Picture this scenario:
A woman walks into her doctor’s office complaining of a sharp and nagging pain in her shoulder, just beneath her shoulder-blade. She mentions she has tried taking over the counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications, but expresses concern for the potential side-effects of taking them for prolonged periods. Her doctor recommends taking x-rays for any possible damage to the joint, but tells her “it’s probably just muscular”, and recommends a few sessions of Myofascial Release.
This is a common scenario that leaves many patients scratching their heads, needing a translation more than anything else. It’s true, doctors tend to recommend treatments that have specific therapeutic purposes, rather than the more casual approach, which would amount to, “Try getting a massage”.
So, what is Myofascial Release anyway?
Myofascial Release, is one and the same as Massage. Myo is the preface for Muscle, so myofascial is medical terminology for Muscle-Fascia. Fascia is the connective tissue which acts as the scaffolding for our tissues, organs and systems. Our Muscles are surrounded by many layers of Fascia, so, essentially ALL of our muscles are myofascial. Therefore, Myofascial Release means muscle release, or, aha! Massage!
But, since not all types of massage claim to access muscle tissue, and the deeper layers of fascia, Myofascial Release is a good term to use when you need work that should address muscular pain. Your practitioner needn’t use much oil or lotion, and should be working deep into the tissue, kneading the superficial layers until it becomes warmed up and pliable. Getting the connective tissue more circulation will get more oxygen and nutrients to those painful areas, and hopefully flush away some of the byproducts of a dysfunctional muscle, or group of muscles.
So, if, and when your doctors tells you to get Myofascial Release, just find your nearest massage practitioner and book an appointment! No time like the present!