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MFR or Myofascial Release

Posted by GLenn X on 9/27/01 at 18:16 (061754)

I've occasionally read snippets about MFR here on heelspurs, but today I stumbled on this article which, at least for me, cleanly describes the reasoning behind the technique, and the nature of actual treatment in this form of therapy.

http://momentummedia.com/articles/tc/tc1002/myorelease

The article is nicely balanced with contrary opinions, so I'm not sure yet what to make of the concept. More importantly, there are some 'tissue' learning or memory ideas that may aid in the understanding of PF, regardless of the value of the therapy itself. Here's that particular quote.

'Unwinding,' explains Barnes, 'is when the body starts to move spontaneously to the position it was in before it was injured or traumatized. When it hits those positions, the holding patterns that were in the subconscious come forward to the conscious level, which is nature's way of letting the body learn and let go.'

Here's the above as part of a couple of pertinent excerpts.

'When an injury occurs, the layers of the fascia become hard and glued together, as if they had been covered with hairspray,' explains Jill Cohen, CMT, an instructor and practitioner of MFR, in Santa Cruz, Calif. 'With myofascial release, we can take the glue-like substance-these adhesions-and expand and stretch it so that the fascia glides as it once did.'

'The fascia isn't separate from the muscle,' adds John Barnes, PT, President and Owner of the Myofascial Institute and one of the primary originators of MFR. 'It interpenetrates the muscle down to the cellular level. And when the fascia, which is very powerful tissue, tightens down, it's like an internal body-stocking that has shrunk. When that occurs, the muscle cannot elongate properly, and a shortened muscle can't accelerate properly, no matter how much you work out.

More excerpt -- How it Works
One of the reasons MFR has had trouble catching on in mainstream sportsmedicine is that it requires an intuitive, subjective approach. 'Myofascial release,' explains Carol Manheim, author of The Myofascial Release Manual, 'is a highly interactive stretching technique that requires feedback from the patient's body to determine the direction, force, and duration of the stretch and to facilitate maximum relaxation of the tight or restricted tissues.'

By 'listening' to the body's physical reactions and to the patient's verbal feedback, the therapist determines in which order fascia and muscles will be stretched, how much force should be used, and how long the stretches should be held. The stretches are not released until the therapist begins to elicit a process referred to as 'unwinding.'

'Unwinding,' explains Barnes, 'is when the body starts to move spontaneously to the position it was in before it was injured or traumatized. When it hits those positions, the holding patterns that were in the subconscious come forward to the conscious level, which is nature's way of letting the body learn and let go.'

Of course, athletic trainers teach athletes stretches all the time. But experts in MFR say their stretches differ in significant ways. 'Unlike traditional stretching techniques,' says Barnes, 'with myofascial release you feel for the restriction and then, instead of sliding through it, you wait there. After you get through the first barrier, you get to the second barrier, which is what has been missed in traditional therapy. And you have to wait there a minimum of 90 to 120 seconds, pressing into the restriction with a gentle, sustained pressure without sliding. And when you feel the release, it feels like taffy stretching, and then you don't slide, but instead, you just take the slack out of the system and move to the next barrier. The fascial system is like concentric layers of an onion-there's barrier after barrier, and you have to be patient, take your time, and go through each barrier.'

In effect, over the course of several sessions, the stretches that comprise MFR are believed to initiate a process of neuromuscular reeducation of the fascial fibers. 'What happens is that the person's body is used to being stuck and restricted in that position,' explains Michael Schwahn, CMT, Administrative Director of, and massage therapist at, Midwest Myofascial Therapy Center, in Minnetonka, Minn. 'During the first treatment, we will release the area, but then over the next few days, the tissue will tighten up and go back into that restricted position, because that's how it's used to being. On the second visit, we do the releases again, and this time, when the tissue tightens back up, it's not going to be as tight as it was the first time. This process occurs after each session, and each session builds on the last one to make the area gradually become less tight.'

Re: MFR or Myofascial Release

Carmel M on 9/27/01 at 21:22 (061763)

Hi Glenn, glad you're back with us. That is a very interesting article.

