It’s Important to Correct Your Dysfunction Before Strengthening It!

  • Doing regular gym exercises like weightlifting, cardio, and other techniques are not ways of releasing the fascia. Using exercise bands doesn’t stretch your body but strengthens it and can be harmful to the restrictions that some people already have.
  • Many often wonder how exercise works with myofascial stretching and self treatment. Before you add strength training and exercises, it’s best to regain symmetry, balance, mobility, and flexibility and then add in strengthening exercises.
  • Once you’re aligned and the fascia has been released and put back into it’s natural state, we will create a therapeutic exercise program focusing on myofascial stretching, designed to look at you as a whole including the activities you do and your function in whatever environment you live and work in. You will be responsible for your recovery through the custom made program. The program might include therapeutic exercise and activities, gait training, body awareness, and other things.

Unwinding

  • Unwinding, similar to a cat stretching when they first get up, is very natural and something that feels very good for our bodies.
  • Unwinding might seem awkward or forced at first especially if we aren’t used to letting our body move on it’s own. Also, if you’re not in tune with your body, you might need some help from a therapist at first. Once you start to tune in to your body, you’ll start to move naturally, and unwinding will turn into something that is easy and pleasurable.
  • Unwind before starting a self-treatment session to find out the areas of your body that you need to focus on. Be conscious of any feelings, emotions, or sensations that surface and work through them appropriately.

“You Have to Feel to Heal”

  • A fascial release feels different to different people. Some describe it as stretching bubble gum or taffe. Sometimes people don’t feel anything and other times it’s very abrupt. Other times, there’s initial pain that diminishes as the fascia releases. Other feelings and sensations might include tingling or searing, cold or warmth, tearing or even the sense of air or water going through the area.
  •  If you feel uncomfortable during a stretch, keep breathing and slowly soften into the stretch. If you try to brace yourself towards the feeling, the area might feel painful after and you won’t achieve a full release.
  • After the stretching and releasing, many will feel less tight and like pressure has been relieved. Don’t have expectations or get worried when you feel something you weren’t expecting to, it happens differently for everyone.
  • You might feel pain and discomfort in the area you are treating, and even though we often like to recoil at pain, remember that this is the way your body is “talking” to you. If you ignore it, the body will “talk” louder until it gets our attention.
  • If you are doing the stretches properly, you won’t injure yourself, though it may feel intense.  It’s important to pay attention to feelings, sensations, etc. to alleviate any kind of discomfort.  If what you are feeling changes or you experience softening, than your body is saying you are acting appropriately and what you are feeling is pain from the restriction.
  • You might feel emotions and other symptoms begin to surface during self-treatment but as long as you’re correctly doing the myofascial stretches, emotions and other symptoms are completely normal and are often called a “healing crisis.” This is essentially when restrictions are released and pain is lessened.
  • The secondary symptoms often subside in a couple days, but if they don’t that means the restriction wasn’t fully released: you’ll need more treatment. It’s important to drink lots of water before and after treatment to pull out toxins and to stay hydrated.

The Freeze Response

  • Most people known about the flight or fight human response when there is a threat close by, real or perceived. Although it happens mostly to animals, it also happens to people when there is a threat that they cannot escape. For example during surgery, even while under anesthesia a part of the person’s subconscious is aware of what is going on.
  • Another example would be being attacked or harmed. After these kinds of events a person begins to shiver and they probably feel extremely cold as adrenaline begins to release. It’s all natural and a part of the healthy human body’s function. If not allowed to occur, the energy is stuck inside the body, with the fascia becoming tighter and forming restrictions.
  •  It is very important for people to be tuned into their emotions and senses during myofascial release as some sensations and feelings may resurface. The “freeze” response can finally release from the body, which allows the restriction and symptoms to lessen.
  • The majority of people are disconnected from their bodies, which happens for a myriad of reasons. It happens when someone pulls their sense of awareness away to cope with an injury or traumatic situation. They may remain that way later on when they still don’t allow themselves to truly experience what happened.
  • Because of our disconnections, we have to be listening to the small ways our body talks to us and tells us it’s needs each day. When ignored, they “speak” louder, usually as pain, which the body uses to make sure we receive a message. This pain can inhibit our daily functions and activities.

