"Myofascial Massage Therapy" - You have probably heard this term get thrown around by a handful of massage therapy centres in Singapore. However, you must be wondering, what does this term actually mean? Is it just another fancy marketing jargon for Sports Massage? Is Myofascial Massage Therapy suited for me? In this article, we will dive deep into the meaning of Myofascial Massage Therapy, to shed light on this unique therapy style that is often not offered by your standard sports therapist in Singapore.
What is Myofascial Massage Therapy?
Myofascial massage therapy is a type of manual therapy that focuses on releasing tension and pain in the fascia, a thin layer of connective tissue that surrounds the muscles and bones. It's different from normal sports massage in that the focus is on the fascia rather than the muscles, and the therapist uses gentle, sustained pressure on trigger points to release tension in the fascia. This type of massage therapy can be helpful for people with chronic pain or muscle tightness, and is often performed using slow, gentle strokes rather than the fast, rhythmic movements typical of sports massage.
What exactly is a fascia? Is it just another word for muscle tissues?
Fascia is a type of connective tissue that surrounds and permeates all muscles, bones, nerves, and organs in the body. It acts as a type of "body-wide sling" that helps support and protect these structures, and provides a smooth, gliding surface for muscles to move over each other. When healthy, fascia is pliable and elastic, but when it becomes tight or damaged due to injury, overuse, or stress, it can cause pain, limited mobility, and other symptoms. In myofascial massage therapy, the focus is on releasing tension and restoring proper function to the fascia, in order to alleviate pain and improve overall body function.
This is slightly different to traditional sports massage where the focus is on the main muscle tissues itself, for the purposes of increase blood flow, to enable you to recover faster.
How does slow sustained pressure on trigger points actually help the release of the fascia?
The theory behind myofascial massage therapy is that applying slow, sustained pressure on specific trigger points can help to release tension in the fascia. Trigger points are tight knots or "hot spots" within a muscle that can cause pain and limit mobility. In myofascial massage therapy, the therapist applies gentle pressure to these trigger points using their hands, fingers, or other tools. This pressure is sustained for several minutes to help soften and release the tightness in the fascia.
The pressure applied during myofascial massage therapy is thought to stimulate the release of tight fascia, break up adhesions (sticky areas), and improve blood flow and nutrient exchange. This in turn can help to reduce pain, improve range of motion, and enhance overall body function.
Are there any scientific research behind Myofascial Therapy?
The scientific research on myofascial massage therapy is limited, but there is some evidence to suggest that it may be effective for reducing pain and improving function. A number of studies have found that myofascial massage therapy can reduce pain and improve range of motion in individuals with musculoskeletal conditions, such as fibromyalgia and chronic low back pain. However, more high-quality, randomized controlled trials are needed to fully understand the effectiveness of myofascial massage therapy and to determine the best approaches for specific conditions.
In general, the mechanisms by which myofascial massage therapy may work are not yet fully understood, but it is thought to improve fascia function by increasing blood flow, reducing muscle tension, and improving range of motion. Additionally, some researchers have suggested that myofascial massage therapy may have a pain-relieving effect by altering pain perception in the brain and nervous system.
What are the possible risk of myofascial?
Myofascial massage therapy is generally considered safe, but like any medical procedure, it can have some risks and side effects. Some of the possible risks of myofascial massage therapy include:
- Pain or discomfort: Some people may experience temporary pain or discomfort during or after myofascial massage therapy, especially if the therapist applies too much pressure or if the person has a sensitive area.
- Bruising: Myofascial massage therapy can cause some mild bruising, especially if the therapist applies deep pressure.
- Aggravating existing injuries: Myofascial massage therapy can make some existing injuries, such as muscle strains or sprains, worse.
- Spread of infection: There is a small risk of infection if the therapist does not follow proper sterilization procedures.
It's important to discuss any concerns or questions about the risks of myofascial massage therapy with your doctor or massage therapist before starting treatment. If you are considering a session with us, please let our therapists know before hand, or drop us an enquiry so that we can better advise you on whether the treatment is suitable for you.
How often should I go for myofascial massage therapy?
The frequency of myofascial massage therapy can vary depending on individual needs and goals.
These are the general guidelines before considering for Myofascial Therapy.
- Acute conditions: If you have an acute injury or condition, such as a muscle strain or sprain, you may need more frequent sessions initially to help reduce pain and improve function.
- Chronic conditions: If you have a chronic condition, such as chronic pain or tension, you may benefit from regular myofascial massage therapy sessions to help manage symptoms and maintain improvement.
- Maintenance: After you've received initial treatment for an acute condition or have achieved your goals for a chronic condition, you may want to consider regular maintenance sessions to help prevent the recurrence of symptoms.
What type of certifications should I look for to verify if my therapist is trained in Myofascial Therapy?
Yes, there are several institutions that offer certification for myofascial therapy. Some of the well-known organizations include:
- The John F. Barnes Myofascial Release Approach: This is a hands-on therapy technique developed by physical therapist John F. Barnes, and they offer certification courses and workshops.
- The Myofascial Release Treatment Centers: This is a network of clinics and practitioners specializing in myofascial release, and they offer training and certification programs for healthcare professionals.
- The Myofascial Therapy Center: This center offers training and certification programs for healthcare professionals, as well as workshops for the general public.
- The Rolf Institute of Structural Integration: This institute offers certification programs for healthcare professionals in the Rolf Method of Structural Integration, which includes myofascial therapy.
- Anatomy Trains: Anatomy trains is a therapeutic approach to myofascial release and bodywork that was developed by Thomas W.Myers. It is based on the idea that the body's fascia forms interconnected lines or "trains" that run from the feet to the head and from the fingertips to the center of the body. According to this theory, restrictions or tension in one area of the body can affect other areas along the same "train."
At Aylwin Sports Therapy, our in-house therapist, Jason, is trained in Anatomy Trains's:
- Anatomy Trains in Structure and Function (trained in HK)
- Structural Essentials: Shoulders and Arms (Anatomy Trains, trained in SG)
- Structural Essentials: Arches and Feet (Anatomy Trains, trained in HK)
- Structural Essentials: Fans of the Hip (Anatomy Trains, trained in SG)
- Structural Essentials: Head, Neck and Jaw (Anatomy Trains, trained in SG)
- Certified in Myofascial Trigger Point (Member of NAMTPT)
A qualify therapist goes a long way to ensure you are properly treated.
I am now convinced, how do I go about booking a slot for myofascial therapy services?
You can book a slot by going through our digital booking system. Please book your slots in advance as slots can get limited, especially during weekends and public holidays.