- What to wear?
For Myofascial Release treatment, it is most effective for you to wear athletic shorts and for women to also wear a sports bra or other top that allows access to their back, shoulders, and abdomen. The athletic shorts should be looser, like running shorts, instead of skin tight, like bicycling shorts. This clothing makes it easier to assess the structure of your body which helps indicate tension patterns and areas of dysfunction. It also makes it easier to transition between treatment positions during the session. These items can be brought with you so that you can change into them before treatment. Also, please remember to not use any kind of moisturizers/lotions that leave a slippery/oily film on the skin. Myofascial Release needs direct and solid contact with the skin for many of the techniques, and slippery lotion can make it very difficult to work effectively.
- How long does it take to get better/out of pain?
People always want to know how long it will take for them to get out of pain and back to normal activity, and they want a definitive answer as to how many treatment sessions it will take to get there. Unfortunately, we aren’t cars where you can just swap out a broken part or rebuild an engine; activities that can be concretely estimated for time to completion. Our bodies are comprised of many complicated and interrelated systems that all affect our health and functionality. Fairly simple issues, like recently occurring tendonitis, can often be treated and improved quickly, sometimes even in a single session. Other issues that have been developing for years will often be deeply inset into your body, both in physical scarring and restrictions and in subconscious holding patterns that will have to change to create a lasting improvement. Generally speaking, if you have a long history of pain, tension, surgeries, car accidents, broken bones, headaches, TMJ, and/or other issues then the process of healing will likely take more work to complete. Your rate of progress will be largely determined by how much work you put into creating real change. Part of this work is done during treatment sessions with a skilled therapist. However, taking time to learn how to self-treat, and then taking time to regularly treat yourself will significantly help speed up the treatment process. This will also empower you to be better able to take care of yourself when new issues and pains come up in the future.
- How often do I need to get treated?
People want to know what kind of schedule they should set up for treatment: once a week, once every two weeks, once a month? Mostly this ties back to our experience with other forms of massage work like deep tissue therapy. It does make you feel better, but the results only tend to last so long, and so the work needs to be repeated to keep you feeling better. You get into a mindset of setting up a schedule for maintaining a reduction of symptoms. However, with Myofascial Release you are actually creating real change within the body. The goal is to create enough change to actually get you out of pain and back to a happy and active life. The more work that you put into the healing process will reward you with more change that will get you to your goal faster. This can mean scheduling multiple sessions a week for 2-3 weeks to create enough progress to get you significantly feeling better. Taking the time to learn how to self-treat, and taking the time to self-treat regularly will help significantly to speed up your progress. It will help you to both save money and to empower you to be better able to care for yourself in the future. You only continue treatment until you have met your goals.
Myofascial Release does not use forceful pressures and does not require the recovery time period often associated with deep-tissue therapy. In very intensive cases, treatment can be as much as 3 hours of treatment a day, 5 days a week, for one or more weeks. While most people will not need that depth of treatment, it will help you to reach your goals to schedule longer sessions often enough to maintain a forward progress. Adding in self-treatment only helps to speed things along. Frequently, people find that they make more progress with a 2 hour Myofascial Release session than with two 1 hour sessions spaced out.
- How is Myofascial Release different from deep-tissue therapy?
Deep-tissue therapy generally involves pressing fairly strongly into tight tissues and moving along areas of tension to get them to soften up. I consider this to be a therapeutic form of meat tenderization. It also falls into a category of soft tissue work more generally called mobilization. The stronger pressures and movements helps to break up some scar tissue fibers and helps to temporarily make tight tissues more mobile (i.e. mobilize them). This can be done rather quickly over larger areas of the body. It is very useful for getting tight tissues ready for athletic activities and making tight areas of the body feel better for a while. However, the mobilizing effects often only last for a few hours to a few days. As long as a person keeps moving, the mobilized areas stay mobile. Once the person stops moving as much: sitting for a while, sleeping, etc.., the tissues re-solidify and the perceived tension and lack of mobility returns. Also, if too much pressure is used or an area is worked on for too long, you can actually bruise the tissues which will make them unnecessarily sore and require a recovery time period after the treatment.
Myofascial Release does not use strong pressures to force change on the tissues of the body. It uses just enough pressure to engage and challenge tight and restricted tissues and then holds that pressure until the tissues physiologically change, re-hydrating and reorganizing to release the tension from the system. It takes about 2 minutes of sustained pressure to start the physiological process of the release of a fascial restriction. Most techniques are held for 5 minutes or longer to create a deeper level of restructuring of the tissues. This actually creates real changes in the systems of the body that can lead to lasting improvements. The pressures used during Myofascial Release are never enough to force change, and therefore can not cause injury to the tissues. The only changes that can happen are for tissues to become looser, softer, and more balanced. If a technique is performed on an area that does not actually need treatment, the most that happens is that that tissue is given a good stretch.