Myofascial Release (MFR): When the Effect Is More Pleasant Than the Process
Takhir Almazbekov, RMT - Registered Massage Therapist & Cupping Therapy Practitioner
You have possibly noticed in a gym or fitness studio that people roll their muscles using a cylindrical ball and different shaped tools. Sometimes they say that it is painful, sometimes they say that they feel good. You are possibly one of those people who “roll their muscles on the floor,” which is a very valuable method of self-massage. Let’s figure out what “Myofascial release” is and why we need it.
Origin of MFR
“Myo” from Greek means “Muscle”.
“Fascia” from Latin means a band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin. This attaches, stabilizes, encloses and separates muscles as well as other internal organs.
The word “release” is self-explanatory.
Dr. Janet G. Travell pioneered techniques for the treatment of Myofascial pain. While working at the White House as a personal physician to President J. F. Kennedy, Dr. Travell helped treat his severe back pain. She discovered that pain could be reduced to zero by applying compressions on “trigger points” or nodes. Later in the 60’s, osteopath Robert Ward and physiotherapist John F. Barns developed the MFR method.
What are Myofascial Trigger Points (MTPs)?
Simply speaking, MTPs are muscle knots. Muscles stop working properly, blood circulation worsens and pain occurs.
The main reason MTPs occur: Not enough or more than normal physical activity and dehydration. When we spend the whole day on the computer and forget to drink water, our body aches. Physical work and stress could also be reasons for MTPs.
Irrespective of where you work, in an office or a more physically demanding job, MTPs may occur in different areas of your body. That is why everyone needs MFR, Myofascial Trigger Point Release.
How to Perform MFR?
Massage rolls and balls are very helpful to release restrictions in fascial and muscle tissue. Rolls help to work out up to 80% of muscles and fascia. Balls are smaller so they can impact deeper and you can try using them in different points like feet, gluteal area and chest muscles.
Do not confuse MFR with stretching exercises. Stretching increases flexibility and the length of the muscle, it does not affect the fascia. Mobility and proper work on muscles really depends on the condition of the fascia. Only massage and MFR can impact fascia.
How am I Going to Feel After MFR?
Effects from MFR are equal to massage therapy. Blood circulation in muscles improves,
muscle tightness reduces, the flexibility of muscles and range of motion in joints increase.
Thanks to MFR, muscles will work properly during a workout, which lowers the risk of trauma.
Will MFR Affect my Everyday Life?
MFR simply improves the quality of life.
Trigger points in sedentary life style may lead to pinched nerves, back pain and headaches.
If you work out regularly and do not work on trigger points, you are at risk of bringing your muscles to hypertonicity and trauma.
How Often Should I Perform MFR?
It is recommend you do a short MFR massage before each workout, as part of your warm up routine. MFR will help reduce muscles spasms and increase blood circulation. Perform a full body self-massage at least once a week.
It is not recommended to use MFR rolls in the lumbar area because it is not protected as well as the upper back with shoulder blades and muscles. It is also not recommended to work in areas with muscle inflammation.
Each trigger point should not be worked on for more than 15 seconds and each muscle should not be worked on for more than 1 minute. Long workouts using Myofascial rolls may damage the muscle and connective tissue.
For a professional assessment and to find out how MFR techniques can help you personally, I recommend that you consult with one of our specialists here at Wellness for the Body.