Have you booked a Myofascial Release Therapy session?
Not sure what to expect after your session?
Let us explain.
Myofascial release is a hands-on therapy used to treat muscle and joint dysfunction, the accompanying chronic pain, and movement restriction. This so-called “release” is accomplished by relaxing contracted muscles – and more importantly, restoring mobility and pliability to connective tissues, increasing circulation, and increasing blood flow and lymphatic drainage.
Often this is a hugely relaxing and enjoyable treatment that is non-invasive with minimal pain or discomfort. I would be remiss to not let you know, though, that other times there can be rather intense discomfort as ribs, joints, and other things begin to move in ways they haven’t been able to for too long. It would be inaccurate to say there is no pain or discomfort, as sometimes there is.
However, we do not force anything and we do not injure. As the body begins to allow something to move, it can hurt. But it is oh so good and even more needed. The difference you can feel afterwards is often astonishing. And, unlike with forceful approaches (medicine, surgery, aggressive manipulation, etc.) there is no risk of adverse effects.
The treatment sessions that specially trained therapists perform are called “Myofascial Release Therapy” sessions. They focus on using a soft tissue technique that stretches, hydrates, and relaxes the muscles and joints and the surrounding myofascial tissue.
If you haven’t heard of fascia before – as many people haven’t. Fascia is the connective tissue surrounding our body like a delicate cobweb, from the top of your skull to the tip of your big toe. It’s like a full-body suit of pliable and protective tissue.
This connective tissue envelops and penetrates throughout everything inside our bodies – from the muscles, bones, and organs to veins, arteries, and eyeballs. By applying gentle pressure and heat from our hands, we encourage the myofascial tissue to relax and lengthen. This hands-on technique allows muscles and other tissues to soften and return to a more functional position.
The treatment is helpful for many different conditions in the mind and body. But it’s often regarded as being the most effective in improving mobility and joint and muscle flexibility. This improvement in range of motion enhances healing and reduces joint and muscular pain.
If you have chronic pain, old injuries, or problems with your posture, you’ll likely benefit from myofascial release therapy. Here are the most common conditions we treat with myofascial release:
- Frozen Shoulder
- Back pain
- Pelvic Pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Spinal disc issues
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
In this post, we look at what to expect after the Myofascial release.
How Does Myofascial Release Work?
Myofascial Release Therapy works by reducing pain and easing tightness and tension. At the start of a session, your practitioner will examine your body to look for areas of restricted, stiffened tissue and movement. These are the unrecognized source of breakdowns and pains in your body.
Many people mistakenly believe that “myofascial release” is just relaxing trigger points with a massage. But we work on a much deeper scope of what is happening in the body than trigger points. Truthfully, trigger points are superficial causes of pain and mislead people into thinking their problem has been resolved when that trigger point is released. Only they’re disappointed when the trigger point and pain keep coming back.
In contrast to loosening muscles and treating trigger points, releasing fascia can take time because it only responds to slow and gentle manipulations. Chronic and stubborn tightness often needs a bit more persuasion and patience. However, it is essential not to get discouraged by the lack of sudden improvement. Tension usually reduces after a few treatments, and improvement in mobility gradually, sometimes dramatically, increases.
How will you feel after Myofascial Release?
Following Myofascial release, you may experience some of the following symptoms:
- Sore Muscles: Aches and pains are common for around 24 hours after your treatment as the body flushes out the toxins that release. Some people feel a similar sensation in their muscles as the one felt after a heavy workout at the gym. Just take it easy and remember that it’s only temporary – it’s likely to pass in 24 hours or less. We recommend you drink lots of water to keep your body hydrated. This extra water also helps prevent post-session headaches.
- Unusual Sensations: As MFR therapy sessions relax and unwind chronically tight muscles and connective tissue. You might feel some unique sensations in your body following a session. These can include muscle twitches and tremors, pulsating, or heat as blood flows back into chronically starved regions. Again, this is normal, and all symptoms should pass within 24-48 hours. If any of these unusual sensations continue longer than one or two days, consult with your practitioner.
