Your body’s fascia, or myofascial system, is a large web of woven flexible soft tissue. A bit like what Spiderman squirts but much more dense and comprising three separate layers. But instead of surrounding you superficially, your myofascial system is located under your skin and envelops each and every one of your bones, organs, vessels and muscles completely. You can't escape it!
Under normal healthy conditions your myofascial tissues are relaxed and supple. However excessive strain or injury can cause some parts of those tissues to tighten, creating problematic areas within the overall web. These tight spots are called myofascial trigger points. The development of trigger points can causes sufferers chronic discomfort and pain in a condition known as myofascial pain syndrome.
Myofascial release therapy is a system of massage techniques that are designed to target tension and release tightness in the body’s fascia, thus restoring health and reducing the symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome.
Myofascial massage is a form of trigger point therapy. Since trigger points cause myofascial pain, sufferers often feel the discomfort in a different part of the body to that which is actually causing it. This is known as 'referred pain'.
A myofascial release therapist begins a typical treatment by feeling all around the body with the tips of their fingers to feel for unexpected tight spots, which might be the cause of the issue. It is important to check not only the area of pain but also remote areas, as pain is often transferred to other parts, hence the name 'trigger point'.
Once your therapist has located any trigger points, they will apply precisely targeted and precise pressure to that point for several seconds before releasing. This procedure is repeated several times with the aim to loosen any tightly wound fibres within the fascia.
Trigger point massage for chronic pain is a very widely used technique with hundreds of thousands of therapists practising myofascial release therapy around the world. Until recently however there was a lack of scientific research on the subject. In 2015 the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy published results of a review on myofascial release which concluded that certain such methods, including self massage, can be an effective way to aid recovery.
Myofascial release therapy works best over a period of time through a course of several sessions. Making time to visit a qualified therapist repeatedly can be time consuming and difficult to organise. Luckily, there are many mobile therapists available in and around London who are trained in trigger point release techniques. To find a suitably qualified therapist near you, select myofascial release in the online massage booking system and easily check which trained therapists are available in your postcode area.
If you are unable to find and book a professional therapist, you could instead try some self-myofascial release (SMR) techniques by yourself at home, such as foam rolling.
There are many similarities between myofascial pain syndrome and fibromyalgia, and whilst one can intensify the other, the two conditions are actually different. Massage techniques for fibromyalgia are also similar but differ primarily in the area of application.
Fibromyalgia usually causes highly exaggerated tenderness and sensitivity in the exact area where the fibres have become damaged. In contrast, whilst myofascial pain is also related to damaged fibres, sufferers more often complain of pain rather than extreme sensitivity. The point of pain is also usually more widespread, being experienced not only at the trigger point but also referred to other parts of the body.
Chronic muscle pain can cause serious disruption to your livelihood and ability to perform regular daily tasks. Left untreated, it can also lead to mental health issues such as anxiety, stress and depression. Don't delay, check with your doctor today and start a course of treatments to relax your own internal web to its former glory!
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