After reading it I went to my book, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain Syndrome, written by Drs. Devin Starlanyl & Mary Ellen Copeland. The fascia can cause so much pain in our bodies. This is from a book written by Sharon Butler (1995): 'Try to imagine the fascia running in three-dimensional planes throughout the body, connecting everything to everything else. Now, when the fascia is strained, it has the truly unique characteristic of being able to chemically change in order to protect the body. When it goes through this change, the collagen fibers that make up the fascia bunch togheter, forming a sort of thickened or denser bunch of fascia. The body creates this so that the overworked muscles can have some support and protection.'

This is from Dr. Starlanyl's book: 'The fascial changes that Butler describes are the cause of the lumps and taut bands called trigger points. Fascia changed in this way can entrap nerves, constrict blood vessels, and tighten around lymph vessels. Trigger points are extremely sore points that can occur as ropy bands throughtout the body. They can aslo be felt as painful lumps of hardened fascia. Trigger points can and do refer pain to other parts of the body.'

Some trigger points in the peroneals (longus, brivis and tertius) can refer pain down into the heel. And I'm sure there are a bunch more having to do with the feet, but only a few were referrenced in the book.

I looked into all of this about a year into my PF because I was searching for answers. I don't have myofascial pain syndrome (MPS), instead I have fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). Trigger points are not part of FMS so I don't think my heel pain is of fascial origin. But I wouldn't swear to that!

If anyone is interested in more info on myofascial pain and fibromyalgia, Dr. Starlanyl has a web site. The address is http://www.sover.net/~devstar/

Take care.
Carmel

Re: MFR or Myofascial Release

Glenn X on 9/29/01 at 10:36 (061860)

Carmel: Thanks! That adds more to my understanding. Particularly about the muscle-protection role.

I'm still not sure where to go with the thinking though. Not sure you can 'release' the plantar fascia. In fact, I've understood the plantar fascia to be a 'different' sort of fascia, which I've interpreted to mean it doesn't encase a muscle, but is a 'ligament' made up of fascia material. Sometimes I feel like, 'I don't know what it is, and I can't hardly spell it, but I got one.'

Anybody know for sure what the plantar fascia is?

Re: MFR or Myofascial Release

Suzanne D on 9/29/01 at 13:34 (061865)

very interesting...I must admit a lot of it is 'over my head', but I am trying to read more, knowing that the more I understand, the better I can help myself.

Thank you for taking the time to type this message and send the link. I read the article after being interested in what you wrote.

:-)

Re: MFR or Myofascial Release

Carmel M on 9/29/01 at 13:52 (061869)

Hi Glenn,
I'm with you...I don't think the fascia in the foot is made up of the same fascia that is in the muscles of the body. I like your definition of it!!

The book I have doesn't deal with the fascia of the foot, so I guess we'll have to keep looking and asking questions to find out the make-up of the plantar fascia.

Take care.
Carmel

Re: MFR or Myofascial Release

Carmel M on 9/29/01 at 13:56 (061870)

Hi Suzanne,
I must admit, a lot of the info in the book is way over my head too. I found myself reading and re-reading it so that I could post an intelligent message to Glenn. Much of it has nothing to do with foot pain, but it is one avenue of reference and worth checking into (I think).

I'm glad you read the article...not many people know I have fibromyalgia...just another one of the complicated syndromes which is sometimes are hard to explain to people.

How have the Birkenstocks been working for you?

Take care.
Carmel

Re: MFR or Myofascial Release

Suzanne D on 9/29/01 at 14:09 (061873)

Thanks, Carmel! My Arizonas felt wonderful until I walked too much in them about 3 weeks ago; then the top of one foot hurt a lot right where the strap comes across my foot.

Now with cool weather I am wearing Bostons most of the time and socks with my Arizonas in the house. I am still stiff and in some pain, but if I try any other shoe, I realize just how much I should appreciate the Birks! The pain immediately is worse. All in all, they are helping; I am confident of that.

I wish I had found this site before I bought the Reebok DMX pair which is just sitting in the closet! I now know that was not a wise choice for me at all. But I was desperate, and like many of us, have made some expensive wrong choices in this matter of feet...

I wish for you improvement in your condition! :-)

Re: MFR or Myofascial Release

Carmel M on 9/27/01 at 21:22 (061763)

Hi Glenn, glad you're back with us. That is a very interesting article.

