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Understanding Myofascial Release Therapy

Published April 1st, 2022 by Integrated Physical Therapy

The use of Myofascial Release is based on decades old methods that have recently been ‘discovered’ in the scientific research into fascia research.  This has fundamentally changed our view of human anatomy, and therefore our approach and treatment of orthopedic, chronic pain and trauma-based conditions.

When you’re sitting in the doctor’s office or therapist’s office, you may see the pictures of the skeletal system next to the nervous system next to the muscular system.  With this imagery placed in front of us, it is easy to think these systems are independent of one another and traverse the body quite separately. Nothing can be further from the truth.  They do different things, however, are quite dependent and influence by each other. The fascia system is the webbing which connects the skeletal system to the muscular system and all other systems. (Some research suggests, it becomes the other systems as all is made from fascia).

This is why we also refer to fascia as connective tissue. It connects everything together, holding together the human body. The fascia is the 3-D spider web of fibrous, gluey proteins that binds those cells all together in their proper tension and placement.

Chronic pain and chronic stress change how your brain and nervous system work, which is known as central sensitization, wherein your nervous system is in a constant state of overdrive or fight or flight. This is an ongoing cycle where pain causes stress and stress causes pain, and so it continues for a long time.

When in pain the body responds by contracting or tensioning the muscles and fascia causing restrictions in the fascia and in the long term a loss of function due to decreased range of motion, fascial restriction, and inability to use muscles to their fullest potential.

At IPT we know fascia is the key to unlock chronic pain and orthopedic conditions. The fact is that fascia has been relatively ignored and doesn’t show up on MRIs, CT scans or x-rays. This means, imaging may not show the whole picture. At IPT, we see fascia as the roadmap to creating success for our patients in pain. We assess the fascial restrictions and imbalances within your system and use this root cause analysis approach to get our clients the results they are looking for. Many people experience major reduction in symptoms at their evaluation. We treat the whole system and how each of these systems integrate with each other.

Fascia Facts:

  • Fascia has six to ten times more sensory nerves then muscle. Many believe more than this.
  • Genetics determine only what proteins (fascia) can be manufactured. The environment and how you use your body every minute of every day determines how they are structured from day to day.
  • Fascia fibers organize themselves depending on the forces that go through them. This organization is dictated by your posture, habits, and physical activities. This is the tensioning we refer to.
  • The fascial web will respond and distribute forces throughout the entire system/body. This means the restriction in your calf can literally cause your neck pain, or in other words, your low back pain might be coming from a restriction across at the opposite hip.
  • Trauma, injury, inflammatory responses, postural patterns and/or surgical procedures can create fascia restrictions that can produce tensile pressures of approximately 2,000 pounds per square inch on pain sensitive structures.

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