Myofascial Release Therapy

Myofascial Release - Massage Therapy AustinMyofascial Release Therapy, developed by John F. Barnes, PT is a gentle therapy, based on both massage work and gentle stretching designed to warm and loosen the muscles.  Through trauma, poor posture or repetitive motion, restrictions can form in the fascia, causing pressure on nerves, blood vessels, muscles, joints and organs.

By applying a static, prolonged pressure to the restricted tissue, the therapist will release tension from the fibrous bands of the muscles, bones, nerves, joints. This will unblock any scar tissue or tension due to injury in the muscles and surrounding tissues.  A typical Myofascial Release Therapy treatment lasts an hour, and afterward clients often rave about the total release of body tension they experience.

Sometimes Myofascial Release Therapy can be quite intense, especially in the case of muscles which are holding a great deal of tension and stress.  After the session, some clients experience slight stiffness and soreness, which will usually vanish over the next few days, leaving behind a sense of well-being. Treatment is often recommended to soothe many common pain-associated conditions including:

  • Neck Pain
  • Back Pain
  • TMJ (Jaw Pain)
  • Scoliosis
  • Sports Injuries
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Restriction of Motion
  • Neurological Dysfunctions
  • Migraine headaches 
  • Arthritis
  • Whiplash                                                 
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Menopause-related pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia

Myofascial Release Therapy Defined

Myofascial release (MFR) therapy focuses on releasing muscular shortness and tightness. There are a number of conditions and symptoms that myofascial release therapy addresses.

Many patients seek myofascial release therapy treatment after losing flexibility or function following an injury or if experiencing ongoing back, shoulder, neck, hip or virtually pain in any area containing soft tissue.

Other conditions treated by myofascial release therapy include Temporo-Mandibular Joint (TMJ) disorder, carpal tunnel syndrome, or possibly fibromyalgia or migraine headaches. Patient symptoms usually include:

  • Tightness of the tissues that restricts motion or pulls the body out of alignment, causing individuals to favor and overuse one hip or shoulder, for example
  • A sense of excessive pressure on muscles or joints that produces pain
  • Pain in any part or parts of the body, including headache or back pain.

Myofascial Release Therapy Benefits

Myofascial Release Therapy can be highly beneficial for patients with and muscle-associated health issues, fibromyalgia, and back pain.  For this reason, some doctors prescribe Myofascial Release Therapy in conjunction with other forms of therapy to give patients a greater range of options.  Myofascial Release Therapy is frequently incorporated into pain management plans, and patients often feel positive effects after only a few sessions.

Myofascial Release Therapy: Causes of Myofascial Pain

Myofascial pain can have two sources. Pain can be generated from the skeletal muscle or connective tissues that are ‘bound down’ by tight fascia. In addition, pain can also be generated from damaged myofascial tissue itself, sometimes at a ‘trigger point’ where a contraction of muscle fibers has occurred. In either case, the restriction or contraction inhibits blood flow to the affected structures, thus accentuating the contraction process further unless the area is treated.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic syndrome characterized by generalized pain, joint rigidity, intense fatigue, sleep alterations, headache, spastic colon, craniomandibular dysfunction, anxiety, and depression. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether massage-myofascial release therapy can improve pain, anxiety, quality of sleep, depression, and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia. A randomized controlled clinical trial was performed. Seventy-four fibromyalgia patients were randomly assigned to experimental (massage-myofascial release therapy) and placebo (sham treatment with disconnected magnotherapy device) groups. The intervention period was 20 weeks. Pain, anxiety, quality of sleep, depression, and quality of life were determined at baseline, after the last treatment session, and at 1 month and 6 months. Immediately after treatment and at 1 month, anxiety levels, quality of sleep, pain, and quality of life were improved in the experimental group over the placebo group. However, at 6 months postintervention, there were only significant differences in the quality of sleep index. Myofascial release techniques improved pain and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia.