WHAT IS MYOFASCIAL RELEASE?
Myofascial Release focuses on the soft-tissues of our musculoskeletal system, namely muscles (myo) and fascia. The myofascial network weaves through and deeply connects all systems of the body (not just our bones and muscles) and holds everything in place. When this system is healthy, it distributes strain evenly so that you don’t end up excessively loading one part of the body and causing injury. Things like overuse, underuse, or misuse can throw this fascial support structure out of balance which in turn can cause a range of problems throughout the whole body: pain, injury, decreased range of motion, compression of nerves, blood vessels, or muscular tissues, all of which can impact your performance.
By manipulating and releasing our fascial network and the muscles it supports, we can create profound changes in the body that go far beyond preventing injury and promoting faster recovery, although it is VERY good at doing those things as well!
THE BENEFITS OF SELF-MYOFASCIAL RELEASE:
MFR offers so many benefits to everyone, not just athletes! Here’s a list of the top 5 things that you can gain from a regular MFR practice. If you have a body, I promise that there’s something on this list for you!
- Improved Range of Motion: MFR helps to increase the ability of our soft tissues to slide and glide past each other, and in some cases can even help to break up scar tissue and other thickening of the fascia. It can also help to increase the direct neurological control of your joints. All of that adds up to greater range of motion.
- Increased Proprioception: Proprioception “is the sense of the relative position of one's own parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement”, according to Wikipedia. I would add that it in addition to being the awareness of one’s body in relationship to other parts of the body it is also awareness of the relationship of the body to its environment. It’s also a really great word to pull out at your next cocktail party (I recommend waiting until your second or third drink for maximum effect). The vast majority of the nerves that are responsible for proprioception live in the fascia. MFR helps to stimulate those nerves, creating a lasting increase in their function and sensitivity.
- Improved Muscular Response: Ultimately this is a combo platter of items 1 and 2 but it gets its own line because I think it’s super cool. As we increase range of motion (by increasing the slide and glide of our tissues and by increase the neurological control of those tissues) and increase our proprioception (through stimulation of proprioceptive nerves in the fascia) we’ll start to notice that our muscles can respond faster and with greater force to the demands we place on them, no matter if that demand is a pulse at the barre, a box jump, or catching a kid before they hit their head.
- Decreased Autonomic Nervous System Response: So that’s a super fancy way of saying that MFR can help decrease the intensity of your stress response (but again, the benefits of adding the phrase Autonomic Nervous System to your cocktail party banter can not be stressed enough). There are special types of nerves that hook right into your “fight or flight” response and that respond especially well to deep, rhythmic pressure. It’s these types of nerves that kick in when we start to breath deeply to calm ourselves and that make your dog’s thunder jacket work. MFR is like a deep calming breath for your muscles.
- Decreased Pain: There are a lot of ways in which a regular MFR practice can decrease your pain levels--increased range of motion, increased proprioception and a decreased stress response all add up to a general decrease in pain as well as an increased sense of wellness overall.
So join me on March 18th from 2-4pm for Head to Heels: A Myofascial Release Workshop and let’s get rolling!
Hi - I'm Helen! You might know me from early morning Barre on Tuesday’s here at EVOFIT. You can also find me teaching Barre and Myofascial Release at the Seattle Athletic Club, SAC Northgate, Ballard Health Club, Flow Fitness Fremont, and Be Yoga Burien. In addition to all of that, I recently started as the Co-Director of the Shift program at The Grinning Yogi. I came to Myofascial Release (MFR), the way a majority of people do, through injury. As a pre-professional dancer in middle and high-school and then as a college student majoring in dance, I had my fair share of chronic and acute soft tissue injuries: achilles tendonitis, pulled hamstring ligament, vertebral subluxation, quad strains, a range of SI joint problems, psoas spasms...you get the idea. So various forms of personal soft-tissue manipulation were always part of my self-care “toolkit” so to speak. I would foam-roll my quads and hamstrings between classes and rehearsals, I would massage my feet with wooden rollers while I was studying in the library, and I never left home without a lacrosse ball tucked into my bag--just in case. It wasn’t until I started teaching that I realized how much potential MFR had to help everyone, even (or perhaps especially) those without injury.