Myofascial Release: Massage Away Your Muscle Tension

The intense physical demands athletes place on their bodies may lead to the shortening of muscle fibers and fascia over time. The result of this shortening is increased fatigue, and a loss of power and speed. Over time, you can develop constant tightness in certain areas and have difficulty maintaining good posture. You are probably familiar with the "knots" developing in certain areas of your body, and at times it may feel like you are walking around in a straight jacket.

What is Muscle Fascia?

Fascia is the connective tissue that runs through and between every muscle, vessel, nerve and organ in the body. This includes the brain and spinal cord. It is a continuous sheath or web running from head to toe without interruption, almost like the yarn of a sweater. In a normal state, fascia is fluid and pliable. Over time, the life experiences of physical trauma, stress, injury, scarring and inflammation can cause the fascia to harden into restrictions or knots. This affects the proper functioning and comfort of the body. These restrictions can result in pressures with a force of up to 2,000 pounds per square inch. Among other symptoms, they can cause muscle spasms, pain, tightness, discomfort, fatigue and loss of movement.

Myofascial Release

Myofascial release is a therapeutic technique designed to release these constricted tissues. The hands of the therapist tap into adhesions in the fascia and muscles. A sustained pressure is held in this area for a minimum of 90 seconds, facilitating the unwinding and release of the restriction. The longer the hold on the tissue, the deeper the release can be. MFR aids the innate wisdom of the client's body to release these restrictions and redevelop their "tissue memory" so that a state of well being is restored.

MFR is a dynamic therapy modality in which patient and therapist work together to create health and harmony in the body. A treatment session typically begins with a visual and hands-on evaluation of the patient's posture and tissue tightness. The therapist keeps in mind the client's symptoms or complaints, but trusts that the cause of the problem may not be in the same place as the symptom. MFR is a mindful massage technique of the whole body, with a hands on approach to restoring balance and range of motion.

By opening restrictions in the fascia--or web that holds the body together--muscles can relax and lengthen. Circulation and nerve conduction are revitalized, and inflammation is reduced. MFR also restores body balance by taking unnecessary pressures off vital organs and vessels. As the muscle tissue regains its fluidity, range of motion increases and performance is enhanced.

Benefits

MFR helps prevent muscle imbalances from overuse and repetitive motions. Posture and a full range of motion are regained. Myofascial release is great for injury prevention and also for recovery as it and brings oxygen and nutrients to the damaged muscles.

Matt Russ has coached and trained elite athletes from around the country and internationally for over 10 years. He currently holds expert licenses from USA Triathlon, USA Cycling, and is a licensed USA Track and Field Coach. Matt is head coach and owner of The Sport Factory, and works with athletes of all levels full-time. He is a freelance author and his articles are regularly featured in a variety of magazines and websites. Visit www.thesportfactory.com for more information or email him at coachmatt@thesportfactory.com.

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