Facts on Fascia

  • Myofascial Release occurs when light pressure is put on the points of tension, pushing the damaged tissue gently. It can be used on very small, localized areas as well over larger areas such as the torso, arms, and legs. It differs from massage in that MFR can be very localized and is very gentle and tailored to each patient’s body and needs. Someone practicing MFR listens to the cues of the patient’s body and works at pace in line with the body’s needs. Massage is usually much more forceful and often pushes the body’s pain limits to achieve results.
  • MFR is all about relaxation and comfort so the practitioner can work effectively and access every layer of fascia while improving the patient’s health posture, flexibility, circulation, alleviating their pain and any muscle tension.
  • Trauma is one of the main instigators of fascia and traumatic events such as surgery, stress, accidents, injuries, etc. can stress the fascia, which produces tensile pressure of close to 2000 pounds per square inch, producing a kind of pain that doesn’t show up on X-Rays or MRI tests. These kinds of traumatic events restrict the fibers of the fascia, which in turn prevents fluid from getting through the fascial system. These restrictions and points of stress affect the entire body and can also affect areas that are seemingly unrelated or are far in distance from the point of restriction. For this reason, the fascial system is often called a “straight jacket,” because nothing can change it, not stretching, heat, or exercise. Until the myofascial release treatment is given, the pain will come back.
  • The fascial system is very unique and is often misrepresented as a cover or buffer rather than as a whole system. Researchers have discovered that it’s an extremely important part of our bodies.
  • Not only does it literally hold us together and give our bodies support but it acts like a buffer when any kind of force is put on the body, keeping us unharmed. It’s also a vital part of our immune system.
  • Fascia is the connective tissue that covers all the body’s living cells from your head to your toes. If you only had fascia, there would be a complete outline of every muscle, bone and organ inside the body. It does not start and end like bones and tendons but continues on like a web, covering each and every organ, bone, muscle, etc. which in turn means that it effects every single thing in the body. Some of the fascia is thicker and has more density and there are even some spots where it joins up with the skeleton.
  • To most, it seems that the skeleton holds the body up and keeps every part in it’s correct location but it’s actually the fascia that does that.
  • John F. Barnes gives an analogy to help others understand it…it’s like one of those old canvas tents, like at the circus, which the center pole that holds it up and ropes that anchor it down. In the similar fashion, if the ropes are different lengths, the center pole won’t hold properly. The asymmetry makes the tent shift and not be taut in areas. This shows how the fascial systems’s balance is what aligns the skeleton and everything else.

Will An MFR Treatment Hurt Me?

Restricted fascia exerts pressures of up to 2,000 pounds per square inch; one cannot force a system that will not be forced. Occasionally, during the course of treatment, you may experience physical/emotional pain or a hot rippy feeling as the tissue releases. Therapeutic pain and injurious pain are very different.  Your therapist is trained to help you soften in to those very stuck areas for maximum benefit and deep release of holding and bracing patterns that are imbedded in the tissue.

Mind Body Connection

  • Fascial restrictions are usually a result of someone bracing against some kind of pain, but this can also be an unconscious bracing from anything producing stress and emotions.
  • For example, someone may notice pain and tightness in their neck and shoulders if they have a great deal of responsibility. Someone with poor posture may develop back pain if they were raised in a volatile household and literally tried to diminish their body so they wouldn’t be seen.
  • The same person may be under the disbelief that if they literally and metaphorically stand up for themselves, they will be judged or deemed part of the problem. Later on, this person might feel like being in an upright posture brings pain and a sense of shame or guilt.

Frequency of Treatment

  • You can do myofascial stretching anytime but be sure to pick a time you will remember. The quality of your stretching is much more important than the quantity. It’s better to do just a few stretches and hold them longer, which will result in releases, rather than to rush through many stretches, which will only give you a partial release.
  • You should be stretching for about 45-60 minutes daily but if that isn’t manageable than a few times a week is good too. It seems like a big commitment but you must remember that it takes time to release the restrictions that cause our aches and pains. We may have been living them for years and they won’t go away overnight.

Hydration

  • Because of the fascia’s gel substance that is largely composed of water, fascial restriction is often due to dehydration. Our bodies are made of 60-70% water, so staying hydrated ensures the fascia has its natural composition and can function properly.
  • When the fascia is dehydrated, it is altered to the point that it cannot absorb water. Therefore, just drinking water after the fascia is dehydrated is futile. In order to rehydrate the fascia, it needs to be released, thereby gaining back the ability to be rehydrated. Once released, the fascia can rehydrate itself by absorbing water from surrounding tissue, then continue its rehydration once water is being regularly consumed again.
  • The key periods of time to drink water are before receiving myofascial release treatment, and right afterward. Once you have received fascial release, the interstitial spaces within the tissues have opened up, making the absorption process optimal for your body to retain the necessary hydration it needs to maintain the new fascial length.

