What is fascia?
You might have heard people in the gym talking about myofascial release or seen people foam rollering. So, what is fascia? According to mysofascialrelease.com, fascia is a specialised system of connective tissue in the body that has an appearance like a spider’s web or a sweater. It is very densely woven, interpenetrating every muscle, bone, nerve, blood vessels and internal organs including the heart, lungs, brain and spinal cord. This tissue can be affected by injury, surgery, poor posture or inflammation creating myofascial restrictions that produce pressure and pain on sensitive structures. (physio.co.uk).
What is Myofascial Release?
Myofascial release massage is a soft tissue treatment that helps to detect restrictions and can facilitate the release of fascia to lessen muscle pain and increase mobility.
The initial assessment is similar to a typical massage or physio appointment with increased focus on posture and muscle imbalances including skin elasticity, roughness, dryness, thermal changes and asymmetry. The aim is to identify points of restrictions which can then be treated causing an overall positive releasing effect on body and mind.
The technique itself typically involves applying gentle pressure in different directions on the body following anatomical structures such as arms or lower limb and the pattern of restrictions identified.
Although the technique itself is gentle, the treatment might be painful due to elastin-collagen fibres separating and the tissue yielding, which is described as from a gel-like to a more fluid state.
What conditions benefit most from myofascial release, according to scientific evidence?
A Canadian systematic review (Piper et al. 2016) that looked at research on soft-tissue treatments for upper and lower limb based on the past 25 years concluded that myofascial release improves outcomes for lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow).
Myofascial release to the gastrocnemius, soleus (your calf) and plantar fascia (feet) was also found to be effective. Similar results were obtained in a randomized controlled trial at Illinois University (Stanek et al. 2018) where the ankle range of movement was increased after a single session of compressive myofascial release, on physically active participants.
Another systematic review from 2015 (Yuan et al.) looked at the effectiveness of different styles of massage therapy in fibromyalgia, which is a type of chronic pain. The results showed that myofascial release had large, positive effects on pain and medium effects on anxiety and depression, effects on pain and depression were maintained in the medium term. Myofascial release also improves fatigue, stiffness and quality of life; connective tissue massage improves depression and quality of life. Overall, myofascial release is beneficial for fibromyalgia symptoms. However, not all evidence is similarly positive and in another systematic review (Laimi et al. 2018) looking at chronic musculoskeletal pain, the effects of myofascial release were not proven.
In summary, there is evidence on both sides, the most promising on lower limb stiffness and fibromyalgia. There is only one way to find out whether it works for you, by making an appointment with a qualified therapist offering this type of treatment.
Cost of the treatment
30 minutes – £30.00 (Follow up appointments only)
45 minutes – £40.00
60 minutes – £50.00