Myofascial Release treatment in Brisbane

Myofascial Release therapy - Brisbane (Morningside)

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What is Myofascial Release?

Myofascial Release (MFR) is a manual therapy, which assesses and treats painful soft tissues. Adhesions and restrictions in soft tissues and fascia can restrict mobility and create myofascial pain. Releasing such restrictions or myofascial trigger points (MTrPs) can increase mobility and provide myofascial pain relief. The therapy technique is just one of many available at the Brisbane (Morningside) MSK Clinic. The medical doctor and founder of Osteopathic Medicine, Andrew Still, has been credited with pioneering Myofascial Release techniques. However, there have been other well-known contributions to MFR techniques notably by Ida Rolf (Rolfing). The specific term "Myofascial Release" came about much later in the 1960s, through the work of an Osteopath "Robert Ward" and Physiotherapist "John Barnes". Muscles, fascia and the fascial network, play a large part in the theory behind the method and its development, as do Myofascial Trigger Point's (MTrP's) or TrP's for short. In brief, trigger points are hyperirritable taut bands within muscle tissues and structures. Some fascial release methods look to precisely locate and treat TrP's and other techniques have a broader scope. Actual research relating to the field of fascia is a relatively new area of study (a few decades).


Does releasing myofascial tissue work?

Although there is some fascinating research relating to the roles that fascia plays within the human body, there is far less conclusive research concerning the efficacy of MFR. Much of the research behind the roles of fascia stems from anatomists and under the umbrella of medicine. As with any research, research costs time and money and requires funding. Most Allied Health Professionals are required to complete a research component as part of their higher education qualifications, though this research tends to be profession-specific. Some musculoskeletal professionals such as Chiropractors, Osteopaths and Physiotherapists learn many styles of soft-tissue therapy. Allied health professionals may or may not learn myofascial release methods as part of their higher education training. That said, some professionals will undertake further training in myofascial techniques after qualifying in their chosen profession. However, just because MFR techniques may not have conclusive research regarding the efficacy of such techniques does not mean they do not work. Clinical judgement based on training, education, accumulated experience and research covering related areas is all highly relevant. Our principal Musculoskeletal therapist has been using many different myofascial techniques for well over a decade and found them to be extremely effective. He has also found that it is possible to produce fast and sometimes profound and long-lasting results for consumers. As an ex-veteran and somebody who has and continues to be extremely active, our principal became interested in MFR as a means of treating some historic injuries he had and which were not being resolved by the general medicine approach (see the ankle injury article for further details). The process involved a lot of self-experimentation and additional training in a multitude of methods.


What are the benefits of MFR treatment?

There are many myofascial styles which can effectively release tissues in slightly different ways. Knowing when to apply or not to apply a specific method will be dependent on clinical judgement, training, education and practitioner experience. With the correct knowledge and technique application, it is possible to produce some fast-acting and long-lasting results for consumers. One of the best aspects of myofascial treatments is the ability to be apply such methods passively or actively. Purely passively treating tissues tends not to utilise tissues as one would naturally use them when performing normal activities. Hence, everything may seem fine at the time of treatment, but not later while performing normal activities. Unlike normal prescriptive exercises (stretches), many myofascial techniques aim to treat virtually the entirety of the tissues or structures, suspected of causing the consumer's symptoms. Self-myofascial release (SMR) can also prove helpful in some cases, though there are limits on what one can achieve (see the SMR section and articles later). There are also occasions where it may not be effective or make things worse.


Fascial releasing techniques

Myofascial Release tools

There are many methods for assessing, treating and performing myofascial release. Treatments aim to treat myofascial pain and dysfunctional tissues, including fascia, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Such methods are well suited to treating both MSK and myofascial acute and chronic pain conditions (see article). Treatment may also use a style that works in a "static" or "dynamic" way. Typically, "static" releases would involve the practitioner assessing and treating tissues with the consumer staying still "static". Dynamically, applied releases involve the consumer moving the tissues under assessment/treatment, with or without the therapist applying a technique with movement. Therapists can also treat tissues in either weight-bearing or non-weight-bearing positions. Myofascial therapy techniques can be used to treat a vast area of muscles and tissues, provided the practitioner has excellent physiological and anatomical knowledge. Some therapy techniques have patented protocols or are registered trademarks, such as Active Release Technique (ART) ®. Soft Tissue Release (STR) is also another and yet a very different method of myofascial treatment (see the MFR related articles below for further details on Soft Tissue Release (STR)). Although some forms of MFR require direct skin contact and massage lotion or similar, others do not. One can apply many types of MFR directly through clothing and are great for trackside treatment or office settings.

