Myo-what? What the heck is Myofascial Release (MFR)?
As the name of the business implies, Myofascial Release is a big part of how Erin Arnold PT, MPT, LMT treats conditions like back pain, sciatica, neck pain, headaches, and pelvic floor dysfunction. It certainly is much different than traditional physical therapy treatments that are exercise and theraband based or massage treatments that focus only on relaxation.
There is going to be a lot of Myofascial explanation here…read it. Look at the pictures-especially fascia man down below. If you are still confused, call us. Erin LOVES to explain fascia! To sum it up in a nutshell though, Myofascial Release is the single most effective way of treating pain that Erin has found in her 21+ year therapy career. It is not only her modality of choice as a therapist, it has also been life changing for her as a patient herself.
Myofascial Release is a specialized Manual Therapy treatment philosophy. There are a number of practitioners that claim to use “Myofascial Release” but are in fact using aggressive soft tissue mobilization techniques that can be painful and less effective on a long term basis. When looking for a Myofascial Release Practitioner, it is important to inquire about the prospective therapist’s training, experience, and percentage of time spent in practice with Myofascial Release. Erin Arnold, PT, MPT, LMT is an expert level Myofascial Release Therapist trained by John F Barnes, the leading authority on Myofascial Release. She has been exclusively practicing Myofascial Release since 2004.
Understanding how Central Texas Myofascial Release is different than traditional Physical or Massage Therapy first requires a basic understanding of Fascia and why and how the heck we “release” it!
Fascia is a 3-dimensional connective tissue web that surrounds, supports, and protects every structure in our body! Anatomists are extremely practical in their naming of structures and they love Latin. Before there was an understanding of how pervasive fascia is and where it goes in our bodies, anatomists saw this dense tissue covering muscles on cadavers and called it “myofascia” (myo- is Latin for muscle). While it was the best they could do at the time, it is a little like heading over to the meat counter at your local grocery store and seeing the thick dense white stuff on the outside of a roast or pork tenderloin and thinking that is all there is to fascia, or to the entire animal for that matter!
We now know that in the LIVING BODY, fascia is a dynamic matrix with an elastic component, a collagen component, and contains fluid filled microtubules. The work of French surgeon, Dr Jean-Claude Guimberteau beautifully demonstrates what a fascinating, dynamic, fluid system this fascia stuff really is when it is in its normal state. Unfortunately, trauma to the fascial system through accidents, falls, scar tissue, improper postures, or repetitive movements causes injury to the system. When this happens the fascia dehydrates and gets very sticky and restricted. In fact, when fascia is restricted it can exert up to 2000 pounds of pressure per square inch!
Because Fascia goes everywhere in your body and surrounds, supports, and protects every structure in your system, restrictions can then change the way your body moves in space. Restrictions change the biomechanics of the muscles and joints and/or they can place pressure on pain causing structures like nerves and blood vessels.
The fascinating part of this is that where we may experience pain symptoms may not actually be the location of the original root problem. Traditionally with Physical Therapy, when you have pain in a location you will be treated primarily in that location. With Myofascial Release you are looked at as a whole body system with an awareness of how these whole body restrictions affect your movement patterns and pain. In Myofascial Release we often say “find the pain and look elsewhere for the cause.”
“Fascia Man” here on the left helps us see this. As clinicians we may have a patient that comes in with a complaint of neck pain. We may see the elevation of his left shoulder, the tightness of the muscles around the left neck and think we have got it! Traditional PT would give muscle stretches, some heat or ultrasound, and probably some strengthening with weights or Theraband. Without the awareness and treatment of the underlying pulls and tension of the fascia on the pelvis, ribs, opposite shoulder, and leg however, this patient would have a high recurrence of his neck symptoms. Because the underlying problem was never fully addressed!
This awareness of how the entire body system is working together and focused work to relieve the restrictions causing dysfunction really allows for more profound and long lasting changes, future injury prevention, and pain relief.
Erin’s goal at Central Texas Myofascial Release is to correct tissue imbalances and empower you with your own tools to live your most functional and pain free life. She truly wants you to Feel Amazing today, tomorrow, and into the future!
How do we “release” fascia?
Unlike aggressive forms of soft tissue mobilization or some non-John Barnes Myofascial Release techniques, Myofascial Release should NOT be painful. While there is at times some mild discomfort as tissues are engaged, pressures can and should always be modified to a tolerable level to the patient.
Myofascial Release uses low load, long duration holds of at least 3-5 minutes to dynamically change the structure of the fascia and allow it to re-hydrate to take pressure off of pain causing structures.
As the therapist sinks into the tissue restriction, connects, and waits for the tissue to change without forcing the system, patients are often able to feel the connection of the restrictions to other parts of the body. Erin teaches awareness of this three dimensional tissue web and through this awareness more profound tissue releases are achieved. Patients often describe the feeling of fascial release as the feeling of butter melting or taffy stretching and can often feel the spiderweb nature of fascia far beyond the area of Erin’s physical pressure.
Myofascial Release practitioners are also sensitive to how there is often an emotional component to pain and dysfunction. It is not uncommon for tissue memory and emotion to be caught in a fascial restriction. A skilled Myofascial Therapist like Erin can effectively help guide you through this process and facilitate a deeper healing experience.