massageVerde Valley Myofascial Release therapists, Robert Hendryx LMT, Danielle Markley, LMT and Michael Rende, OTR, participated in the Prime Time Fair in Cottonwood, Az. The Prime Time Fair was geared towards sharing community resources with the senior population. The most asked question for our therapists was, “What is Myofascial Release”. This is still shocking to me. As a Physical Therapist, I have been using Myofascial Release as an effective pain relief tool for 28 years. It has been by far the most effective technique for my patients, no matter what the diagnosis, extent of injury or length of time since the original injury. Myofascial Release is effective for pain relief and restoring proper alignment which contributes to optimal functioning. It’s challenging to see so many people walking around tolerating chronic injury and immobility when the answer is so readily available. Why is Myofascial Release still so unknown? Why is it not the first line of defense for any acute or chronic pain? And lastly, why is it not part of our day to day wellness routine to help our body stay healthy.

Let’s first answer this most frequently asked question, “What is Myofascial Release”? Myofascial Release is a manual therapy that addresses tightened connective tissue throughout the body. Connective tissue runs 3-D from head to toe without interruption and covers every, muscle, nerve, blood vessel, all the way down to the cellular level. Myofascial Release restores proper mobility to contracted muscles, improves blood and lymphatic circulation and stimulates the stretch reflex in muscles. Our day to day activities cause wear and tear and normal compensation patterns which result in a restriction of connective tissue throughout the body. Over time, these compensations result in pain, which we typically learn to accommodate. As time goes on, these pain patterns become more and more solidified in the body resulting in dysfunctional movement patterns. In general, the soft tissues in our body can become restricted due to disease, overuse, trauma, infectious agents or inactivity. This results in pain, increased muscle tension, decreased blood flow and congestion or stagnation anywhere in the body. Myofascial Release restores proper mobility of the tightened tissues, allowing proper blood flow to heal damaged structures. Myofascial Release is the most effective manual therapy for pain relief and maintaining overall wellness due to it’s ability to restore optimal function throughout the body. It returns the fluidity for ease of movement. Without this fluidity, our cells cannot communicate with each other and this is where disease begins.

To answer the other questions- “Why is it still so unknown”? There are several reasons for this. First of all, this technique requires the practitioner to develop skill which comes with time and practice. We live in a fast paced, fix it society. Everyone wants something to be done yesterday. For the practitioner, there is a time factor for study and practice in order to really have the depth of feel into the deeper layers of the body where the deep restrictions lie. The client has to participate in the treatment by feeling into the body and engaging the restrictions. What does engaging the restrictions mean? We are multidimensional beings. Our injuries are a combination of physical as well as emotional components. The compensation patterns that happen are not the same for every person. Each and every one of us has our own unique way of responding and reacting to different stimulus in our environment.  There is no cookbook or recipe for treatment.  We have to be willing to listen and feel how these restrictions are pulling in the body.

In the last 28 years that I have been a practicing therapist, our environment has changed dramatically and the types of pain patterns that I have been treating has also changed. Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain are now very common diagnoses. That was non existent for me 28 years ago. The sedentary, technology based society has changed this scenario. People move from one chair to the next. Even our play is more sedentary with video games and home movies. Our children are attached to ipads and computers by the time they are 2. Our society does not support self care of the body. We just assume it will take care of us. When we hurt, we go to the doctor and get something to stop the pain. Our physicians rarely take the time to look at the cause of our pain. We sit in front of so many different screens now that many of us have lost the art of normal, fluid, spontaneous movement. We are stuck and cemented in our body.

Lastly, “Why is is not part of our day to day routine to help our body stay healthy?” That is the most challenging question. People will go and get massage to relax and pamper themselves. It’s a feel good, temporary fix. We are not in-tuned with doing long-lasting, therapeutic work to help our body maintain its optimal functioning. Our fast paced society is so stress ridden and quick fix massage establishments have popped up everywhere offering cheap massages that give us temporary relief with no long term benefits. Myofascial Release is the missing link to taking care of our body. It restores the normal fluidity that our body requires for optimal functioning. We all owe it to ourselves to learn how to undo the effects of our daily life. Myofascial Release should be a part of our daily habits, whether we are doing it on our own as part of our self care or visiting our skilled practitioner to help us undo the tangles of our daily life. And, of course, the first consideration when we have an accident or injury that is causing us pain and limiting our daily life.

Do you have any questions about how Myofascial Release can help you? Leave us a comment.

Jody Hendryx, PT