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Myofascial Release (MFR)

What is fascia?

The fascia is one continuous structure that exists from head to toe without interruption; an uninterrupted network of the body’s connective tissue. It’s very densely woven, covering and interpenetrating every muscle, bone, nerve, artery and vein, as well as all the internal organs, including the heart, lungs, brain and spinal cord. This means all parts of the body are connected to each other through the fascia. The main components of fascia are elastin, collagen and ground substance, which together form a 3D matrix with elastic and tensile strength that in a healthy condition glides and moves without restriction. 

It is now recognised that the fascial network is one of our richest sensory organs, it communicates and organises the responses of the tissues.

Fascia plays a central role in our structure and function. In order to understand it’s role fully we need to consider a “biotensegrity” model, which sees the whole system working together to initiate movement, absorb pressure and make postural choices. 

What causes restrictions within the fascia?

In the normal healthy state, the fascia is relaxed and held in a fluid substance. It has the ability to stretch and move without restriction. Physical and emotional trauma, repetitive movements, inflammatory responses, poor posture and surgical procedures can be stored in the facial system and all scar and harden fascia, not only in the affected area but also along the tension lines imposed on it. This causes the fascial network to lose its cushioning mechanism and internal structures are pulled out of alignment, causing pain, restriction and lack of function and mobility.

Unfortunately because fascia isn’t visible in x-rays MRI’s or other scans,  it can remain undetected and many people are unaware of the relevance of their fascia in this situation.

The good news is that fascia responds extremely well to hands-on release therapy, this is where the MFR therapist comes in, as we are taught to feel and stretch slowly into the fascial network, applying gentle pressure to feel through and facilitate the release of restrictions. By focusing on the fascia within the body, we allow the patient to heal at the deepest level.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why has fascia been ignored for so long?

Historically anatomy research was carried out on dead bodies and in this state the full function and significance of fascia was not apparent, so it was mostly ignored.  

Since endoscopic procedures started being used, finally living fascia has been observed and is being studied and it’s functions are being revealed.

What is Myofascial Release (MFR)?

MFR is a safe and very effective hands-on technique without use of oil, that involves applying gentle sustained pressure (for a minimum of 120 seconds often 5mins or longer) into the Myofascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore mobility. 

What to expect from a myofascial release (MFR) treatment

To begin with, we will have a full consultation to develop an understanding of what needs attention in your body right now. I will ask about significant life events, injuries, surgeries, medical history and what is going on for you at this point in time.  Where appropriate, I will also do a postural observation to establish your range of movement and alignment. Together we will define a treatment strategy and from there we will see what the body has to tell us during treatment.

Fascia responds slowly, so the treatment is always at a pace that goes with the gradual release of the tissues. The techniques are performed without the use of oil and are directly onto the skin.

The most important quality of MFR is that you feel safe and at ease with the process of release; it is done with you not to you and the dialogue between the therapist’s hands and your body must feel safe, positive and relevant to you the whole time.

As the connectedness of the tissues implies, MFR is a therapy that works with the whole person; body, mind, and emotional self are recognised as integrated and inseparable so it is quite usual to experience change on many levels.

Often an emotional response accompanies a physical release, as much of what is held in our body can be as a result of unexpressed emotions. Bringing an awareness of this to your treatment can help you to uncover the patterns that are present for you and help you get the most from your MFR sessions

 

How does it feel?

Often the most common observations by patients about MFR is that at first it seems too gentle to be doing anything. The practitioner’s hands mostly take various gentle holds around the body. There is then often a period of apparent stillness that can last for several minutes at a time. People sometimes experience heat, pins and needles amongst other sensations in their body during a session. Often there is a sense of tension being drawn out of the body and at the end a profound sense of relaxation can be achieved. Sometimes the changes are apparent immediately but more often it can be one or two days after the changes make themselves obvious. Sometimes this period can include a temporary worsening of symptoms but this is usually followed by noticeable improvement.

Your Treatment; frequency and duration

If you present with a chronic condition, are in a lot of pain, or in a heightened emotional state I would initially recommend weekly treatments to ensure the best results; appointments can then be reduced to every other week and finally 4 to 6 weekly treatments are recommended as a form of to help maintain and to enhance health and well-being.

Occasionally patients will present with one problem, as this is resolved you may decide to go deeper into treatment, dealing with other issues, that may have lain dormant or that arise as a result of tuning in at a deeper level to self.

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