Massage and myofascial release techniques are used to treat pain and stiffness originating from the musculoskeletal system.
Massage is a gentle soft tissue technique involving stroking and kneading of the skin and underlying tissues. It usually involves the use of massage oil to lubricate the skin to aid the gliding motion of the therapist’s hands over the patient’s skin. Massage is an ideal technique to use when muscles are tense and fatigued due to stress to the soft tissue system e.g. awkward or unaccustomed postural demands.
There are many different techniques to do myofascial release, but one method involves the application of deeper, sustained, steady pressure to restricted areas in the body that have been identified by thorough assessment by the physiotherapist. This pressure can be sustained for 3 to 5 minutes to encourage the underlying connective tissue to soften, stretch, and thus release.
Lubricants are not commonly used during myofascial release to allow the therapist to better locate areas of restriction. The main aims of myofascial release are to increase the underlying tissue elasticity, increase temperature, stimulate neural and mechanoreceptors and improve blood flow, thus promoting the body’s natural healing process and reducing pain.
The fascial system is a 3-dimensional network of connective tissue that runs throughout the body, linking all muscles, tendons, bones, joint capsules, and neural structures together. Myofascial pain can, therefore, be difficult to pinpoint as it may spread throughout this network. Myofascial release is a very effective treatment technique for acute and chronic pain conditions.