Women's Health: Should I be doing a Kegel program?

  • While many women who have trouble controlling their pelvic floor are told to Kegel, it is important to remember that muscle tissue tightness and restriction can impact its strength. In other words, the muscle may not be working to ideally because of restrictions and not because it is weak. Kegeling, therefore, can increase dysfunction by exacerbating tightness.
  • Therefore, a person with pelvic floor weakness is often referred to a Myofascial Release treatment to alleviate pelvic imbalances and restriction, then follow up the treatment with a Kegel program.
  • Women who are recovering from episiotomies or other birthing injuries often have scars that affect their pelvic floor tissues and organs in a negative way. They often also contribute to pain. Effects like scarring and adhesion from abdominal or pelvic surgeries or inflammations can also restrict muscles or contribute to pelvic dysfunction and pain.

Foam Rolling: Harmful or Helpful?

  • Foam rolling pushes the skin and fascial layers together, which makes the discomfort in a patient worse. MFR instead moves the skin to separate it from the superficial fascia which is a more effective treatment.
  • After MFR gains traction on the skin, the approach then presses in the direction that the skin moves easily and holds it there for anywhere from a minute and a half to five minutes. The body then has an opportunity to soften and the fascia “melts” and releases the holding restriction.
  • By holding the fascia for several minutes, the body secretes interleukin 8 (IL-8), which is a natural protein that diminishes inflammation.
  • Massages are usually ineffective because they are too fast and they do not give the necessary time to allow for the release of the fascia that comes with MFR. Furthermore, using just the fingertip to apply pressure only addresses the “trigger point,” which is only a symptom of the real problem.

How Do I Get Fascial Restrictions?

  • Through (1) trauma, (2) repetitive motion or (3) poor postures over time (sitting all day), (4) surgery, and scar tissue – restrictions can form in the fascial system.
  • These restrictions can exert force of up to 2,000 pounds per square inch on the body’s sensitive tissues and organs. This force can literally crush any of the vital structures that are near it.
  • Since the fascial system runs throughout your entire body, these restrictions can cause pain anywhere in the body and compromise any system. By system I mean, vascular, neurologic, muscular, circulatory, digestive, etc. Fascial restrictions can cause digestive problems, fertility problems, circulation problems, neurological problems, etc. These restrictions can become tighter over time, literally making you feel like you are in a straight jacket and sending symptoms throughout your body.
  • When the cause of these symptoms, myofascial restrictions, are left untreated, they often progress to the point of some type of chronic pain syndrome. In some patients, blood vessels and nerve roots can become caught which creates entrapment syndromes and ischemic like conditions. Excessive pressure such as this can explain why some symptoms develop. Conventional treatment methods do not affect the myofascial system and at best produce only temporary symptomatic changes.
  • MFR is a structural approach that treats the cause of the problems not just the symptoms and this is what produces long lasting results.

Integrative Dry Needling

Integrative Dry Needling

Dry needling is a new treatment for muscle, nerve, and connective tissue pain that has been proven effective for a wide variety of patients. It involves placing a small needle into the tissue that is tender with the intent to normalize the physiology of the area and regain homeostasis, which will improve the function of the musculoskeletal system resulting in symptom reduction. The needling process provides both physical (tissue stretching) and biochemical (lesions) stimuli.

Integrative Dry Needling is not acupuncture (traditional Chinese medicine); it is based on neuro-anatomy and modern scientific study of the musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems. A very fine filament needle is inserted through the skin and into the deeper tissues that are considered trigger points to your pain. Dry needling works by causing a micro lesion within the pathological tissue thus breaking up shortened tissues, inhibiting a reflex arc from the nervous system to the tissue, normalizing the inflammatory response, and centrally mediating the pain. This mechanical and neuromuscular effect provides an environment that enhances the body’s ability to heal which ultimately reduces pain.

Conditions that can benefit from Dry Needling  include, but are not limited to:

Neck Pain     Back Pain

Shoulder Pain    Tennis Elbow

Sciatica        Leg Pain

Fibromyalgia        Disc Pathology

Hypermobility   Buttock Pain

       Whiplash          Calf Tightness

Golfer’s Elbow   Headaches

Jaw Pain          Foot Pain