In 2013 I stumbled upon a groupon for Myofascial Release Therapy. After checking with a friend who also has fibromyalgia I found out that the guy offering the groupon was legit and that she’d been seeing him for a few months and had found myofascial release therapy really helpful for her fibromyalgia symptoms.
I bought the groupon and never looked back. The myofascial release therapist’s name is Tim and I can now say that he’s a good friend.
A couple of years ago he moved across the country and I’ve yet to find another myofascial release therapist. However, occasionally I do see a massage therapist that does a little myofascial release therapy, but it’s just not the same thing.
What is Myofascial Release Therapy?
Myofascial Release Therapy (MFR) is a type of hands-on therapy where the therapist works by seeking out areas of restriction and tightness in the fascia and then applies pressure for an extended period of time until that restriction releases.
While myofascial release therapy is similar to massage therapy, you’re probably more likely to equate it to physical therapy as it’s a very specific type of manipulation. Those who go in expecting a massage will likely leave disappointed.
Related: Dealing with myofascial pain
What Does Myofascial Release Therapy Feel Like?
While often thought of as a form of massage, Myofascial release does not feel like any massage you’ve had before. Rather it feels more like a form of a physical therapy, which it is. The therapist will begin by discussing your history.
He may have you draw on a figure showing where you are currently experiencing pain and at what level. This will give him a good idea of where he needs to focus his attention.
He will then begin applying pressure to specific areas. When he feels resistance it may seem as if the pressure increases. The reality is that he’s just continuing to apply the same pressure, which may intensify the pain as the toxins in the fascia are released allowing it to relax.
When done properly you will actually feel the fascia release and relax. As one area releases, he will follow that release to the next point of tightness and work on that area until it releases.
Myofascial release therapy can be extremely painful at times.
Related: Dealing with Myofascial pain
Does Myofascial Release Therapy Work?
Multiple studies have shown that myofascial release therapy to be effective in treating fibromyalgia pain.
In another study, participants received weekly myofascial release therapy for 20 weeks Patients continued to report decreased pain and improved sleep six months after they’d discontinued treatment.
Myofascial release therapy has also been found to be effective for treatment of TMJ disorder, headaches, neck injuries, and other chronic pain issues.
Where Can you get myofascial release therapy?
Some physical therapists use myofascial release therapy in their treatment. Similarly, some massage therapists incorporate myofascial release into their massage. You’ll get best results by finding a massage therapist who has chosen to focus specifically on myofascial release therapy.
Generally, myofascial release therapy won’t be covered by your insurance. In some cases it may be covered as a type of physical therapy or under your health Savings Account (HSA). If you can afford it and can find a Myofascial Release therapist in your area, I definitely suggest giving it a try.
A few tips for successful myofascial release therapy
- Dress for physical therapy. Appropriate dress would be shorts and a tank top, to provide the therapist access to areas without restriction.
- Listen to your body and pat attention to any added pain you have during or after your session.
- Openly discuss any increases in pain so that the therapist can make appropriate adjustments.
- Note increases in pain in the days following your session and discuss it at the next sesssion.
I only experienced pain following a session a couple of times during the three years I regularly had myofascial release therapy.
One was following my first session and by discussing it with him during the next session he was able to adjust what he did to avoid that.
He later told me that he found he had to work on me differently than most clients, “sneaking up on” the tight areas rather than going at them directly as he normally would.
- Drink lots of water after your sessions. Myofascial release therapy pushes toxins out of the fascia. To avoid increased pain you need to flush those toxins by drinking extra water.
It’s not abnormal to find that your fibromyalgia or other symptoms increase in the day or so following your session. You may experience flu-like or flare type symptoms. Water will help decrease these symptoms.
- Log how your body responds to the treatment so that you can report it to your therapist on your next visit. He may need to adjust his treatment accordingly.
Myofascial release therapy is an alternative therapy that I found extremely helpful for relieving Fibromyalgia-related pain. Have you tried myofascial release therapy yet? If so, did you find it helpful for your fibromyalgia symptoms?
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- 4 Strategies for Easing Myofascial Pain