Myofascial Release: This months feature
Perhaps your doctor or physical therapist recently mentioned that you should consider getting “myofascial release.” Your physical therapist may have incorporated myofascial release into your treatment, but you are still left wondering, “what in the world are you people talking about? What is my myo-fascia anyway?”
Myo refers to Muscle. (Perhaps you’ve heard your favorite hunk on Grey’s Anatomy sling out the long phrase “myocardial infarction” to explain to another doctor that the patient had a heart attack… well “myocardial” means heart muscle)
Fascial refers to a thin layer of tissue that wraps all muscles and organs in the body like plastic wrap. (Ever notice that thin translucent layer on raw chicken breast; that’s fascia) This thin layer plays some important roles in your body. It helps the different layers of tissue move around each other smoothly, and keeps everything in place.
You may not be aware, but your body is busy taking care of itself all day, every day. While we clumsily stumble through life, our bodies are patching and repairing the damage. This beautiful self-help kit is awesome, but sometimes the patches (scar tissue) that the body lays down on connective tissue, muscle, and fascia start to get a little sticky. Then we inevitably don’t drink enough water, and our fascia gets dehydrated. That’s when it loses that great smooth glide. All of sudden we start waking up feeling a little creaky.
When pain and movement dysfunction goes beyond the point of “feeling a little creaky” to “wow I can’t move my arm!” you might want to find someone to help you get out of pain and muscle dysfunction. Myofascial Release is a very effective massage technique that moves the fascia away from surrounding muscle, connective tissue, and adipose tissue to free up the fascia from scar tissue and adhesions, and allows for more freedom of movement.
Massage Therapy as an integral part of Sports Medicine
“Sports medicine, also known as sport and exercise medicine, is a branch of medicine that deals with physical fitness and the treatment and prevention of injuries related to sports and exercise. Although most sports teams have employed team physicians for many years, it is only since the late 20th century that sports medicine has emerged as a distinct field of healthcare.” (Wikipedia)
Today there are a variety of professionals that help athletes reach their highest performance potential. Sports teams employ Athletic Trainers, Physical Therapists, and Massage Therapists, just to name a few, to create a well rounded team of knowledgeable professionals to help their athletes in training and injury recovery.
No one at Body Truing Massage Therapy has a PhD, but the role of massage therapists in a professional athlete’s performance is often overlooked by the general public. By combining massage techniques with knowledge of neuromuscular communication, massage therapists are able to send specific messages to the muscles to improve speed, agility, and strength. For decades massage has been an integral part of athletes obtaining greatness.
A little history:
In the 1924 Summer Olympics held in Paris, Paavo Nurmi, of Finland, won 5 gold medals, and broke a world record for speed. He attributed much of his success to his work with a massage therapist. From that point forward, for every medal won by a Russian Olympic athlete, a medal was also given to the massage therapist that worked with that athlete. For more of the timeline of massage therapy’s role in sports here is a useful article on MassageTherapy.com.
Therapeutic Massage and Sports Massage Techniques
Massage is the manipulation of superficial and deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue using various techniques, to enhance function, aid in the healing process, decrease muscle reflex activity, inhibit motor-neuron excitability, promote relaxation and well-being.
Various techniques used at Body Truing Massage Therapy include: Swedish massage, myofascial release, trigger point therapy, and sports massage.
Sports Massage uses all the same techniques of Swedish massage with applied science to communicate specifically with the neuromuscular system. Sports massage has 3 phases: Pre-Event, Post-Event, and Training. An additional aspect of sports massage is for rehabilitation.
- Pre-Event: Influences neuromuscular communication to prepare the muscles and the mind for the event in front of the athlete. The massage therapist must assess what tasks the athlete will be doing, as well as, the mental state of the athlete to properly prepare them for optimal performance.
- Post-Event: Works to avoid muscle soreness, repairs, and helps the body recover from an event.
- Training: Massage can actually take the place of a workout while an athlete is training for an event. Training massage is supportive and replenishing, but also helps the athlete maintain peak fitness.
- Rehabilitative Sports Massage: Massage can help muscle and connective tissue heal faster, maintain tone around an injured area and bolster recovery from an injury. Ever wonder how a professional athlete is able to play exactly 6 weeks after a broken bone? Massage is one of their secret weapons.
Swedish massage is comprised of five basic techniques: efflourage (gliding), petrissage (kneading), friction, tapotement (percussion), and vibration.
Trigger point therapy aims to alleviate pain in one area of your body by using isolated pressure and release massage points on adjacent areas of your body. For example, if you have pain in your back, trigger point therapy can target areas in your shoulders to reduce your overall pain points.
Myofascial release aims to alleviate pain and tension in your body by focusing on sustained pressure on the connective tissue in your body (the fascia). Myofascial release is particularly helpful for individuals dealing with prolonged inflammation or other trauma.
Common Soft Tissue Ailments and Injuries Where Massage Can Help
Frozen shoulder (officially called adhesive capsulitis), is where stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint starts slowly, but ultimately worsens over time to an unbearable point. Frozen shoulder syndrome can decrease the shoulders range of motion completely, and often occurs when an injury to the shoulder necessitates that the shoulder stay still or in a sling. If you’re suffering from frozen shoulder, massage therapy is one of the best treatments to begin your recovery. Marly Shaffer has successfully treated a frozen shoulder case where the client hadn’t been able to move it for over a year.
Upper Back Pain has become one of the most common complaints of clients at Body Truing Massage Therapy, so it has become a priority to find ways therapeutic massage can resolve this issue. Upper back pain is often caused because of too much strain and stretch on the muscle in the upper back. Most people work in front of them, with their arms out, tightening the chest muscles and stretching out the muscles of the upper back. This stretch signals an alarm to the brain and the brain responds with a pain signal to try to get the body to correct the bad posture that is creating this imbalance. Our approach to treating upper back pain is to regain balance between the muscles of the chest and those in the upper back. (Read a testimonial about how Body Truing Massage Therapy’s treatment of upper back pain was helpful: #4 in the list.)
Low Back Pain is one of the most common complaints today. It can be completely debilitating There are a wide variety of causes of low back pain, but in all cases, the muscles of the low back are affected. If they aren’t the initial cause of the pain, they inevitably contribute to it. That is why massage therapy is such a good remedy for low back pain.
Sciatica is an intense pain that originates in the gluteal region and radiates down the back of the leg. There are 2 main causes of Sciatica: Sciatic nerve impingement by pelvic bones, and impingement by muscles, usually the piriformis muscle. Regardless of the origin of the problem, massage therapy has proven to be very effective in reducing Sciatic pain.
Runners Knee and Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome: Runners Knee is a common term to describe any number of knee problems; one of which is Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. Knee pain can creep up on just about anyone, and there are a number of different causes. Since the knee is a joint situated between, and easily affected by, two other joints (the ankle and hip) the permutations for causes of knee pain are sometimes too numerous to count. Massage therapy may solve the problem completely or at least get you closer to finding the cause and getting relief.
For more fascinating information about muscles, common injuries, and how massage can help, check out the blog!
Contact Body Truing Massage Therapy Today
Marly Shaffer of Body Truing Massage Therapy in Tucson, AZ, works one-on-one with massage clients to bring alignment and balance to the human body through therapeutic massage and sports massage while also using deep tissue massage techniques. Serving the greater Tucson, AZ, area from Casas Adobes and North Tucson to South Tucson, the goal of Body Truing Massage Therapy is to get you back doing what you love!