Myofascial, Youofascial. All You Need to Know About Myofascial Release Therapy But Were Afraid to Ask
Trigger point therapy, gua sha, shiatsu, swedish, deep-tissue. The types and terminology of massage and muscle recovery can be overwhelming and confusing at times. Body Back is here to help break some of the uncertainty and stigma behind some of the intertwined and, at times, interchangeable terms that describe some of the types of therapies and maladies that warrant a massage. Today we’re talking about myofascial release and how it differs from some of its massage cousins. We’ll discuss the benefits and risks while giving a quick primer on myofascial pain and massage.
What is Myofascial Release Therapy
Myofascial release is a type of physical therapy used to treat myofascial pain syndrome. ‘Myo,’ is the root word for muscle while the word ‘fascia’ refers to the flexible bands and fiber bundles that make a thin casing of connective tubing joining your organs to your muscles and bones. Fascia can occasionally tighten and form muscle knots.
At its essence myofascial release therapy gently kneads these tough spots to make them flexible and relieve the pain they cause while improving range of motion.
Myofascial pain syndrome as a disorder is chronic pain caused by sensitivity and tightness in your myofascial tissues or trigger points. Pinpointing the specific trigger point causing the specific pain is often very difficult. In general, myofascial release is often used over a large broad area of muscle and tissue rather than at constant single points.
What are the Benefits?
Pain Relief and Stress Relief
Muscle knots can hurt or cause great discomfort. Myofascial release helps combat this plus more than just the knots. People with fibromyalgia, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, repetitive injuries and other chronic pain conditions can benefit from myofasical release.
As far as stress relief, any massage can simply feel good and help the body, mind and soul feel free, rested and revitalized. Even a self massage for ten minutes can result in feeling less anxiety, lower stress and tension and can be a quick and effective mood stabilizer.
Circulation and Flexibility
Whether you’re an elite athlete or you just want to make it to the couch to the bedroom without pain, the more flexible our muscles are and the looser our joints are, we feel better, we move better, we glide instead of trudge through mud when we move. As far as circulation goes -- headaches, numbness, fatigue, digestive and stomach problems can all be symptomatic of poor circulation. A University of Colorado study showed that myofascial release helps improve blood flow around the body improving both flexibility and circulation.
Ok. But What are the Risks?
While myofascial release by massage therapy is low risk for a large percentage of the population, it’s important to note at this juncture that any person with certain medical issues or risks should consult with their doctor before jumping in the myofascial release pool. Certain at-risk groups include the wounded or burned, fragile or weak bones, deep vein issues and/or people taking blood thinners. In very rare cases, massage therapy has caused nerve damage, allergic reactions or temporary paralysis. While rare, it is still important to note that no matter how relaxing, no massage technique is 99% risk-free.
How does Myofascial Differ from Trigger Point Therapy?
While both myofascial release therapy and trigger point therapy address stubborn muscle knots, they’re not exactly the same. Trigger point therapy applies direct pressure to specific muscle knots. It’s targeted to the specific trouble trigger point or area when found. Myofasical release involves a larger area and slower stretching and longer movements across the broad area and the pressure is typically lighter than a trigger point therapy session. Some massages can involve both types and it’s not uncommon to start with broad areas and hone in on the target areas. But at their essence, myofascial release and trigger point therapy are very different.
What Are Some Tools that are good for Myofascial Release Therapy
We are glad you asked. You’ve come to the right place :). Here at Body Back Company it is our pleasure to point you in the right direction when it comes to myofascial release tools. The following massagers can not only help with trigger point release but can be used every day for myofascial pain prevention and simple relaxation.
The Body Back Buddy Elite is an S-shaped trigger-point massager with 11 knobs to treat various muscle knots all over the body. As mentioned before, trigger points are tense knots that form in the muscle during times of heightened stress or with overuse of a muscle group. To relax those areas, you can apply direct pressure from the knob to a tender spot for 30-45 seconds and can feel the muscle loosen up over time. These come equipped with textured handles for grip and numbers on each knob to make “match-by-number” massage that much easier.
Massage Roller Balls are a holistic approach to massage therapy that can fit right in the palm of your hand. These massage tools are great for solo use or can be used for partner massages as well. Perfect for deep-tissue massage, the user has complete control over the pressure used on sore, tense muscles. To further relax, you can use essential body oils in conjecture with the massage roller ball for aromatherapy and help the tool glide over the skin with ease.
Wooden Back Roller is a well-crafted wooden massage tool (also referred to as a ‘ma roller’) that allows a gentle stretch to the spine for improved posture and back pain reduction. Because we use muscles known as “anti-gravity” muscles every day to hold us upright, many suffer from chronic back pain. This massage tool helps to loosen the muscle tension around the spine and reduce the pain felt in the upper and lower back.
Finally, the Vibe 2.0 packs a powerful, orbital punch. This pro-grade device can be used alone but in cases of sciatica or back pain, you may need a partner that can move the tool along your lower back, buttocks, and hamstrings to target the muscle tension causing your discomfort. The Vibe 2.0’s oscillating movements can boost blood circulation, overcoming the pain of trigger points throughout the body. You can control the speed of the vibrations and can customize your experience for the muscle groups you’re targeting for a deep-tissue massage.