Posted on 04-17-2017
Myofascial release sounds like a pretty intimidating form of chiropractic care, but it really just means the relaxing of contracted muscles through pressure. Myofascial release, aside from helping muscles to relax, is used to improve blood and lymphatic circulation, and instigates stretching and repair reflexes in the muscles.
When muscles are under tension or pressure (exercise, using them in a new way for extended periods of time, etc.), they develop small tears. These tears are replaced and repaired when muscle fibers form new protein strands and fuse muscle fibers together in a process called myofibrils. As a consequence of this process the muscles contract and tighten resulting in restricted blood flow and often pain.
It is also theorized that this process can cause muscle knots. When specific muscles are regularly under pressure due to physical or mental stress, they can become “stuck” in a contracted phase. This causes pressure and extended blood constriction, causing them to tense or spasm and involuntary bunch up, resulting in a muscle knot.
Myofascial release encourages muscles to relax, increasing blood flow and range of motion, speeding healing and muscle growth, and smoothing out knots when they occur.
How Does It Work?
Myofascial release, just as the name suggests, refers to the release or relaxation of muscles in the myofascial or rebuilding process. The process is similar to massage but is more pressure oriented. Typically, a gentle and consistent pressure is applied to a trouble area allowing for the muscle to gradually relax. Some of the most common forms of home myofascial release are done using a tennis ball or a foam roller for leg and back relief.
While it certainly is possible to perform myofascial release on your own, particularly as a pre or post workout stretching routine, when it comes to larger issues, seeing a chiropractor is often the better option. It can be a bit difficult to determine without the help of a back doctor when a tight spot has been released, in fact often an area will become more tender and sensitive after. Generally there is a reduced feeling of pressure and tightness and while there is often pain and irritation associated with the release, it is “good pain”. Without experience in the process it is also easy to spend too much time or apply too much pressure to an area, overworking the injured muscle. A trained chiropractor can easily locate the affected muscle or surrounding muscles that are causing pain and attentively reduce the tension and contraction through gentle and deliberate pressure.
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