Myofascial Release Basics
Myofascial release (or MFR) is a soft tissue therapy for the treatment of skeletal muscle immobility and pain. Self-myofascial release (or SMFR) refers to someone performing this therapy on them self. This alternative medicine therapy aims to relax contracted muscles, improve blood and lymphatic circulation, and stimulate the stretch reflex in muscles.
Fascia is a thin, tough, elastic type of connective tissue that wraps most structures within the human body, including muscle. Fascia supports and protects these structures. Osteopathic theory proposes that this soft tissue can become restricted due to psychogenic disease, overuse, trauma, infectious agents, or inactivity, often resulting in pain, muscle tension, and corresponding diminished blood flow. Although fascia and its corresponding muscle are the main targets of myofascial release, other tissue may be addressed as well, including other connective tissue.
- Ischemic compression is a therapy technique used in physical therapy, where blockage of blood in an area of the body is deliberately made, so that a resurgence of local blood flow will occur upon release.
- Ischemic compression is commonly applied to trigger points, in what is known as trigger point therapy, where enough sustained pressure is applied to a trigger point with a tolerable amount of pain, and as discomfort is reduced, additional pressure is gradually given.
- Myofascial trigger points, also known as trigger points, trigger sites, or muscle knots, are hyper-irritable spots in the fascia surrounding skeletal muscle. They are associated with palpable nodules in taut bands of muscle fibers.
- The trigger point model states that unexplained pain frequently radiates from these points of local tenderness to broader areas, sometimes distant from the trigger point itself. Practitioners claim to have identified reliable referred pain patterns which associate pain in one location with trigger points elsewhere.
- Compression of a trigger point may elicit local tenderness, referred pain, or local twitch response. The local twitch response is not the same as a muscle spasm. This is because a muscle spasm refers to the entire muscle contracting whereas the local twitch response also refers to the entire muscle but only involves a small twitch, no contraction.
- Among physicians, many specialists are well versed in trigger point diagnosis and therapy. These include physiatrists (physicians specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation), family medicine, and orthopedics. Osteopathicas well as chiropractic schools also include trigger points in their training. Other health professionals, such as athletic trainers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, acupuncturists, massage therapists and structural integrators are also aware of these ideas and many of them make use of trigger points in their clinical work as well.