After reading it I went to my book, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain Syndrome, written by Drs. Devin Starlanyl & Mary Ellen Copeland. The fascia can cause so much pain in our bodies. This is from a book written by Sharon Butler (1995): 'Try to imagine the fascia running in three-dimensional planes throughout the body, connecting everything to everything else. Now, when the fascia is strained, it has the truly unique characteristic of being able to chemically change in order to protect the body. When it goes through this change, the collagen fibers that make up the fascia bunch togheter, forming a sort of thickened or denser bunch of fascia. The body creates this so that the overworked muscles can have some support and protection.'

This is from Dr. Starlanyl's book: 'The fascial changes that Butler describes are the cause of the lumps and taut bands called trigger points. Fascia changed in this way can entrap nerves, constrict blood vessels, and tighten around lymph vessels. Trigger points are extremely sore points that can occur as ropy bands throughtout the body. They can aslo be felt as painful lumps of hardened fascia. Trigger points can and do refer pain to other parts of the body.'

Some trigger points in the peroneals (longus, brivis and tertius) can refer pain down into the heel. And I'm sure there are a bunch more having to do with the feet, but only a few were referrenced in the book.

I looked into all of this about a year into my PF because I was searching for answers. I don't have myofascial pain syndrome (MPS), instead I have fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). Trigger points are not part of FMS so I don't think my heel pain is of fascial origin. But I wouldn't swear to that!

If anyone is interested in more info on myofascial pain and fibromyalgia, Dr. Starlanyl has a web site. The address is http://www.sover.net/~devstar/

Take care.
Carmel

Re: MFR or Myofascial Release

Glenn X on 9/29/01 at 10:36 (061860)

Carmel: Thanks! That adds more to my understanding. Particularly about the muscle-protection role.

I'm still not sure where to go with the thinking though. Not sure you can 'release' the plantar fascia. In fact, I've understood the plantar fascia to be a 'different' sort of fascia, which I've interpreted to mean it doesn't encase a muscle, but is a 'ligament' made up of fascia material. Sometimes I feel like, 'I don't know what it is, and I can't hardly spell it, but I got one.'

Anybody know for sure what the plantar fascia is?

Re: MFR or Myofascial Release

Suzanne D on 9/29/01 at 13:34 (061865)

very interesting...I must admit a lot of it is 'over my head', but I am trying to read more, knowing that the more I understand, the better I can help myself.

Thank you for taking the time to type this message and send the link. I read the article after being interested in what you wrote.

:-)

Re: MFR or Myofascial Release

Carmel M on 9/29/01 at 13:52 (061869)

Hi Glenn,
I'm with you...I don't think the fascia in the foot is made up of the same fascia that is in the muscles of the body. I like your definition of it!!

The book I have doesn't deal with the fascia of the foot, so I guess we'll have to keep looking and asking questions to find out the make-up of the plantar fascia.

Take care.
Carmel

Re: MFR or Myofascial Release

Carmel M on 9/29/01 at 13:56 (061870)

Hi Suzanne,
I must admit, a lot of the info in the book is way over my head too. I found myself reading and re-reading it so that I could post an intelligent message to Glenn. Much of it has nothing to do with foot pain, but it is one avenue of reference and worth checking into (I think).

I'm glad you read the article...not many people know I have fibromyalgia...just another one of the complicated syndromes which is sometimes are hard to explain to people.

How have the Birkenstocks been working for you?

Take care.
Carmel

Re: MFR or Myofascial Release

Suzanne D on 9/29/01 at 14:09 (061873)

Thanks, Carmel! My Arizonas felt wonderful until I walked too much in them about 3 weeks ago; then the top of one foot hurt a lot right where the strap comes across my foot.

Now with cool weather I am wearing Bostons most of the time and socks with my Arizonas in the house. I am still stiff and in some pain, but if I try any other shoe, I realize just how much I should appreciate the Birks! The pain immediately is worse. All in all, they are helping; I am confident of that.

I wish I had found this site before I bought the Reebok DMX pair which is just sitting in the closet! I now know that was not a wise choice for me at all. But I was desperate, and like many of us, have made some expensive wrong choices in this matter of feet...

I wish for you improvement in your condition! :-)