Myofascial release is a type of manual therapy that reduces musculoskeletal and joint pain by improving the mobility of the fascia tissue that surrounds the muscles. It is often performed by physical therapists, massage therapists, and osteopaths to treat pain in the joints, and muscles.
Myofascial release can be uncomfortable at times, however it should never be performed in a manner that is truly painful. Although some people may bruise slightly after myofascial release, it should never be performed to the point that it causes deep bruising. If you have a bleeding disorder or take blood thinners you should avoid deep myofascial release.
Self mobilization of the myofascia is possible with the use of tools. Differently shaped and textured tools are widely available.
Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Stainless steel Gua Sha : This stainless steel device is perfectly shaped for myfascia release of the hand, forearm, iliotibial band, and calf.
: 2. 4 Piece Gua Sha Set: This diverse set allows for variation in use. The duck foot shape is perfect for myofascia release of the face and scalp which is beneficial in people who have chronic headaches and neck pain. The others can be use on the arm, shoulder, leg, knee, and feet.
3. Long flat Graston Device: This device is perfect for myofascial release of the Iliotibial band, quadriceps, hamstring and calf. It is meant to be use with two hands on each end, and gentle scraped along larger surfaces.
4. Cupping Set: Cupping is an eastern medicine practice that uses suction through small cups to provide myofascial release. Traditional practices used fire to create suction, however this modern set is easy to use and uses a hand held pump device to create and control various levels of suction. To provide myofascial release using cups you can place the cup on the restricted area, use the pump to create suction, and gently move the cup up and down the entire length of the muscle. You can also place the cup, create the suction, and move the body part involved. For example, if the area of restriction is the quadriceps, place the cup and gently flex and extend the knee 10-20 times to induce a myofascial release.
5. Knot Hero Massager: The knot hero is a motorized massage device that comes with 5 different massage heads to allow for release of tender points and myofascia throughout the body. It can be used individually, or with the help of a partner for hard to reach areas. This device simulates massage techniques to stimulate blood flow and encourage the muscles to relax.
Amanda Olson is a certified pelvic floor physical therapist, writer, and consultant.