What is myofascial release?
You may have heard of trigger point therapy before as “myofascial release.” Physical therapists trained in this type of therapeutic technique use gentle, targeted, manual pressure and massage to relieve stiffness and tension with your fascia, which often contributes to pain and discomfort.
Fascial tissue is like a thin fibrous sheath covering your muscles, joints, and other structures. The fascia protects and connects these structures and helps muscles and joints move smoothly and effectively.
Normally, fascial tissue is elastic and pliable. If stress or damage to the fascia or underlying structures occurs (often due to injury, poor posture, repetitive movement, or poor nutrition/hydration), then the fascia may lose its elasticity in certain areas. This can lead to stiffness, pain, mobility restrictions, and an increased risk of further injury. It is this movement restriction and altered fascial health that trigger point therapy attempts to correct.
What are trigger points, exactly?
If you’ve ever had a “knot” in your muscle, then you have a good idea of what a trigger point is. Essentially, a trigger point is an area of excessive tension and/or spasm within a muscle and its associated connective tissues. The area is stiff, tense, painful, and often less mobile.
Interestingly, trigger point pain is often referred from a problem elsewhere in the body, such as a joint derangement or scar tissue adhesion. So, consulting with a physical therapist is critical, as these trained professionals can determine the origin of your referred pain and address both the causes and symptoms of your dysfunction.
What conditions can trigger point therapy treat?
The fascial tissue within your body is intricate and widespread. As such, adhesions and disrupted trigger points within the fascia can affect a large number of bodily systems and areas, including your muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, and nerves.
For this reason, we’ve found trigger point therapy to be effective for healing a variety of conditions, such as:
- Repetitive movement injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome and medial and lateral epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow, respectively)
- Adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder) and other mobility-related conditions
- Headaches and migraines
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- Temporo-Mandibular Joint (TMJ) disorder
What should I expect during a trigger point therapy session with a physical therapist?
When you arrive for your initial appointment with a physical therapist at our facility, you’ll be thoroughly examined and have your current and past medical history reviewed. Your input and our clinical evaluation skills will help us determine where exactly your pain is coming from, what underlying factors are contributing to your pain, and what kind of treatment plan will be best.
If trigger point therapy is identified as a valuable treatment tool for you, then subsequent physical therapy sessions will involve manual massage of the targeted areas. Using specific techniques, your physical therapist will mobilize your fascia and other connective soft tissues using gentle but firm pressure to reduce stiffness, pain, and discomfort. To facilitate the release of tense trigger points and prevent recurring problems, our physical therapy services may also include stretching, therapeutic exercises, and other modalities, provided on a case-by-case basis.
To prepare for your visit, we encourage you to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing and supportive shoes. Be sure to drink a lot of water both before and after your sessions, and feel free to ask us any questions along the way.
Looking for physical therapy to help you move better and feel better?