What is Myofascial Release Massage?

Published on September 10, 2020 by arothstein

If you’re interested in a career as a massage therapist, one of the common massage techniques you will learn during a massage therapy program is myofascial release massage. During a massage therapy program, you will gain the knowledge about anatomy and kinesiology that you need to successfully perform myofascial release massage. With this technique, you can help clients reduce pain and live a happier life.

Massage therapist providing a myofascial release massage to a client

What Is Fascia?

Fascia is an expanse or band of connective tissue that’s predominantly composed of collagen. The fascia is underneath the surface of the skin and encloses an internal organ or muscle. The fascia is a tightly woven, dense covering. This specialized system of the body covers:

The fascia is continuous, from head to foot. Surgery, inflammation, and trauma can exert pressure on muscles that may not be evident on CAT scans, myelograms, or X-rays. A lack of motion, inflammation, or pain may be due to undiagnosed pressure on the muscles.

Fascia plays a significant role in the function of the body. When it’s in the normal state, the fascia has a wavy appearance. When emotional or physical trauma, inflammation, or scarring are present, the fascia becomes tense and restricted. Among the causes of tightness in the fascia are:

What Is Myofascial Release Massage?

Myofascial release massage is a technique that focuses on pain that originates in the myofascial tissue or membranes that connects and wraps around the muscles throughout the body. Myofascial pain differs from other types of pain treated by massage therapists because the pain originates in trigger points.

The primary difference between traditional massage techniques like Swedish massage and myofascial is that traditional massage focuses on the muscles and soft tissue. Myofascial release massage is concentrated on the fascia or connective tissue. The myofascial release technique uses a sustained pressure to lengthen and stretch the connective tissue. Pressure may be applied for several minutes to soften the fascia and properly align it.

Another significant difference between the two types of massage is that traditional massage uses lotions or oils to prevent friction on the client’s body. If any oil or lotion is used in myofascial release massage, it can prevent the practitioner from finding the trigger point that’s causing the pain or discomfort.

What Are the Benefits of Myofascial Release Massage?

There are many different benefits of myofascial release massage. They include reduced pain, release of trigger points, improvement in movement and flexibility, improved muscle function, enhanced circulation, reduced soreness, help correcting posture alignment issues, strengthening the immune system, improved tissue recovery, reduced scar tissue and stress reduction.

Benefit #1: Reduced Pain

Rather than using light pressure to relieve sore muscles, the massage therapist must locate the trigger points that cause the pain. They use manual and stretching techniques that loosen up restricted movement in joints and muscles and relieves the pain.

Benefit #2: Release Trigger Points

Using this technique over a broad area of the body can identify the trigger points that cause pain, by releasing and lengthening the muscles. The technique uses sustained pressure and may be done several times until the tension is released.

Benefit #3: Improved Movement and Flexibility

Myofascial release massage has been effective in reducing shoulder pain and relieving pain in women recovering from breast cancer surgery. Clients with neck and arm pain can improve faster with myofascial release massage than by using electrical nerve stimulation, strengthening exercises, or moist, warm packs.

Benefit #4: Improved Muscle Function

Trainers and sports team professionals are discovering the benefits of myofascial release therapy when treating athletes with sore and injured muscles. Applying pressure to sore muscles for extended periods has been shown to improve muscle function and provide a faster recovery.

Benefit #5: Enhanced Circulation

Myofascial release massage is an excellent way to improve blood circulation throughout the body. The pressure on the trigger points encourages the flow of oxygen and helps to improve blood circulation.

Benefit #6: Reduced Soreness

Blood flow is restricted in areas that are tight. The increased pressure on trigger points allows the blood to flow freely and reduce inflammation, so pain and soreness are reduced.

Benefit #7: Correction of Posture Alignment Issues

When muscles are tight and there’s poor circulation, muscles can get dehydrated. If there’s an injury, scar tissue may form, and fascia attaches to it. Painful adhesions make movement painful. As adhesions become solid, they can restrict movement and cause poor posture. Myofascial release massage helps address poor posture.

Benefit #8: Strengthens Immune System

Massage helps to improve physical and emotional health. Myofascial release massage rids the body of stressors. When the body and mind are strengthened, the immune system works more efficiently.

