What is Myofascial Release (MFR)?
I work with slow, sustained pressure, holds and stretches directly on your skin, without oil, to release restrictions in your connective tissue system (fascia) and help to realign it. This subtle, yet deep treatment therefore affects your whole body in many amazing ways.
What is fascia?
Your fascia is like a multi-layered, mobile onesie, which runs throughout your whole body. It is attached to your bones, muscles, skin and internal organs and connects all these structures together, forming a complex and dynamic unit – your wonderful body.
What can you expect from an MFR treatment?
I treat the area where you are feeling pain or discomfort and other areas of your body, which might not seem obvious to treat. For example, pain in your shoulder may have started because you are using your body in a specific way, to compensate for an old hip issue.
We work together to identify and treat the route cause of your pain, tension or discomfort, not just your symptoms. I therefore value your ongoing feedback throughout MFR treatments. While I am working on one area of your body, you may feel sensations in a seemingly unrelated area. This gives important clues as to what is really going on for you.
How can Myofascial Release Help You?
MFR may help you to correct your posture, keep your internal organs working healthily and can aid phenomenal releases of stored physical and emotional tension.
Body, mind and self-awareness
Your fascia contains many nerve endings which send and receive important information to and from your brain. MFR can therefore help you to become more aware and in control of your body. It also helps you to discover links between your emotions and areas of physical tension. With regular treatment, you may feel an increase in your emotional resilience.
Muscles, movement and posture
You may experience sensations of lightness and freedom of movement. You may also feel more long-term relief from muscular aches and tension than can be achieved through traditional massage alone.
You may develop better posture and greater awareness of how and when to correct it. This is because the nerves which send messages between your body and brain are working better.
Digestion and staying well
Your digestion, metabolism and immune system may function better, as nutrients, hormones and antibodies are circulated more efficiently around your body. You may also find that your body heals better and faster after injury or surgery.
Mouth, nose and jaw
I have specific training in techniques which address tension in the mouth and nose. These techniques can be helpful if you have a tight, aching or clicking jaw, if you grind your teeth at night or if you find it difficult to breathe through your nose. If you have issues with your jaw and your dentist has addressed all possible dental causes, then I would be happy to work with you. I would also be willing to discuss your treatment with your dentist, with your consent.
I can treat the breast area in both men and women. Treating this area may relieve tension in your chest, may help you to bring your shoulders back and may aid lymph flow, especially if you have been feeling under the weather.
For women, breast treatment may relieve tenderness and aid milk flow. This treatment is also incredibly supportive and may aid healing following breast surgery, including lumpectomy, mastectomy and reconstruction.
If you are not comfortable for me to work directly on your skin, I can treat you through a thin vest top or with my hand over your hand. For more information on how I work with scars, please see my page on scar tissue release.
What does MFR feel like?
It is not easy to describe MFR; you have to experience it to really understand it. This is because everyone is different, with their own story of stored physical and emotional tension. How we release this tension when encouraged to do so varies from person to person and from day to day.
Your response to MFR will therefore be unique to you and you may experience a different response in each session.
You may feel heat, cold, heaviness or lightness. It may feel as if fluid is moving or rippling within your body, or that you are being moved within your own skin. You may experience tingling, aching, stinging or burning – a bit like a Chinese burn.
Your body may begin to move spontaneously, as the fascial restrictions unravel and the body realigns (unwinding). This is different from conscious movement. You may think that I am moving you and be surprised by the movement you can achieve when you are not thinking about it.
You may experience an Emotional release, as tension in your body is released. This is because patterns of pain, tension and posture can develop in response to something which happened to you. A physical release of tension can therefore help you to let go of feelings which have been stored up for quite a while.
Integration with Massage and Aromatherapy
If you want to receive the incredible benefits of MFR and also feel like having a massage, you can have a bit of both. I always start with MFR, as your skin needs to be free from oil. I can then finish with a therapeutic or remedial massage to suit you.
More about Fascia and MFR
This is a highly complex subject and I cannot do justice to it in a few paragraphs. If I have whetted your appetite and you want to understand fascia and MFR in more technical detail, please read on.
What is Fascia?
Fascia is the complex network of connective tissue which runs throughout your whole body. The superficial (surface) layer can be felt just beneath your skin and binds your skin to your underlying tissue. Deeper layers of fascia form your muscle sheaths, ligaments, tendons and the protective coverings surrounding all your bones and internal organs.
Fascia is made from the proteins collagen (for strength) and elastin (for elasticity), surrounded by a watery substance containing proteins and sugars. This structure makes it extremely strong, yet mobile and fluid. It thus supports and protects all of your other tissues and organs and enables movement between them.
Your fascia functions as an integral unit, rather like a onesie covering the whole body beneath your skin. It has been described as the largest system of the body, because it touches and interconnects all other systems and structures.
Discovering your own Fascia
Here is a little experiment for you to try. Place the palm of your hand directly on a large area of your skin, for instance, on your arm, leg, chest or abdomen. Try moving your skin over the underlying tissues in different directions: up, down and to either side. Do you notice that it moves more easily in some directions than others? Do some directions of movement feel more comfortable than others?
With your hand in the same position, now wait a couple of minutes, until it feels like your hand is starting to stick to your skin. Do you notice anything? Do you feel any change in temperature or movement beneath your skin?
What Can Go Wrong with Fascia?
Tension, postural habits and injury can cause the fascia to become dehydrated and to stick to itself, rather like Cling-film. The collagen and elastin fibres in the fascia come too close together as the body tenses up, which pushes the water out of the fascia.
Adhesion (sticking) in one part of the fascia can affect other parts of the network, leading to pain and restricted movement. In order to understand this concept, try pulling your shirt or jumper down at the front and feel how it is pulled up against your skin at the back. So it is with fascia: a snag in one area causes snags in other areas. If our fascia is stuck, then all the bones, muscles and organs attached to it cannot move and work as they should.
How does MFR work?
Modern approaches to massage and bodywork recognise that patterns of pain and tension, previously attributed to muscles and joints, often actually originate in the fascia.
MFR seeks to unstick the adhesions and unravel the restrictions in your fascia. This increases fascial fluidity and mobility, restoring movement and proper functioning to all of your body systems.
Research scientists think that the sustained pressure from the therapist’s hands generates heat and a small electrical charge in the fascia. This heat is believed to initiate vibration and movement of cells within the fascia. The collagen and elastin fibres separate again, letting water back into the fascia and restoring its original suppleness.
If you still want to know more about MFR treatment for specific conditions, check out the research articles available from the Myofascial Release UK website.
My thanks go to Ruth Duncan of MFR UK, for her outstanding knowledge, skills and training in this fascinating area of bodywork. The information provided here is based on training materials supplied by MFR UK.
Testimonial on the benefits of Myofascial Release:
Karen, life coach: “Your myofascial release therapy seems to have made a real difference to my neck and has complemented the physiotherapy which I had previously. My neck is feeling much looser and generally better.”