What about the emotional impact of Myofascial release?
- Emotions: In the same way as your dreams are your body letting go of stored-up emotions, you may also feel extra emotional in the days following your treatment as these emotions release from your body. This process is all quite normal. We encourage you to allow them to flow through you freely and remember that this is a sign that your body is healing. This healing time after a session is a great time to indulge in self-care rituals. For example, try an Epsom Salt bath with relaxing essential oils to soothe your soul as well as your muscles.
- Vivid Dreams: Some people report having unusually vivid dreams following a session. When your body is in repair mode, you may have a more extended period of REM or “dream sleep.” It may also be your body releasing stored up emotions and processing old memories.
As we mentioned regarding emotions and unusual dreams, because we harbor feelings in our fascia, releasing the fascia can bring up painful emotions from old trauma(s). This release of emotions temporarily occurs as the body releases and starts to go through the healing process. It’s important to remember that this is a temporary thing and nothing to worry about. This increase in emotion is not a sign that the treatment has worsened your symptoms, and the treatment hasn’t made things worse. However, this increase in emotions is a vital sign that you are moving through old traumas and healing them. This process occurs when the body repairs dysfunctional tissues from old injuries, accidents, and illnesses.
Aside from the emotional impact after myofascial release, you may also have what we refer to as a “healing crisis” after myofascial release. For example, you may feel like you have cold or flu-like symptoms or what feels like an intensification of your original symptoms.
A healing crisis, in some cases, can be more intense than the actual disease or illness. Just remember, it’s all temporary and a sign that you’re on the right path to renewed health.
Other symptoms that accompany a healing crisis may include:
- Feeling spaced out
- Joint pain
- Intense emotions
- Depression/ anxiety
- Muscle cramps
- Sinus Congestion
What Causes A Healing Crisis?
Well, researchers suggest that when you raise your awareness of issues in your body or mind – such as old childhood injuries and past traumas, you “feel” the pain. So, with this increased awareness from Myofascial Release Therapy, you may begin to experience symptoms that allow you to bring attention to things that you have “tuned out” from and haven’t “felt.”
These could be physical or emotional. It all depends on the individual.
One other reason why a healing crisis may occur is that we’re working on a much deeper level than traditional massage or physical therapy. The tissues become more sensitive as we get deeper into chronic restrictions caused by old injuries, physical and emotional trauma, and chronic stress. This deeper release process is like peeling like layers – and deeper, more profound emotions and painful memories may surface.
So, we believe this is one of the reasons why a healing crisis may occur, and symptoms might appear to intensify directly after myofascial release therapy. However, they typically only last a couple of days after your session. In rare cases, up to a week or so. It’s hard not to feel like you’ve stepped backward when this happens, but it’s important to remember that true healing isn’t a linear process. Like life, there are ups and downs along the way.
Everyone seeks out Myofascial Release Therapy for different reasons, so it’s hard to predict what you can personally expect after Myofascial Release accurately. However, we constantly tailor our sessions to your individual needs – and talk you through and support you every step of the way.
What we would say to everyone, though, is to drink lots of water after your session – and throughout your daily life. Dehydrated fascia is one of the main exacerbators of physical dysfunction and restriction. Warm baths and showers, too, are a great way to relax and recover from an MFR Therapy session to soothe away any discomfort and keep the fascia relaxed and flexible.
Do you want to find out more about Myofascial Release?
We offer all new patients the opportunity to talk to a Myofascial Release Therapy expert at a free consultation. You can choose whether you prefer to do this over the telephone or visit us at our clinic in Salt Lake City. But it’s a great way to find out whether Myofascial Release Therapy is right for you before committing to treatment.
Of course, there is absolutely no obligation to book any further sessions after the call either. We just want to help you find the right treatment for your specific circumstances. Get in touch with us though our Myofascial Release contact page.