Benefit #9: Improved Tissue Recovery

Myofascial release massage helps to ease tissue that’s constricted. When scar tissue is present, the massage therapist works along the scar tissue to soften it. When the tissue becomes soft and more pliable, it heals faster.

Benefit #10: Reduced Scar Tissue

Scar tissue that isn’t treated can eventually harden, causing more pain and mobility issues. Myofascial release massage is one of the most effective ways to reduce scar tissue. As the massage therapist continues to massage the area, the scar tissue will soften, and adhesions can be eliminated.

Benefit #11: Stress Reduction

When the fascia is constricted due to stress, injury, or aging, it can cause stress and tension. Myofascial release massage is one of the most effective techniques to stretch tissue and relieve tightness. When the fascia is in a healthy state, there’s less stress throughout the body. The treatment is effective in alleviating the feelings that are associated with chronic stress.

What Ailments are Myofascial Release Massage Used For?

Myofascial release massage helps those suffering from disorders that cause pain. These disorders include fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, muscle spasms, whiplash injuries, bulging discs, sciatica, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia pain comes from fascia that is stuck and inflamed. When the fascia gets restricted, it becomes almost glue-like and dehydrated. The gentle pressure that’s applied during the myofascial release massage can relieve the pain caused by fibromyalgia.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis causes pain and swelling in the body’s joints and soft tissue. The pressure exerted in myofascial massage can alleviate the pain and inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

Muscle Spasms

One theory about muscle spasms is that they may be caused by repeated trauma to a muscle that creates a trigger point. Myofascial release massage is geared towards trigger points and alleviating pain in other parts of the body.

Whiplash Injuries

Whiplash can cause a variety of symptoms, including headaches, arm or neck pain, dizziness, and memory loss. People who suffer from pain associated with whiplash injuries can experience improvement after a few sessions of myofascial release massage treatment.

Bulging Disc

Myofascial release massage treatments to decompress a bulging disc combined with techniques to improve mobility can reduce the chronic pain associated with disc injuries and prevent the disc from degenerating further.

Sciatica

Acupressure and pain medications are often prescribed for sciatica pain, but myofascial release massage is the most effective treatment in alleviating the pain. Massage treatments help to decrease the tension in the muscles. When the muscle loosens up, the inflammation in the muscle decreases.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Myofascial release massage is one of the most effective treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome. The massage therapist uses a kneading motion to massage the wrist joint. The repeated movement can break down adhesions in the tendons and help to reduce the level of pain.

What are the Myofascial Release Massage Skills?

There are many skills a massage therapist will need to be successful at myofascial release massage. They include stamina, dexterity, communication, active listening, and body language interpretation.

Skill #1: Stamina

A massage therapist may spend most of their workday on their feet, and it can be exhausting at the end of the day. Physical stamina is a necessity for a massage therapist who must be able to provide treatment for several clients each day, with sessions possibly lasting as long as an hour.

Skill #2: Dexterity

A massage therapist must have manual dexterity to perform all the maneuvers needed for a rigorous myofascial release massage treatment. Repeated application of pressure on trigger points may be necessary to loosen tight muscles and restore mobility.

Skill #3: Communication

A massage therapist needs as much information as possible to provide the most effective treatments for their clients. Excellent interpersonal skills help to make a client feel comfortable. The massage therapist should explain what they’re doing and why, to put the client at ease.

Skill #4: Active Listening

A massage therapist should always practice active listening. When a client is explaining their pain or symptoms, they should be allowed to finish before the massage therapist asks questions.

Skill #5: Body Language Interpretation

Observing a client’s body language can help to interpret what they’re feeling. Responding in an appropriate manner can help to build a rapport between massage therapist and client.

Final Thoughts

Do you enjoy helping others? Have the stamina and dexterity to perform myofascial release massage? If so, a career as a massage therapist will allow you to help others and keep them living a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Did learning about myofascial release massage interest you? Want to learn more about a massage therapy program? Broadview University developed the Massage Therapy certificate program with your future in mind. The certificate program is designed to emphasize skills and knowledge for entry-level employment as a massage therapist. The Massage Therapy program at Broadview University prepares students to take the MBLEx licensing exam offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board (FSMTB). Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible for professional membership in such associations as the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Association of Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP).

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a massage therapist.

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