Fascia is one of the most important parts in human muscular system. It looks like three- dimensional web that is spread throughout the body. It starts just below the top most layer of skin and permeates deep into two more layers below the skin where most of human muscles have built up. In its normal healthy state fascia is found to be like the weave in a finely knitted sweater, but due to any external damage or inflammation it may become rigid and stiff. In this condition fascia can create tensions, or pressure. Myofascial Pain Syndrome or MPS is a chronic syndrome that affects fascia. It may involve either a single muscle or group of muscles.(1) The toughest part of the disease is to locate the source of pain. In many instances it’s found that the myofascial pain is originates in one region while the pain is generating in some other part. Experts opine that the real spot of the strain or injury prompts the expansion of a trigger point that creates pain in other areas.
Fascial tightening can also result in back pain. It is on debate that myofascial release might have the capacity to relieve back pain. Lets us have a look at what myofascial release is, how it is done and whether it truly relieves back pain or not.
What is Myofascial Release?
Myofascial pain may sometimes become unbearable. If neglected it spreads to adjoining areas. Medical experts in this field have created Myofascial Release Technique which is very safe hands-on effective technique to clear restrictions thus relieving pain.(2) This technique involves applications of mild to moderate pressure onto the specific Myofascial tissue restrictions to remove pain and reinstate normal motion.
Trauma, surgical procedures and inflammatory responses create Myofascial restrictions that can produce tensile pressures of approximately 2,000 pounds per square inch on pain sensitive structures. These Myofascial restrictions do not show up in the standard tests like X-rays, CAT scans, Myelograms, electromyography, etc.
The inherent purpose of the Myofascial Release Therapy is to apply gentle pressure when applied for a prolonged time period will allow the viscoelastic medium to elongate thus minimizing the pain and ultimately removing it completely.
Can Myofascial Release Help Relieve Back Pain?
Most cases of back pains are due to Myofascial Restrictions. Theoretically speaking, myofascial pain differs from other types of pain as it originates from the trigger points, which are related to stiff, anchored areas within the myofascial tissue. Therapists who are experts in Myofascial Release Technique at first try to locate precise Myofascial restricted areas. More precisely the “Restrictions” are located, easier becomes its therapeutic treatment. The specialized Myofascial Release therapy applies manual pressure and stretching techniques to ease the restrictions. Hence, Myofascial Release is immensely helpful in relieving back pain.
How Myofascial Release Helps In Relieving Back Pain?
A Myofascial Release Therapist at first finds the areas where actually the pain is originating. The therapists also try to locate the triggering points. Finding out a triggering point is the most important job in the technique. It’s like spotting the epicenter of an earthquake. Myofascial release therapy is then started to release tension stored in the fascia. As the stored tension reduces, the back pain also comes down. Both on the upper and lower back including neck this therapy work effectively and the patient can feel the changes after each session.
How is Myofascial Release for Back Pain Done?
Myofascial Release is performed in the following procedure:
- The expert and experienced physical therapist at first finds the area of tightness by touching and mildly pressurizing in different parts on the back.
- A mild to moderate pressure is applied to the affected areas.
- The therapist waits for the tissues in the affected areas to relax and then increases the pressure once again. The process is repeated until the area is fully relaxed. Then, the same technique is applied on the next area, and this goes on.
- The therapist with his or her years of professional experience can understand the improvement. The level of pressure applied on an affected area depends upon his or her understanding regarding the condition of the fascia in that part of the back.
- Once the tension is released, the area is stretched either by applying pressure by the palm and spreading or stretching the skin in different directions or by active stretching exercises.
Hence, it is all about applying right quantity of pressure on the right place on the back. Time span of applying such pressure also matters a lot. Sometimes, the therapist applies only two fingers to stretch a small part of muscle for a certain amount of time. While in many other occasions the therapist applies pressure by all the five fingers forming a fist. Improvement is measured by a reduction in the pain and by an improvement in regular activities and posture.
Self-help Myofascial Release Techniques for Instant Relief from Back Pain
It is not always possible to appoint a physical therapist or a chiropractor to get Myofascial Release Therapy. In such occasions self-help Myofascial Release Technique is immensely helpful and effective.
Many of the Myofascial restrictions are eased completely with an unexpectedly small amount of trouble-free massage with own fingers or inexpensive tools that are easily available in any household. Although trigger points may remain undetectable, a little bit of effort can help the patient to find out the spots.
If the pain in moderate just a few mild rubbing for some days is enough to relieve the pain. Severe pain, on the other hand, needs a few different types of techniques daily at least two times for about a week and sometimes more than a week.
The paining areas and possible trigger points can be rubbed with fingers, thumbs, or fist. There is no bar in using hands; the primary motto should be to reach on the trigger point. As far as the back pain is concerned, it is tough to reach on all points on the back. In such situations any other handy tools like rubber belt or tennis ball can also be used to reach easily on the unreachable points.
Here are some basic tips regarding self-help Myofascial Release Technique:
- Application areas: There is no restriction in application of self-help Myofascial Release Technique. A patient needs to depend on his or her instincts to understand where and how much pressure or stretching is needed. Exploring the painful areas normally gives an idea about trigger points, hence while applying pressure on painful areas, trigger points are automatically revealed.
- Pressure techniques: This process involves the following ways.
- Rubbing in any direction is just fine for the pain.
- A vertical pressure with finger tips or with fist also can be applied.
- Pressure can also be applied with a tennis ball by rolling the ball to and fro on the paining areas.
- Amount of pressure or stretching: Pressure applied on the triggering point’s matters a lot. Pressure applied should not be moderate so that the patient himself feels relieved. Too heavy pressure may also be painful and instead of relieving pain it creates pain. So mild to moderate pressure or stretching that evokes a soothing sensation should be applied.
- Time and frequency: Once again it all depends on a patient’s realization regarding the applied pressure or stretch. However, minimum 30 seconds of Myofascial release for at least once a day is a must. Otherwise, there are no restrictions in frequency and period of applying Myofascial Release techniques.
Myofascial Release Technique is a great pain reliever. For back pain, this technique can be effectively applied for getting rid of mild to high back pain when correct process is used.(2) Understanding a trigger point, and continuation of the therapy with patience are the primary requirements for getting positive result from Myofascial Release.