What Is Myofascial Release?
Soft Tissue Therapy for the Treatment of Skeletal Muscle Immobility and Pain
Myofascial release is a form of soft tissue therapy used to treat somatic dysfunction and resulting pain and restriction of motion. This is accomplished by relaxing contracted muscles, increasing circulation and lymphatic drainage, and stimulating the stretch reflex of muscles and overlying fascia.
Fascia is the soft tissue component of the connective tissue that provides support and protection for most structures within the human body, including muscle.
This soft tissue can become restricted due to psychogenic disease, overuse, trauma, infectious agents, or inactivity, often resulting in pain, muscle tension, and corresponding diminished blood flow. Although fascia and its corresponding muscle are the main targets of myofascial release, other tissue may be affected as well, including other connective tissue.
As in most tissue, irritation of fascia or muscle causes local inflammation. Chronic inflammation results in fibrosis, or thickening of the connective tissue, and this thickening causes pain and irritation, resulting in reflexive muscle tension that causes more inflammation. In this way, the cycle creates a positive feedback loop and can result in ischemia and somatic dysfunction even in the absence of the original offending agent. Myofascial techniques aim to break this cycle through a variety of methods acting on multiple stages of the cycle.