Some versions use tools to replace a therapists hand, forearm etc. Many such methods use specially shaped myofascial release tools. Such techniques broadly fit under the heading Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilisation (IASTM) these days. There are also many patented and trademarked versions of such methods, including Graston Technique ®. That said, just because something is trademarked or patented does not necessarily mean that it is better than other treatment methods. Trademarks and Patents are more about protecting intellectual property and financial interests. Although the broad term IASTM is relatively new, many techniques have similarities to ancient treatment methods like Gua Sha. Most IASTM techniques involve some form of friction massage, with variations between methods. Tools also exist for self-myofascial release (SMR) therapy, such as foam rollers, massage balls, massage sticks etc. (see the related SMR articles further down).

Muscle Energy Technique (MET) and variants of this are also forms of releasing myofascia and tend to be used in specific circumstances, (see the MFR related articles below for further details on MET). Another very useful method or protocol is that of Positional Release Technique (PRT) and when used correctly can prove highly effective at reducing Myofascial pain and spasms, (see the MFR related articles below for further details on PRT). Some soft-tissue release treatments specifically aim to treat focal points of pain within tissues or myofasical trigger points (TrPs). Techniques such as, Acupressure, Neuromuscular Technique or Therapy (NMT) and trigger point therapy work with trigger points (TrPs), (see the MFR related articles below for further details on NMT). That said, cupping and acupuncture may, too, depending on how the practitioner uses the techniques. A more invasive and precise technique for treating myofascial pain is Trigger Point Dry Needling, though some consumers may not like the idea of needling. A good practitioner should have training, knowledge and experience in various techniques and know-how and in what circumstances to apply each technique. Hence, if a technique is not suitable for a consumer, the practitioner can still achieve treatment goals using other techniques.

Myofascial Pain Relief - Treatment and Techniques

It is possible to perform myofascial release techniques like Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT), Soft Tissue Release (STR), Muscle Energy Techniques (MET), and Positional Release through clothing. Many of these methods do not require direct skin contact, the need to undress, or the use of massage lotion. Hence, one can avoid that oily feeling after treatment and when getting reclothed. Other techniques such as Gua Sha, IASTM and other forms of myofascial release require direct skin contact and massage lotion. STR can work extremely well with direct or indirect skin contact and with or without lotion. Trigger Point Dry Needling is another method of treating myofascial pain requiring direct skin contact.


Can you do myofascial release on yourself?

Self Myofascial Release (SMR) tools

There are many types of fascial release techniques, and part of the skill of a good therapist is knowing when it is "safe" and appropriate to use each particular method. Equally, there are many self-myofascial release (SMR) tools on the market. However, it would appear that some people demonstrating the use of such devices have extremely questionable anatomy, physiology and technique understanding. Some tools can be used fairly effectively for forms of Neuromuscular Technique (NMT) and Trigger Point Therapy (Massage balls, squash balls), (see the article on Self Trigger Point Therapy (TPT) and Massage Balls). Other tools can prove useful for petrissage type release techniques (foam rollers and massage sticks). Equally, with the correct knowledge, it is possible to use a spiky massage ball in a self soft tissue release (STR) context (see the article Self Myofascial Release (SMR) for legs - not just runners). These techniques all work differently and can work well when applied in the correct situation and when tissues are in a suitable state to use the method. However, there is not a "one tool fits all" and regardless of what people think one cannot effectively treat the entire body with these tools. Tissues under treatment in a self-treatment context tend not to be in a relaxed state. Self-treatment also often involves twisting one's body to access tissues, and this creates changes in biotensegrity (see related articles later). Such changes in a self-treatment context affect the ability to apply techniques correctly and the state of the tissues under treatment. The internet is full of videos of people supposedly foam rolling all kinds of muscles. The article on Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) using Foam Roller provides some useful pointers. It can be easy to bruise muscles or make symptoms far worse by attempting to use the wrong technique in the wrong circumstances. Self-maintenance is still advisable, but it is just essential to understand the limitations of the tools, techniques and treatment in a self treatment context (see the related article below). Even therapists need outside treatment help.

SMR Related articles and techniques


Massage and Myotherapy Registrations

Terry brings over 15 years of experience working in the MSK Therapy field back to Brisbane from the UK. He is highly qualified with training and experience covering many assessment methods, treatment types and soft tissue therapy (STT) skills. Terry's sporting activities, experiences and interests have naturally led to him specialising in the treatment of trauma and myofascial pain relief. He also taught as a senior course coach over seven years ago on one of the first myotherapy courses in Brisbane. His skills are now available at the Morningside clinic, where he works as a Myotherapist.