Myofascial release treatments – Why and how they work.

We have 7 different layers of connective tissue throughout the body called fascia. I call it our internal ocean – without it we would fall apart. Under a microscope, it resembles a tubing that has elastin fibres and collagen running through it.  Fascia acts as our shock absorber – when muscles become tight, the fascia hardens. Myofascial release treatments are done slowly due to the fact that if the fascia is treated quickly and with too much pressure it can spring back like an elastic band. The fascia needs to be melted down slowly so the muscles fibres will stretch with the surrounding fascia. Skin, the outer layers of our organs, tendons, ligaments, scar tissue and even bones are made up of harden fascia. Myofascial treatments leave you feeling very relaxed due to the relaxant signals that are sent to the brain when the fascia tension is released. Fascia glues us together in a pattern, this pattern can be referred to as ‘myofascial lines’. When this pattern is followed, myofascial treatment can unlock an injury, allowing the body to function in a balanced and unrestricted way.

Bras Bras Bras

Goodbye to conventional bras and hello to an unrestricted rib cage! Tight fitted bras and underwire are like a tourniquet to the rib cage. Restricting the movement of the ribs under the strap of the bra thickens, almost fusing, thoracic T4, T5 and T6 ribs, which are located at the centre of your back, together. Most of us are at computers, picking up children, holding our phones or even carrying handbags with the restriction of the bra strap. For example, women who are normally right handed on the computer have their shoulders forward causing the left shoulder to be tucked in and stagnant for hours. The use of a bra then sets the shoulders as well as the rib cage in this twisted position. The rib cage and shoulder girdles are made to move more fluidly, however, with a bra restricting the flow of the rib cage it causes a thickness between the ribs in order to support the tightness of the bra and underwire. Women can also have a curvature of the spine directly under the bra strap. This occurs by the thickening of the ribs creating tension, pulling the ribs and back muscles forward causing the curvature. This creates stress and tightness in the neck, shoulders and the back and front of the rib cage. 

So, please ladies, when looking for a bra, try a knitted soft support bra. I know as a therapist I’ve had client with a larger breast size thinking there’s no comfortable knitted bra but there is! Bras such as the Genie bra, Seamless magic wireless lift bra, Bamboo bra, and front closure lace posture bra – just to name a few. I know we all have beautiful lingerie but leave wearing that special bra for a special occasion.

Breast implants/reduction correctional placement before surgery

When the rib cage, shoulders and pectoral muscles are unbalanced the placement of the implants or reduction can be adversely effected.   The only wayDoctor prepares for breast enhancement plastic surgery a surgeon can judge is by a visual assessment of how to place and position the implants or reduce the breast tissue on the chest. The top of the torso needs to be balanced at the time of surgery.

The markings on and around the breast and surrounding skin is usually done with the patient sitting upwards. However, if the muscles are not aligned then the breasts may be uneven after surgery.

Having myofascial release on the shoulders, rib cage and chest will allow the alignment of both sides to be the same, giving a better outcome for the patient.

Lymphatic Drainage

The lymphatic system is a completely separate system to any other in the body. We carry between 5L to 8L of lymph fluid at any one time. The lymphatic system filters excess protein, bacteria and fluid from the muscles and veins. It relies on muscle contraction to move fluid around the body. Lymphatic drainage can be done before and after an operation. Fluid pools causing swelling because the nodes have been compromised and the muscles are not contracting efficiently enough to empty the nodes. We have hundreds of nodes through out our bodies. The nodes take up waste to filter and cleanse then return back to the blood stream as plasma via ducts that are just above the collarbone. When doing lymphatic drainage there is a certain pattern you need to follow to empty the nodes. The massage is gentle and slow. The reason for this is if you press the nodes too hard the fluid will empty back into the body. Also the slow speed is to create a pumping action so all the nodes are contracting at once. There are also organs that are part of the system including the thymus, spleen, tonsils and appendix. These organs are called lymphoid and they contain immune cells. The right side of the lymphatic system only takes up 1/3 the right arm and torso while the left takes up 2/3 of the lower limbs legs, arm and torso. After the massage you should feel light and less restricted throughout the body.

Lymphatic Drainage for Mastitis

Lymphatic drainage is also beneficial for mastitis – a painful condition for some new mothers.

Lymphatic Drainage for Blocked Sinuses

Blocked and infected sinuses can also benefit from a lymphatic drainage of the face. The structure of the sinus bone is very similar to a sponge. When doing a lymphatic drainage of the face you cause a suction that allows the tiny crevices to unblock, allowing the congestion to empty.

