Myofascial Release

What is myofascial release?

Myofascial term is derived from two terms including ‘ Myo’ means muscle and ‘Facia’ means bands or fibers. Myfacial release is a therapy which is also termed as hand on therapy used pain management.

myofascial release

In this therapy application of mild prolonged pressure is given into the Myofascial connected tissue. The application of gentle pressure helps to release the shortness or tightness of the muscular fibers.

This treatment helps patients to restore the flexibility which may be defeated due to injury or day to day wear and tear of the tissue. In addition to these, different joint disorder and even migraine pain is also managed by myofascial release therapy.


Any trigger point pain, related to myofacial can be benefitted by this therapy. Chronic headache including migraine can be a relief by myofascial release. In mild to severe headache the gentle massage is provided around the neck and head helps to lessen the pain intensity.

Some patients suffer from leg muscle cramps due to venous insufficiency. In this condition, blood pools in the deep veins and damages the affected veins. Myofascial release is beneficial for reducing the blood pooling and pain management, which are initiated by venous insufficiency.

Other than these, myofascial release therapy also applicable for carpel tunnel syndrome, Temporo-Mandibular joint disorder and also in case of fibromyalgia. The usual symptoms of these conditions which can be controlled by myofascial release therapy are:

  • The restricted motion due to tightness of the muscular tissues through over activity which mainly occurs in the hip or shoulder joints.
  • Pain or spasms generated due to undue pressure generated in the muscle fibers.
  • Stress generating pain in any part of the body including head and neck.

Self Massage Techniques

Self-massage techniques can provide pain relief.  The following basic instructions of Self-massage, specifically at the trigger points are discussed below:

For mild pain, gentle rubbing at the affected area help to reduce the pain. For moderate pain, several sets of rubbing process continuing for a certain days may be applied for self management techniques.

For severe pain, six time massaging, especially kneading strokes of 20-30 per day for a week may provide beneficial results. This treatment can control trigger points, but proper locating the trigger point is a quite tough process and need proper training for this.

Massaging the trigger point with what?

Fingertips, fist, thumbs or elbow, whatever is convenient can be used. Even some simple tools like tennis ball can also be applicable where the hand cannot reach easily.

The direction for rubbing

During the massage you should not worry about the muscle fibrous direction, simple pressing and holding the pressure for a short duration may 10 to 100 seconds and then release the pressure.

You can also apply light kneading strokes rotating pattern or backward to the forward direction. In case you can able to locate the direction of muscle fibers, and then apply the massage elongated pattern in a parallel direction.  This produces more effective results.

How much pressure should apply?

Right pressure during massaging is very important, because it stimulates nervous systems. In pain scale the pressure must generate 4 to 7 (1 is a negligible pain, whereas 10 is intolerable pain) intensity with the pain scale. First, start with gentle rubbing and then pressure should increase gradually according to the tolerability.

During massaging, usual feeling generated is satisfactory, if the affected trigger point is targeted. The pain generated during massage that counter irritates the actual pain, the feeling of good pain is generated.

In case of generation of backfires due to negative reaction may be lessened within an hour / hours. This is generated due to tissue need some time for adapting the pressure generated due to massaging the surrounded trigger point, and few days regular treatment can ease up the backfires. If this will not happen, then it indicates the process may be wrong or the pain is not generated due to stimulation of trigger points, but cause differs.

Where to massage?

Massage at the pain site, if the trigger point also present at that site provides better results. Even if the triggering point is not present at the site, then also the proper intensity of massage can help to produce relief from pain. Not to worry about referred pain.

What if the trigger point is not where the pain is?

As you learned earlier in the tutorial, trigger points may generate symptoms that aren’t where the trigger point is! As a beginner, what to do? Don’t worry about it too much. Remember, this is a basic trigger point treatment. Bear in mind the possibility of confusing referred pain, but don’t worry about it unless basic therapy is failing.

How much should you rub?

Massage each suspected trigger point for about 30 seconds. This is actually enough for many trigger points — especially if you think that you have several points that all need attention! Five minutes is roughly the maximum that any trigger point will need at one time, but there is not really any limit — if rubbing the trigger point continues to feel good, you should certainly feel free to keep going.

Rub how often?

As long as you aren’t experiencing any negative reactions, you should massage a key trigger point at least once per day, and as often as a half dozen times per day.

Limitation of myofascial release

myofascial release therapy cannot be useful for the following conditions

  • In case of burn
  • Bone fracture
  • Osteoporosis
  • Thrombosis
  • If the patient is treated with blood thinning agent

Following rare risks are associated with myofascial release:

  • bleeding
  • Reversible paralysis
  • Hypersensitivity due to massaging with oil, ointments or gels
  • Neurological damage

Scientific Evidence about the effectiveness of the myofascial release

There is a lack of evidence regarding the effectiveness of the myofascial release, as the technique is totally dependent upon the therapist. The actual result is differing, but it provides rare risk and without having any side effects. Traditional use of myofascial release is quite safe and popular method.



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