Myofascial Release is a different form of therapy than most any other type of soft tissue therapy that I have encountered and practiced. Below are some ways in which you can make sure to get the most of this therapy.
Wear Comfortable Clothing
Men can wear running shorts and women can wear running shorts and a tank top, sports bra, or other top that keeps them comfortably covered but allows the therapist access to the abdomen, shoulders, and back. This makes it much easier to do a visual assessment of the imbalances in your body that indicate the patterns of tension and fascial restriction. It also is much easier during treatment than having to constantly move and carefully keep you modestly covered by a sheet.
Try To Focus Your Attention On Your Body
You are paying for treatment to improve your health and feel better. With Myofascial Release your focus during the session will play a major role in how much change occurs. For the most part, deep tissue therapy and other forms of soft tissue mobilization are techniques done to you and you just have to show up and be willing to suffer through the therapy. Whereas, Myofascial Release is done with you. Most of the older restrictions and tension patterns in people’s bodies will have subconscious guarding responses associated with them. Not only do you have to initiate a physiological change in the tissues, but also any subconscious guarding patterns have to be relaxed enough to allow the tissues to thoroughly reorganize. The more that you can focus your awareness in the part of the body being treated then the more that you will allow your subconscious guarding to be relaxed and the more change that will occur.
Understand The Difference Between Acute Pain & Therapeutic Pain
One of the most common things that people notice with massage work is how there are many areas in their bodies that usually don’t bother them and yet when they are pressed on they feel tight and sore. Over time, areas of our bodies get injured and stressed in ways that cause them to tighten and become dysfunctional. Dysfunctional tissues will express tenderness and pain. However, in our culture we are usually taught to push through or ignore pain, and when that doesn’t work, then we medicate the pain into submission. We learn to stop feeling all but the most nagging or painful issues. The other areas get ignored, and as we become used to this overall pattern of tension it becomes our bodily norm. When these ignored areas get pressed on, their usual state of tension is increased and suddenly we start to feel the dysfunction in them again as tenderness and pain. Myofascial Release is never forceful. It only adds just enough pressure to the system to initiate change in dysfunctional tissues. Healthy tissues are only mildly stretched. When unhealthy tissues are pressurized and start to change you will feel a wide variety of sensations, often various forms of tenderness or pain. Our usual response to any pain is to stop what we are doing so that we don’t get injured further. With this work, therapeutic pain is a result of us feeling what is going on in our bodies. If you try to avoid or suppress these feelings then your subconscious guarding response will kick in and change will be limited. The more that you can maintain your awareness in the areas being treated, then the more change that you will help to take place. As the tissues soften and become healthier, the tenderness that you feel in them will decrease and often completely go away.
Be Careful of Avoidance Patterns (and random chatting)
When you start to work into long held tension patterns and tissue restrictions, most people will start to feel uncomfortable sensations and even emotions related to the injuries that were the source of these issues. With simple issues like repetitive stress injuries this will mainly be tenderness. However, if you were in a car accident years ago that caused neck and back injury then you might feel similar pain as you did in the days following the original incident. You might even feel emotions like anger and fear start to come up. Most often, we have spent a lot of time and energy trying to suppress these sensations and we have strong guarding patterns that are in place to help keep them out of our conscious awareness. When we start to feel these uncomfortable sensations we frequently will automatically find a way to avoid them. Sometimes we will allow our guarding response to tighten down and hold back these sensations. Other times our mind will wander to somewhere more comfortable than what is going on in our bodies. Some people will even start to go to sleep in brief spurts whenever old tension patterns start to shift and open. One of the most common avoidance patterns is unnecessary talking. Now let me first say that it is very important for you to communicate with your therapist during treatment. It is often very useful to share what your are feeling as the restrictions in your body change, and most importantly, always feel free to say “Ease up” or “Halt” if you need the therapist to lighten the intensity or to stop completely if what you are feeling gets too intense. However, if you find that you often want to start long conversations, then you are likely unintentionally trying to avoid feeling what is going on in your body. Some people will start talking about random things happening in their lives, and others will start trying to intellectualize and analyze their pain and issues with the therapist. Both of these will keep you from feeling deeply into your body to allow your subconscious guarding to drop enough to create real change. Thinking about creating change in your body is about as useful as thinking about walking somewhere. You can think about walking somewhere as much as you want, but you will not have moved an inch. It is not enough to think about creating change in your body; you have to do the work of engaging in the uncomfortable parts and allowing real change to happen.
Learn How To Treat Yourself
One of the most valuable and self-empowering things that you can do is to learn how to treat yourself with Myofascial Release. There are a wide variety of inexpensive tools that you can use to press into tight and tender tissues and help them to become healthier. Your therapist can explain a few self-treatment options at the end of your treatment sessions, but it is often most helpful for you to set up time for a one-on-one self treatment training. Here the therapist can explain how to work yourself effectively, guide you on how to work you your more important issues, and correct you immediately when they see ways that you could be working on yourself more easily and effectively. It takes most people a couple of weeks to learn how to work on themselves effectively. The more time that you put into this process, the more effective you will become, and the faster your will reach your goals. Self-treatment is especially important if you have limited availability to work directly with a skilled therapist. Also, as you get better at working on yourself, you will find that you are increasingly able to make faster and deeper progress when working with a therapist.Share