Fascia – how we are “glued” together

Fascia is a band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches, stabilises, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs. It is classified by layer, as superficial fascia, deep fascia, and visceral or parietal fascia, or by its function and anatomical location.

Like ligaments and tendons, fascia is made up of fibrous connective tissue containing closely packed bundles of collagen fibers oriented in a wavy pattern parallel to the direction of pull. Fascia is consequently flexible and able to resist great unidirectional tension forces until the wavy pattern of fibers has been straightened out by the pulling force.

Fasciae are similar to ligaments and tendons as they have collagen as their major component. They differ in their location and function: ligaments join one bone to another bone, tendons join muscle to bone, and fasciae surround muscles and other structures.

Myofascial release focuses on deep fascia which is a layer of dense fibrous connective tissue that surrounds individual muscles, and divides groups of muscles into fascial compartments. It has a high density of elastin fibre that determines its extensibility or resilience. Deep fascia is richly supplied with sensory receptors. Examples of deep fascia are fascia lata, fascia cruris, brachial fascia, plantar fascia, thoracolumbar fascia and Buck’s fascia.

Fascia becomes important clinically when it loses stiffness, becomes too stiff or has decreased shearing ability. When inflammatory fasciitis or trauma causes fibrosis and adhesions, fascial tissue fails to differentiate the adjacent structures effectively. This can happen after surgery where the fascia has been incised and healing includes a scar that traverses the surrounding structures.

Pilates, Yoga and the Fascial Connective Tissue

Pilates strengthens and stretches the same muscular lines in which we are myofascialy glued together. Pilates and yoga aim to balance up the body to allow it to work more efficiently with strength and flexibility.

The connective tissue that binds us together is a network of mesh junctions that allows us to have all ranges of movement. When the connective tissue has become tight, not allowing the muscle to complete its full range, the body compensates in other areas, creating strain and tightness on the compensating muscles, which causes an imbalance in the body. Throughout the body we have up to seven layers of fascial connective tissue, including the bones, which are made up of hardened connective tissue. Without this we would virtually fall apart.

Myofacial massage releases the tight muscles so Pilates or Yoga can strengthen the weak allowing the body to become balanced.

Knee Pain

There are a few reasons why people experience knee pain. The knee cap lives in the tendon of the quad (front leg muscle). When the quad muscles are tight the knee cap is pulled up and is displaced from the groove between the bones that it lives in. The ITB band that runs down the outside of the upper leg wraps around the knee to keep it secure but when it become tight it pulls the knee cap to the side. The quad, ITB and the hip muscles need to be released using myofascial techniques to allow the knee cap to move back into its correct position.

Flat feet can contribute to discomfort in the knees and hips. It is important to have your arches supported if you have flat feet. The structure of the foot and ankle is very important to the alignment of the whole of the leg and hips.

Pregnancy and massage

Being pregnant puts a lot of weight on the front of your body, making the front line of muscles tighten while the back line of muscles try to pull you back, in order to put your body on a level plane. The forward posture that is caused by carrying a heavy weight is supported by the opposing muscles, glutes and lower back. As the front of the body becomes heavy, because of bubby, the shoulders tend to fall forward putting strain on the neck and shoulders. Myofascial release works on the soft tissues allowing the fascial lines to be released and the body to straighten up which takes stress off the glutes, lower back and front of the body .. Having imbalances in the body can cause sciatic, lower back pain, pain along the groin line, sore legs shoulders and neck issues. Lymphatic drainage is beneficial in the late trimester for swollen legs and feet. Lymphatic drainage can assist with the recovery of mastitis by draining the lymph nodes on and around the breast area.

Maggie is a life-saver / life-saver. She gives the most intuitive massages that allow your body to be comfortable and work properly. I can't recommend her highly enough - especially when pre and post natal.

Holly Garber

Headaches, Migraine, Neck, & Shoulder Pain

Neck and shoulder pain has become the norm because of our working environment. The new technology of computers, mobile phones, iPads, office desks and phones is the reason for our bad posture leading to debilitating pain in the shoulders, neck and arms and the main reason for RSI
in the hands and wrists.

Myofascial release of the chest muscles and the muscles of the arm allows the shoulders to drop back on the rib cage in their correct position. The side of the body also tightens up when adopting a forward posture and needs releasing, in order to open up muscles between the ribs. Releasing the shoulder and the side of the neck is important to allow the shoulders to drop into place. Myofascial release to the back muscles has been keeping us on a level plane by supporting the forward posture which allows the body to become balanced. The final step of myofascial massage is to release the neck and the skull. Tension and tightness in the neck and the shoulders can cause cluster headaches that can become migraines, or lead to neck, back, shoulder, arm and nerve pain.