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What The Heck Is A Myofascial "Trigger Point" Release Massage?

Updated on March 14, 2014

Myofacial Release (MFR) Therapy

A myofascial release massage, also known as “myofascial trigger point therapy”, is a treatment that focuses on relieving pain from the myofascial muscles. This is done by massaging the myofascial muscles.

The myofascial muscles are the tough membranes that wrap, connect, and support most of the structures in the body, including muscles. The body can become very soar or painful as a result of disease, overuse, trauma, infections, or inactivity.

As a result, the myofascial therapist will attempt to locate areas that feel stiff even though it is sometimes difficult to locate the precise source. These areas are treated to increase muscle and joint movements and decrease widespread muscle pain.

Myofascial release therapy can improve painful muscle and joint movement
Myofascial release therapy can improve painful muscle and joint movement | Source

Who Should Consider Myofascial Release Therapy

Myofascial release therapy can be beneficial for those suffering with or have been diagnosed with:

  • Dizziness due to impaired balance caused by muscle strain to the neck

  • Back strain, chronic back pain, lower back pain, or thoracic back pain

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

  • Chronic cervical pain

  • Fibrositis

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Headaches or migraines

  • TMJ dysfunction

  • Whiplash

  • Post-polio symptoms

  • Various other types of trigger point (tender point) pain

How open are you to try Myofascial Release Therapy?

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How Is it Administered?

Myofascial release massages can be administered in a passive manner (patient stays completely relaxed) or in an active manner (patient provides resistance as necessary).

Physical therapists often administer the myofascial release, but it may also be offered by osteopathic physicians, chiropractors, massage therapists, and others who are trained in this method.

Two Types of Myofascial Release Massages

There are two types of myofascial release massages – direct and indirect.

During direct myofascial release massages constant and intense force is applied until full motion of tight muscles is restored.

Indirect myofascial release therapy entails gentle stretches with only a bit of pressure guiding muscles along the path of least resistance until free movement is achieved.


How Does A Myofascial Release Massage Differ From Other Types Of Massages?

Myofascial pain originates in “trigger points” which are related to stiffness within the fascial and can be hard to narrow down into one area. Myofascial release treatment is meant to concentrate on restrictions where areas of muscle and fascia have become tense or tight.

Injury, tension, repetitive motion, or poor posture can cause fascia and muscle to tense up. Since fascia connects all parts of the body with each other, tensing in one area can negatively impact others as well.

A myofascial release massage reduces pain and increases mobility.

The goal of myofascial release therapy is to:

  • Relax contracted muscles

  • Improve blood and lymphatic circulation

  • Stimulate stretch reflex in muscles

  • Restore motion

  • Decrease overall pain

What Are The Benefits?

Many patients seek myofascial release therapy after losing flexibility or muscle function following an injury or if they experience ongoing shoulder, back, hip, or pain in any area containing soft tissue.

Myofascial release therapy, essentially, peels away at the layers of the injury or pain until the source is ultimately discovered and can be treated.

What Can One Expect During A Myofascial Release Therapy Session?

Techniques for myofascial release therapy vary from therapist to therapist but sessions should follow a pattern similar to physical therapy. The first appointment will be dedicated to locating the restricted areas of the fasciae and determining the depth of the loss of motion.

Subsequently, appointments can take place daily or every few days, last between 30-50 minutes, and take place on an outpatient status by a trained therapist in a quiet area.

Sudden muscle and joint pain can be eliminated by a myofascial release massage.
Sudden muscle and joint pain can be eliminated by a myofascial release massage. | Source

Sounds Great...So Now What?

Before considering myofascial release therapy conduct research and request referrals before you choose a therapist and understand that therapy will take place over a few weeks or months, depending on the nature and intensity of the disability.

This natural alternative to pain relief will work over time and can be effective if performed according to your therapists recommendations.

For more information about the benefits of a massage please read these related articles:

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