Fascia is a thin, flexible, yet tough connective tissue covering found over all muscles and organs. It is made up mostly of collagen fibres. When looked at microscopically, the fibres give a spider web like appearance. Fascia found covering muscles is known as myofascia, and encloses the muscle in a sheath. The thin white film you find on a chicken breast is an example of myofascia.
The primary purpose of myofascia is to decrease friction between muscles, allowing muscles to easily glide over one another when they contract. Up until this century, the fascia was thought to be an inert tissue, that only moved when outside forces acted upon it. Exciting new research in 2005 discovered contractile cells within fascia. What this means is that fascia isn’t simply a passive structure. Instead, it can contract and act upon neighbouring fascia and attached structures. Myofascial tissue can have enough contractile cells to affect the muscle it encloses.
Trauma can cause the myofascia to lose its flexibility. It’s becomes contracted, tight ,and a source of pain. This trauma can be a single injury, or the culmination of many smaller micro-traumas, such as poor posture. All fascia in the body is actually one continuous sheet. The tightness of the fascia in one area of the body can therefore pull on areas elsewhere in the body.
Myofascial release therapy is a very effective massage technique for treating tightness of the muscle connective tissue sheathing. By applying pressure to the myofascia, your massage therapist can bring flexibility back to the area and remove your pain. Pressure tends to be gentle. It is important to give your RMT feedback about your comfort during the process. The pressure is maintained for a length of time to allow the fascia to return to its normal resting length. Because myofascial tension in one place can affect other regions of the body, your therapist may treat other areas to get the best possible treatment outcome.
Conditions that myofascial release therapy is effective at treating include: