The Vasomotor Response

The Vasomotor response: It is common when applying myofascial release techniques to witness a vasomotor response beneath as well as beyond the contact of your hands.

What is a Vasomotor response? There is a region in the medulla of the brain called the vasomotor centre, this regulates blood pressure by controlling the diameter of the blood vessels, in response to stimuli from receptors. The vasomotor system acts on vascular smooth muscle to control blood vessel diameter. The major neural control is through the sympathetic nervous system.

What does Vasomotor response look like? Here you will see a vasomotor response over the shoulder and arm. My patient’s neck, shoulder, arm and back responded like this when I applied a very gentle cross hand release over the neck and shoulder. The tissues in this area were very dense (this is just about visible), there was clearly a lot of holding in the tissues both on a physical as well as emotional level. The patient had had pain and restriction in her neck and shoulders for many years; as I waited with a cross hand release for the tissues to respond she remembered a whiplash injury that she had sustained many years ago. As the tissues responded and softened, some the emotion was processed. It was a subtle yet profound shift, there is clearly more work to be done but an effective start was made. It is important to note it is not the pressure or imprint of my hand that has made these marks.


What is the significance of a Vasomotor response? Not only does a Vasomotor response indicate that the techniques used are effective, but it also indicates areas beyond where your hands are – where more techniques are needed. In this case I only applied cross hand release to my patients shoulder and neck in a supine position – yet her back and posterior neck were affected, showing not only do the techniques work beyond your hands but giving a clear indication of where more techniques are required in order to free up further restrictions. As trained therapists we learn to feel beyond our hands, but there are other helpful indicators such as the vasomotor response to indicate to us where further techniques are required.

The result of this brief treatment was that the patient’s pain was reduced and ROM was increased on rotation of her neck, overall she felt more comfortable in her body. As always this is deeply rewarding work, excellent results are achieved, with sustained benefit to the client.