Myofascial Release is a bodywork modality that addresses tight or painful areas in a slow, patient manner, giving them all the time they need to release under the steady invitation coming from the touch of the therapist. It is broad in scope, based in the knowledge that any tight area is linked inextricably with other areas, and that the most effective path to greater ease involves working all the related places.
For instance, in a session devoted to lower back pain, the therapist will pay attention to the ribs, making sure they have the springiness inherent in their design, not the stiff “cage” experience most of us live with. Only when the ribs are free to move with the breath and are lifted off the pelvis can lower back pain ease. The legs will also be worked, since, so often, lower back pain results when there is not enough support from the legs. When the joints of the ankles are free and moving, and when the tissues of the feet and legs can allow a happy relationship of the legs with the pelvis, only then can the lower back release, secure in the support it is getting from below.
One technique that is very common in a Myofascial Release treatment is slowly moving those body parts that are being worked, allowing the body to learn a different way of moving that does not tighten and shorten the muscles. This allows the body a new freedom from working so hard in simple, everyday movements, so that it can begin to change ways of moving that it adopted from bad habits or as compensation for past injuries.
Practitioners of Myofascial Release are always looking at the entire person, at what might be linked to and causing the pain. They know that we are not a collection of separate parts, but rather an entire being always connected to all other parts of ourselves. If only one part is treated or worked on, all those other connections will still be there causing problems, and pain will tend to recur, if it even goes away at all. Because of this focus on painful or restricted areas and the connected parts, a Myofascial Release treatment often does not include the entire body like a relaxation massage does, concentrating instead on the areas that will most help resolve the trouble spots.
by Jill Gerber, LMT, Certified Advanced Rolfer and Rolfing® Movement Integration Practitioner