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Introduction to Myofascial Release Therapy

Myofascial release therapy is a specialized massage technique that focuses on releasing tension and tightness in the myofascial tissues. That is a circular definition of course so to better understand it, let’s first examine what myofascial tissue is and its role.

Myofascial tissue is the thin flexible connective tissue that encases and supports muscles, bones, and organs throughout the body. Fascia provide structural integrity and allows for smooth movement and function of the muscular systems. Any of you who cook meat regularly will have seen it in the form of the thin, tough, white tissue that encases different sections of the cut.

Factors such as physical damage, misalignment, prolonged poor posture, repetitive strain or movement can cause the fascia can become tight, restricted, or develop adhesions, leading to discomfort or pain, and limiting your range of motion.

Moving on to the actual therapy, “myofascial release” sounds technical, but in essence it is simply a hands-on massage technique that aims to release and stretch the fascial restrictions. The goals are the same as any therapeutic massage, namely to restore balance, relieve pain, and improve overall physical function.

The practical techniques used in myofascial release massage do vary from those you have come to expect from regular deep tissue massage. Generally, the myofascial release therapist applies more sustained and much slower pressure. The pressure can remain static for quite a long time, when the therapist is just causing myofascial traction. In its strictest form no oil is used, and this does cause sensations of ‘pulling’ on the skin. The therapist will use palms, fingers and knuckles, as well as specialised tools in a series of movements called ‘shearing’, ‘stripping’ and ‘rolling’. They all sound uncomfortable but are quite gentle! Deep tissue massage on the other hand can feel like the therapist is ‘digging’ deeper into the muscle
The symptoms addressed by myofascial release therapy are broadly the same as might be helped with a conventional massage, such as back pain, neck pain, headaches, postural imbalance, and sports injuries. By releasing the fascial restrictions, it can help improve posture, alignment, and body mechanics, reducing strain on the musculoskeletal system.

There are a few potential disadvantages and risks to consider. First, it is essential to have a qualified and experienced therapist perform the technique. Improper or excessive pressure during myofascial release may lead to bruising, soreness, or temporary discomfort. Second, myofascial release can require many sessions to achieve lasting results. The process of releasing fascial restrictions can be time-consuming, so patience and commitment to the treatment plan are crucial!

At Thai Kosai we do not provide specific myofascial release therapy, but as we have outlined, some of the techniques overlap and Thai massage can help alleviate many of the same symptoms as those addressed in myofascial release. Thanks for reading!

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