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Myofascial Release

MFR is arguably my favorite modality! When watching a MFR session it might appear incredibly boring from a distance and even seem as though nothing is happening; like the therapist is just holding their hands on the patient watching the clock tick by. However, what you can not always see is what is going on underneath, between, and around their hands. What is actually happening is quite more complex than you might expect. Even before we get into the science of it too much, let’s get a handle on what to expect from an MFR session with a trained professional. The therapist first determines what they are trying to address, and then comes up with a plan of how to help the body to release it. Once they have chosen where they are going to work, they start by, yes, just placing their hands on the skin. Not pushing or forcing, just a soft relaxed hand. As the therapist patiently waits, the tissues they are working with begin softening and their hands will slowly melt deeper into the tissues. There is a fundamental time component when it comes to properly practicing MFR however which accounts for why it can appear as though nothing is happening. From when the therapist first places their hands on to when they remove them should be a minimum of five minutes. This first five minutes is broken down into smaller, equally important segments. For the first forty-five seconds of the move, the therapist simply rests on the skin; waiting for the fascia to “trust” their hands enough to let them through what is referred to as the “tissue barrier.” Once the practitioner feels this occur, they will either gently stretch the tissue between their hands apart or compress the tissue by bringing their hands toward each other. The therapist holds this position for the remainder of the ninety to one hundred and twenty seconds that it takes to get the entirety of the fascia to begin to release and allow their hands to stretch out the restrictions.
The complicated thing about MFR is that it is never quite the same. When working with fascia it is critical that the therapist “listens” to the fascia through their hands. “Feel” is one of those things that is not the easiest to explain in words, and often different people will feel slightly different things. Some therapists describe the fascia as fluttering beneath their hands or tingling like an electric impulse. Yet, there are an innumerable number of ways to perceive the liveliness of the connective tissue. It can feel as though the fascia is creating channels for their fingers to glide through; directing them to where they need to be for the body to find release. The practitioner is not actually the one causing the release. They simply put the fascia in a position that it can release itself.  For those that have never experienced this it sounds a bit strange, but you would be shocked just how effective this can be.
However, just being able to feel the activity beneath the skin is not always enough to bring about change. The therapist has to be able to discern where the body needs MFR, where the tissue is trying to “guide” them. The practitioner has to be able to trust their hands, not their mind, with the freedom to glide anywhere over the body. This can sometimes be conflicting because the fascia may lead you away from where the issue appears to be from the outside, but if the therapist lets go of what they believe to be the right course of action results almost always follow.

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