by Chelsey Gilbert, LMT
As a Licensed Massage Therapist that has been practicing since 2017, Myofascial Release is a technique that has completely changed my approach to bodywork. Not only are there numerous scientific studies to back the work, I have seen profound change in so many of my clients over the years. I hope the following information will help to shed some light on the therapy and inspire you to try it for yourself.
The Nature of Fascia
As the science and medical fields continue to explore the nuances of the human body, there is one system that has more recently been acknowledged. The fascial system. Think of the fascia of the body as a pliable but structured container for all of our other body systems, down to the cellular level. Fascia runs through and around every muscle fiber, bone, and cell that we have. Much like a spider's web, it has an enormous amount of tensile strength (2000 lbs per square inch) for how intricate and delicate it appears. Not only does the fascia act as a container for our bodies, it acts as a shock absorber, protecting our structural integrity during and after any physical trauma.
As necessary as the fascia is, it can also be the root to many of our chronic issues. Restrictions in the fascia can be caused by physical trauma, surgeries, and even intense emotions. Our fascia will act as a record keeper of our lives, good and bad. It has memory and can form and reform areas of restriction even if we physically try to work the problem out. Fascial restrictions can cause chronic pain, chronic misalignment and many other mysterious symptoms that we can't seem to find the cause of.
One of the main reasons behind the fascias’ amazing memory is its direct link to our subconscious mind. There have been numerous studies done on the role of the fascia and how it interacts with our other body systems. One observation is the connection between the fascia, the nervous system and subconscious mind. If our emotional and traumatic memories are stored in the subconscious, then engaging the fascia is a way to tap into those memories and allow them to process. Once processed, we can retrain the tissue to its optimal structure.
How to tap into the Fascial System
If you have never participated in Myofascial Release before, it is tricky to describe the experience. When there is fascial engagement, there can be a very distinct feeling. Varying sensations of pressure, twitching and emotional release have all been observed. Some people report feeling tension or release in completely different parts of the body than the one being worked on. Falling asleep as you are being worked on by your practitioner is a common occurrence as well. The sensation is similar to a stretch, but not quite. The stretching and compression is held for far longer than what would be considered a normal stretch time. The longer the fascia is being engaged, the more noticeable change to the tissue.
Once you have had myofascial work done, your practitioner can help guide you on how to unwind yourself between sessions. Our bodies have the capability for intuitive self correction and healing. The intention and environment are important pieces in giving ourselves a safe space to process what it needs to. Body awareness is one of the most helpful byproducts of getting fascial work, or any bodywork for that matter. Above all, fascial work is a whole mind, body, and spirit experience that, if given time, can allow for noticeable and permanent change.
More in depth articles and information about Myofascial Release and the fascial system.