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What is Myofascial Release and How Can It Help?

If you’re a massage enthusiast like me you’ll know there are many different kinds of massage out there, so many that there are whole books dedicated to different types of massages and techniques. Did you know there’s a massage out there that uses knives (called daoliao) or massages that uses split cactus paddles (needles removed, of course) to perform massage? While these massage techniques can sound scary, most massages performed in massage therapy offices consist of regular Swedish, Deep-Tissue or Relaxation massages. But what if you see a massage technique you don’t recognize on the service menu? Many of our clients love our Specialty Focused and General massages but have you ever heard of our Myofascial Release service?


What Is Myofascial Release?


Myofascial release is a hands-on method using gentle, sustained pressure applied to connective tissue (fascia) to relieve pain, increase circulation and enhance mobility.


How is it Different Than ‘Regular’ Massage?


Myofascial release is a specialty massage technique used for clients who suffer from chronic pain and mobility issues. This service differs from our regular massage services in a few ways:


  1. Myofascial release focuses on the ‘fascia,’ the connective tissue web that holds the body together. In a healthy person, their fascia will be soft and pliable, easily manipulated by massage therapy.

  2. Instead of the typical kneading, rolling, and percussive strokes in typical massage therapy, myofascial release uses sustained pressure strokes to effectively hold the fascia until it ‘releases’ tension and becomes more pliable.

  3. The intensity and pressure applied in myofascial release is greater than in regular massage sessions and can cause discomfort or bruising as with any deep-tissue service. You’ve got to pull deep to get those adhesions loose!


Who Benefits from Myofascial Release?


If you’re looking for Swedish massage or a massage to relax, myofascial release probably is not for you. But if you suffer from chronic pain, have limited mobility or are looking to alleviate stiff muscles, you should give it a try!


Clients who benefit from myofascial release:

  • Office workers who have severe postural problems - get stretched back into place!

  • People who suffer from chronic back problems or have repetitive strain injuries (scoliosis, arthritis, ‘frozen’ shoulders)

  • Clients with hip and lower back pain (‘cracking’ hips, limping after getting out of your chair)


What to Expect in a CCR Myofascial Release Massage


Your wellness is our top concern, and our greatest joy is having clients come in with chronic issues and walk out being able to move again! Seeking treatment is such a hard first step but here’s our general walk through for a Myofascial Release session:


  1. We’ll welcome you to Complete Cranial Relief, we’re so happy to see you! You’ll fill out your massage in-take form where you’ll circle your problem areas and concerns, with myofascial release please be specific with your concerns.

  2. You’ll then be paired with one of our caring massage therapists who will take you back into one of our quiet massage rooms to further discuss your concerns. We might ask you to raise or lower your arms or legs to assess current range of motion, you’ll be amazed how much further you’ll be able to move after!

  3. After discussing your specific needs we’ll ask you to lay on the specially heated massage table, typically face up to begin.

  4. We’ll then spend between 60- and 90-minutes targeting your specific concerns. Please note that for a Full-Body Myofascial Release you will need to book the 90-minute session, myofascial release is a gradual process and the entire body cannot be released in 60-minutes! For specific areas like a single shoulder, ‘tech neck’ or for ‘lock-jaw’ 60-minutes should be sufficient.

  5. After your session your therapist will assess progress such as - how much further you’re able to move, how much further you can turn your head, can you roll your shoulders or raise your legs without pain!

  6. Once progress has been established your massage therapist can discuss further sessions with you dependent on progress goals and achieved release. We typically recommend between 2-4 myofascial release sessions dependent on the rate of release over the course of 4-8 weeks.


Aftercare for Myofascial Release Massage


Myofascial release is a deep tissue modality so certain aftercare treatments are highly recommended!


  • As with any massage, drink plenty of water and stay hydrated! To help aid in recovery try drinking refreshing lemon water to fend off after-session headaches.


  • Do not engage in high impact sports or engage in heavy lifting until 48 hours after your session, your muscles are looser than they have been and you need time to recalibrate.


  • You will probably be sore after your session, use topicals or heat and ice treatments to soothe some of that post-session soreness. If the soreness is especially intense (like after a really good workout) try soaking with an Epsom salt bath!


Continuing Your Healing at Home


Keep in mind, if you only come to see us for your appointments but treat your body badly the rest of the week you won’t have lasting results. Once we get your body feeling better we want you to stay feeling better! Real healing starts in the therapy room but has to continue at home to maintain and exceed healing expectations. So, how can you better continue to heal yourself at home and between appointments?


Stretch, stretch, stretch!

The hallmark of a great myofascial release session is that you actually release right? Identify the habits at home and work which contribute to fascia stiffness and overall pain. Are you an office worker who sits hunched over your desk all day? Take the time to stand and stretch at least 15-minutes a day, do a body scan to determine areas of pain and discomfort in the moment and address that pain.


Sleeping Wrong?

A lot of myofascial release clients identify they struggle the most in the morning and their pain gradually decreases throughout the day to only reappear in the morning. Your pain could be coming from how you sleep! Side sleepers and stomach sleepers are highly susceptible to head, neck and shoulder injury while sleeping. One tip from my chiropractor was to sleep with one pillow to maintain neck alignment because I do sleep on my side, what a difference!


Do Self Myofascial Release Between Appointments

I know not everyone is a highly trained massage therapist able to get exactly where it hurts but hear me out, you can do basic myofascial release at home! There are multiple self myofascial release tools on the market or in the gym that can really help with pain between treatments, see our article on Foam Rollers for some potential tips!



The Bottom Line


If you have chronic pain and stiffness give Myofascial Release a try, you might benefit more than you think!

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