F a s c i a W o r k s,   I n c.
Myofascial Release

An Introduction for the Client

Myofascial release is generally an extremely mild and gentle form of stretching that has a profound effect upon the body tissues. Because it is somewhat different from more well-known, conventional therapies, clients often ask questions such as, "What is myofascial release and how does it work?" 

Fascia is a part of the connective tissue system to which relatively little attention has been given in the past. Fascia is composed of two types of fibers: collagenous fibers, which are very tough with very little elasticity, and elastic fibers, which are stretchable.  From the functional point of view, the body fascia may be regarded as a continuous laminated sheet of connective tissue that extends without interruption from the top of the head to the tips of the toes. It surrounds and permeates every other tissue and organ of the body, including nerves, vessels, muscle and bone. Fascia is more dense in some areas than others. Dense fascia is easily recognizable and looks like the tough white membrane that we often find surrounding butchered meat.

Injury, inflammation, disease, surgery and excess strain can cause the fascia to scar and harden. This can cause tension in not only adjacent, pain-sensitive structures but in other areas of the body as well. This is because of the complete integration of fascia with all the other systems. Some clients have extremely unusual pain symptoms that appear to be unrelated to the original or primary complaint. These seemingly unexplainable symptoms can now often be understood with a better understanding of the fascial system.

During myofascial release treatments, you may be treated in areas that you may not think are related to your condition. The trained facilitator has a thorough understanding of the fascial system and will release the fascia in areas that have a strong drag on your area of injury. This is a whole body approach to treatment. A good example is the chronic low back pain client; although the low back is the primary area of injury, the client may also have significant discomfort in the neck. This is due to the gradual tightening of the muscles and especially of the fascia as the tightness creeps its way up the back, eventually creating neck and head pain. Experience shows that optimal resolution of the low back pain requires release of the fascia of both the head and neck. If the neck tightness is not also released, it will continue to apply a downward drag until fascial restriction and pain returns to the low back.

Muscle provides the greatest bulk of our body's soft tissue.  Because all muscle is enveloped by and ingrained with fascia, myofascial release is the term that has been given to the techniques that are used to relieve soft tissue from the abnormal grip of tight fascia.

The type of myofascial release technique chosen by the facilitator will depend upon where in your body the facilitator finds the fascia restricted. If it is restricted through the neck to the arm, he/she may apply a very gentle traction to the arm, slowly taking the arm through its natural range of motion as restrictions are released. If it is restricted in the back and is more superficial than deep, the practitioner may use both hands to apply a very gentle stretch on the skin across the back. If the thoracic inlet deep transverse fascia is restricted, the facilitator may place one hand on the upper back and one over the collarbone area and apply extremely gentle pressure.

A key to the success of myofascial release treatments is to keep the pressure and stretch extremely mild. Muscle tissue responds to a relatively firm stretch, but this is not the case with fascia. The collagenous fibers of fascia are extremely tough and resistant to stretch.  In fact, it is estimated that fascia has a tensile strength of as much as 2000 pounds per square inch. No wonder it causes pain when it tightens!

Fortunately, it has been shown that under a small amount of pressure applied by a facilitator's hands, fascia will soften and begin to release when the pressure is sustained over time. This can be likened to pulling on a piece of taffy with only a small amount of sustained pressure. Another important aspect of MFR techniques is holding the position long enough. The therapeutic effect will begin to take place after holding a gentle stretch and following the tissue three dimensionally with skilled, sensitive hands.

While myofascial release is gentle, it has profound effects upon the body tissues. Do not let the gentleness deceive you.  You may leave after the first treatment feeling like nothing happened.  Later (even a day later), you may begin to feel the effects of the treatment.

Frequently, there is soreness for several hours to a day after treatment. The release of tight fascia and its grip on the muscles can result in discomfort because of the body's purging of lactic acid that had been trapped in the muscles. The best remedy for this is drinking lots of water to flush the toxins out of the body. Often remarkable improvement is noted immediately during or after a treatment; other times improvement comes after soreness. Ocasionally, a client will experience new pain in new areas. Some patients have a feeling of lightheadedness or nausea. The client may even have an emotional response, perhaps feeling joy that had been hidden or allowing deep sadness to surface. Regardless of the client's response to treatment, FasciaWorks, Inc. fosters a safe environment for the myriad of possible experiences. All of these are ordinary, healthy reactions from the body when profound, positive changes occur during the release of fascial restrictions.

In general, acute cases will be resolved with a few treatments. The longer the problem has been present, the longer it usually takes to bring lasting results. Many chronic conditions that have developed over a period of years may require two or three treatments a week to obtain optimal results. Once the chronic condition has significantly improved, less frequent treatments can help to maintain the patient's progress. Many patients find that once the pain has subsided, one treatment every few weeks can keep them in good condition.

Experience indicates that very infrequent treatments will often result in fascial tightness creeping back to the level that existed prior to the last treatment. Performance of range of motion and stretching exercise will keep this regression between treatments minimal. It is felt that release of tight tissue is accompanied by release of trapped metabolic waste products in the surrounding tissue and blood stream. We highly recommend that you "flush your system" by drinking a lot of water during the course of your treatments. This will help reduce or eliminate reactions such as nausea or lightheadedness.

If clients have any questions or concerns that arise concerning myofascial release, they should discuss them with the facilitator.


  • Reduced inflammation
  • Reduced muscle and nerve pain
  • Decreased fascial tension beneath scar tissue
  • Relief of pain not achieved through conventional therapies
  • Soft tissue mobilization, loosening constricted connective tissues and freeing impinged structures of the muscular and nervous sytems

Last updated 23 January 2007