We'll start off by having a look at the words themselves...
Myofascial is made up of 2 core words - 'myo' and 'fascial'. The 'myo' bit refers to your muscles and we all know what they are! The next bit - 'fascial' - refers to something in your body called 'fascia'. Now fascia is not such a well known component of the machine that is your body, but it's vitally important. Fascia can be looked at as the connective tissue that joins all of your organs, muscles, bones, blood vessels, lymph and anything else you can think of, in a 3 dimension 'net' so to speak. It runs throughout your body, is a little 'tougher' than your muscles and is being heavily researched lately for benefits in both the general fitness area and the disease prevention / cure arena.
Next comes the 'release'. In this context 'release' refers to the alleviation of tension, pressure or tightness in the structure in you body.
Putting the 2 together we get myofascial release - a technique that can be used to alleviate the tension within the layers of fascia found within / around your muscle. Or, in English, getting rid of some tight / sore spots in your body.
It's based on understanding the way the fascia and your muscles interact within your body. They are in close proximity to one another and should be able to move freely of one another. At times, however, either one or both of the structures (muscle and fascia) can get inflamed, torn, stressed or generally put out of shape. This can lead to pressure spots within the structures that hold tension, reduce the efficiency of that structure and can also have an impact on the structures surrounding it. Again, in English, if you don't look after your muscle and fascia they get 'gunked' up, stuck to each other and generally stop performing as well. This can lead to reduction in strength, power, endurance, flexibility and more. It'll also increase your chances of injury or pain.
We now have an understanding of what the issue is, so now it's time to look at the release. By applying gentle pressure across your muscle and fascia you can pinpoint specific areas of tension. You'll know there's tension / inflammation as it'll be pretty sore in a specific spot when you apply pressure. Once you've found the spot you keep applying the pressure for a short amount of time (try 10 seconds to begin with) then release it. Keep moving up and down the particular muscle and apply pressure to each sore spot, then move onto your next muscle.
Effectively what you're doing here is releasing the tension, increasing the blood flow and flow of the lymph and enabling the inflammation to be reduced. This all has the knock on effect of increasing the performance of your muscles. To do it properly we'd recommend getting yourself a foam roller and maybe doing a little more research about it online or getting in touch with us for a bit more personalised help.
You should find that within a week or 2 of applying a similar pressure to your muscles once or twice a day the pain starts to ease. That's brilliant and shows that you've got the top layer of fascia sorted. Next time you'll need to apply more pressure to get into the deeper layers!
There are people out there that specialise in this sort of work if you look for them, but we've found great results by showing people how to do it properly for themselves (self myofascial release) with a foam roller. As always, if you have any problems or worries then consult a professional (us!).