Myofascial Release (MFR) Therapy

What is Myofascial Release MFR Therapy?

Myofascial release (MFR) therapy is a treatment technique that addresses various conditions and symptoms dealing with muscular shortness, tightness, or stiffness. This treatment is extremely helpful for people who have lost their muscular functions or flexibility after suffering from an injury. People with ongoing back issues, shoulder pain, hip alignment issues, or pain in areas of the body that contain soft tissue can also benefit from this therapy.

The MFR therapy technique was developed by physical therapist John F. Barnes. Unlike other physiotherapy techniques, this therapy focuses on treating the fascia. Fascia is connective tissue. Matrixes of this tissue surround each muscle cell, fibril, and fiber in our bodies. These three-dimensional matrixes consist of elastin fibers, gelatinous fluids, and collagen fibers.

Hence, fascia and myofascial connective tissues are extremely sensitive. During MFR therapy, physical therapists gently apply pressure into these tissue connections to restore flexibility and eliminate pain. The slow and rhythmic application of pressure enables the damaged fascia to elongate, rehydrate, and ultimately reorganize. MFR therapy also opens up avenues for the gelatinous fluid in our tissues to move freely.

Physical therapists help patients break through their physical restrictions using this therapy. This therapy unwinds the myofascial connective tissues, facilitating the smoother circulation of blood. All of these factors enable the damaged tissues to heal. Recipients of this therapy report feeling more aware and more energetic.

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Types of Myofascial Release MFR

MFR therapy is a hands-on treatment process. Physiotherapists use no oils or creams to conduct this therapy. The gentle tension between the patient’s skin and the physiotherapist’s hands is what improves the movement and function of the fascia. The typical gliding effects of standard physiotherapy can’t achieve this direct connection with fascial tissues. This massage therapy technique can be broken down into two categories:

  • Indirect release – An extremely gentle method where the physiotherapist applies as little pressure as possible. The aim is to encourage the fascia to gradually ‘untangle’ itself until the patient can move about freely.
  • Direct release – This therapy technique involves the application of high amounts of pressure on affected areas. It’s also known as “deep tissue MFR therapy.” Physiotherapists often use added weights to release the fascial.

Risks of Myofascial Release MFR

This massage therapy is virtually risk-free. Be it for reducing back pain or regaining mobility – MFR therapy can help just about anyone without causing any long-term ill-effects. There aren’t many specific scientific studies about myofascial release. That’s because therapy styles vary from practitioner to practitioner. Plus, this therapy isn’t risky. So, many patients with chronic back or neck pain issues who want to avoid surgical solutions are advised to receive this non-invasive therapy.

Benefits of Myofascial Release MFR

This therapy is one of the most hands-on approaches to alleviating pain and discomfort in various regions of the body. If you have an experienced physiotherapist who knows how to knead and stretch the muscles and fascia to ease out the knots, you can receive benefits like:

  • Long-term pain relief in neck, shoulders, arms, head, jaw, lower back, hips, quads, calves, and feet.
  • Drastic improvements in range of motion.
  • Damaged tissues recover faster.
  • Immediate impact on muscle tension.
  • Reduce soreness in injured muscles.
  • The body feels more relaxed overall as MFR therapy also improves our circulation.
  • Healthier circulation leads to less stress.

Myofascial Release MFR therapy isn’t like gentle massages. These processes are intense as physiotherapists apply a lot of pressure to the patient’s tightest or sorest areas. It allows them to relax and feel more flexible in the long run. But, during and immediately after the therapy, patients can feel sore.

What Conditions is Myofascial Release MFR Used For? 

This therapy is primarily beneficial for patients with myofascial pain syndrome. Such patients experience myofascial pain. This pain has two key sources -

  • Pain arises when the skeletal muscles and connective tissues get tied down by tight fascia. MFR therapy can loosen the wound-up fascial tissues and help the skeletal muscles and connective tissues regain their positions.
  • The other’s when the myofascial tissue itself gets damaged, creating ‘trigger points’ in muscle fibers. These trigger points are essentially contractions in muscle fibers that impede healthy blood flow. MFR therapy loosens these trigger points and promotes healthy blood circulation.
  • People with chronic headaches or neck ache issues can also find relief from MFR therapy. Gentle massages around tightened muscles around the neck eliminate such pains.
  • People with venous insufficiency are also prime candidates for MFR therapy.

Who Shouldn’t Get Myofascial Release MFR Therapy?

Most people who suffer from these aforementioned issues and are trying to avoid surgery can benefit from this therapy technique. However, this technique isn’t ideal for people:

  • Who have open injuries or wounds (e.g., fractures or broken bones)
  • People with naturally fragile bones
  • People diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis
  • Patients who consume blood-thinning medications
  • People with underlying tumors
  • Patients with extensive metabolic conditions

How to Prepare for Myofascial Release MFR Therapy? 

Here are some simple steps patients can take to prepare for this type of therapy:

  • Wear something elastic and loose (t-shirts and running shorts)
  • Visit the physiotherapist wearing no lotions, oils, or colognes.
  • Read the important information in the form given by your physiotherapist to become familiar with the process.
  • Drink plenty of water before/after the session.

Recovery: What Happens After Myofascial Release MFR Therapy? 

The desirable goal of this therapy is to loosen the fascia and make the patient more flexible. For the first two or three weeks, patients may experience headaches, nausea, and tiredness. That’s because various toxins are released from the body during the fascial healing process. Thankfully, these effects are temporary.

Top physiotherapists target specific areas of the patient’s fascial system. By doing so, they prepare the patients for more aggressive forms of re-enabling flexibility and movement. Patients can not only return to normal movements, but their muscles can also achieve greater functions after they consistently receive myofascial therapy.

Related Therapies

Here are some physical therapies that are slightly similar to MFR: Acupuncture, Neuromuscular Therapy, and Low-Energy Laser Therapy.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How many sessions will I need?
Treatment plans and results vary by individual. A physiotherapist will customize a schedule that’s suited for your body.
2. Are these treatments painful?
Physiotherapists acknowledge their patients’ complaints. If a patient feels pain or excessive soreness, the therapist will adjust the treatment.
3. Can symptoms worsen after MFR sessions?
No. Some patients may experience “Healing Responses,” which are common feelings of soreness after built-up tissue restrictions start to soften.

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