We all know that the medical profession has a habit of using very long or strange words that the other 99.9% of the population cannot understand. Of course, it is not just the medical profession: there are others which do much the same thing. The computer software industry, for one, uses terminology which means nothing to the average man or woman on the street. So it is with the term myofascial release. What does that mean? This needs a little explanation. The fascia in this connection has nothing to do with the dashboard of your car. We all have fascia. It is the body’s connective tissue. It is a system of fibrous connective tissue found everywhere in the body. If you think of an orange, when you peel off the outer layer there is a layer underneath that is white. That is the equivalent of your fascia and it is just underneath the skin. It also surrounds every organ and muscle in your body and affords a layer of protection against outside damage or trauma. Fascia also supports the musculoskeletal system and enables you to do things like stand up from a sitting position, run, jump, and a lot more. Fascia lets your organs and muscles slide smoothly against each other, and blood, nerves and muscles are surrounded by it and penetrated by it. When it is all in perfect working order you don’t have any problems with it. The problems arise when the fascia becomes tense. It can constrict blood flow, have an effect on range of motion and flexibility, strangle nerve impulses, and do a whole lot of other things that you don’t like. If the fascia becomes distorted it can twist the body into misalignment and cause things such as frozen shoulder: if you have ever suffered from that you will know how painful it can be. Arteries and veins also run through the fascia and if it is tight and restrictive it can cause poor blood flow which means that less nutrients and oxygen are getting to your cells. If the fascia is tight it can actually cut off nerve signals. It is directly connected to the unconscious nervous system that controls various functions such as breathing! Causing Problems Elsewhere In The Body Tightened fascia can also cause problems somewhere else in the body. For instance, you might have a pain in your knee which is actually caused by tension of the fascia in your hip. This problem in your hip is called a trigger point because it triggers pain somewhere else. Without going into too much detail, fascia can also affect the quality and vitality of your skin. If the fascia depletes blood flow it reduces the nutrients that can get to your skin. Even cellulite is caused by restrictive fascia. The better news is that there are things that you can do to maintain your fascia in good health. Posture is important. If you sit or slouch, or walk badly, this will destabilise your muscles and cause damage to your fascia. You need to ensure that you have a sufficient intake of fluids because there is a fluid in the fascia that delivers nutrients to the cells and removes waste and toxins. When you have sufficient fluids, this can flow freely. You also need to have a proper balance of nutrition: eating fast foods will do your fascia no good at all. So what about myofascial release? This is a form of massage therapy which is designed to release tightened points in the fascia and get everything moving again. So for example, the pain in your knee that is actually being caused by a fascial problem in your hip requires trigger point therapy which will be applied to your hip area which is causing the pain. The aim is to release the tightness which will result in the muscle relaxing and thus release the pain in your knee area. Pressure is put on the body tissues in a specific direction until slowly building up to a point of resistance – what you might describe as a point of no return. The pressure is maintained for up to 90 seconds and this allows the fascia to relax and the muscle unit can stretch back to its normal position.