Why the wait? Fascial release

As traditional bodywork therapists we move the body tissues, manipulate and mobilise muscles, fascia and connective tissue. We flush through, lengthen, re-align and encourage the blood supply, amongst other things. So why during myofascial techniques are we suddenly being taught to wait and feel for a release?

Well basically, fascia is made up of 3 main substances:-

·        Elastin.

·        Collagen.

·        Ground substance (a viscous gel like substance).

In order to truly release the fascia we must firstly create a safe environment to enable the patient to “let go”. Then we need to wait for the fasia to release. First the elastin releases and then the collagen (the denser, more fibrous component) releases, this takes a minimum of 3 minutes and often much longer.

Once we have fully released the collagenous, realignment of fibres takes place and more fluid flow is available. This fluid flow is essential to health – we are after all, mostly water! The adult human body is up to 65% water (in infants up to 75%). Fluid is the carrier of life.

When fascia is injured it becomes bound down and de-hydrated. More collagenous fibres are laid down along the lines of tension imposed upon it. It is therefore essential to wait and allow the collagenous to fully release, especially when working injured tissues (when the wait time will be even longer). It is this wait time that make the techniques so invaluable and different from more traditional forms of bodywork.

Fascia is also considered to be a fluid loving system, yet when injured and bound down it become de-hydrated, our aim is therefore to restore it to a healthy fluid loving state. This will reduce pain, restrictions and inflammation.

Palpation:

Palpation during Myofascial Release (MFR) is totally different to the more tradition bodywork techniques. During traditional massage therapies the therapist moves their hands over the still tissues of the client’s body. Whereas during myofascial release techniques our hands remain completely still and relaxed, contouring the body, palpating and waiting for the release to happen beneath our hands. If we are quiet and still in body and mind, we are able to feel beneath our hands and eventually beyond our hands. It is this fine-tuned palpation that makes a great MFR therapist. Feeling beneath our hands we are able to palpate when a restriction is fully released, becoming aware of the changes in the tissues as well as the increased fluid flow, thus indicating a time to move on. Palpating beyond our hands, we are able to feel for further restrictions within the body, which may need releasing.

Coming next: How is fascia injured?