Stress & Myofascial Release by Stephanie Miller – Prana Hot Yoga + Bodywork (2023)

Ever wonder what the connection between everyday stress & chronic muscle tension was? Here here you have it!

People always ask me, “Why are my neck & shoulders always sore & tense?”. That’s a very common question that I getregularly. The answer, is complex in many cases. But I feel that one way to help fix this common complaint is through therapeutic massage and good old fashioned exercise, or yoga to be more specific. The following is some great information on how to create more space in the body and allow it’s energies to flow more freely and unrestricted.

How can chronic stress or emotional trauma cause fascial restrictions? When the body and mind are under constant stress without adequate time to recover or decompress, the body can start to become inflamed. For example, spending way too many hours working at a computer with crushing deadlines to meet; and then not having a proper outlet to unwind afterwards

So many people go on day after day carrying loads of tension and tightness in their upper bodies. Unable to turn their head without straining, constantly rubbing their own neck for relief, some even unable to completely relax their shoulders down by their sides. Long hours at the office, high stress, bad posture and lack of physical movement can all take a huge toll on the body. Does this at all sound like something familiar?

If you are one of the many people who suffers from chronic neck pain due to stress and tension, here are some helpful tips and guidelines for getting some relief and letting go of all that unnecessary baggage that we carry around. Myofascial restrictions in the body are sometimes one of the hidden, underlying causes of pain and dysfunction in the body. Myofascial release is an effective and gentle treatment that helps restore range of motion and release tension. This is a hands on technique that uses a light stretch or friction on the skin that releases the fascial restrictions and opens blocked energy or congestion in the muscle tissue underneath.

So what does all of that mean, and why does it become restricted and congested underneath? Fascia is a basic connective tissue that runs throughout the entire body; it consists of collagen and elastin fibers along with ground substance. This tissue is somewhat crystalline in nature, meaning that it is excellent for conducting energy and information. For example, take a look at a piece of chicken breast. As you slice it apart you may notice a whitish viscous membrane lying in between the muscle tissue, this is the fascia. Fascia runs throughout the entire body, providing a smooth membrane for muscles to glide past one another during movements. It also serves as a method of conducting energy from nervous signals in the body and providing communication to underlying structures. When the fascia becomes restricted, it can result in pain, tightening of the muscles, restriction of motion, inflammation, fatigue and many other related symptoms.

So what causes fascial restrictions? Fascial restrictions can be a result of any kind of physical trauma in the body; like a car accident, falling down, or a sports related injury. It can even come from psychological damage, poor posture, inflammation from stress or diet, repetitive motions, and bad lifestyle habits such as dehydration from excessive alcohol consumption or a sedentary lifestyle.

How can chronic stress or emotional trauma cause fascial restrictions? When the body and mind are under constant stress without adequate time to recover or decompress, the body can start to become inflamed. For example, spending way too many hours working at a computer with crushing deadlines to meet; and then not having a proper outlet to unwind afterwards. Or even worse, going home eating a poor diet, staying up late watching television and not getting enough sleep. This is common for so many people, and one of the reasons why they get pain and stiffness in the head, neck & shoulders.

The emotional triggers for stress in the body can have an enormous impact. “Many cases of back pain begin with an injury, but if you look carefully, you will also find psycho/ emotional issues such as tension, weakness, or contraction prior to the injury”, as Deb Shapiro explains in her book, Your Body Speaks Your Mind. “Issues of survival are connected to the back: the responsibility of earning a living, carrying your own weight, being the ‘backbone’ of the family, or standing on your own. Thoughts like, “I’m not being supported” or “I’m being let down” can translate into back pain or weakness.” Is there someone or something putting pressure on you? Do you feel overloaded?

“The clearest way to see how the mind effects the body is through stress. The cerebral cortex in the brain sounds the alarm whenever there is a life threatening or stressful activity. This affects the limbic and hypothalamus systems, which in turn affect hormone secretion, the immune system and the sympathetic nervous system. This fight-or-flight response enables you to respond to danger”. However, seemingly unimportant events can also trigger a stress reaction because the brain is unable to tell the difference between real and imagined threats. When you focus on your fear about what might happen, it plays just as much havoc on your hormones and chemical balance as when you confront a dangerous situation in real life.

So in a very literally sense, mental stress can translate into physical stress. Anger, rage, guilt, sadness, shame or fear can all over time create a physical imprint in the body. During these moments, the body experiences a freeze response, and this psychological memory then becomes imprinted into our mind/body. In yoga this is described as samskaras. These memories and feelings are then put away into the subconscious and this can keep the body in holding or bracing patterns that start in the fascia that eventually lead to symptoms down the road such as headaches, anxiety, muscle tension and inflammation.

Mentioned earlier, fascia provides a system of protection and communication between all of the muscles in the body; when the fascia becomes compromised due to stress and inflammation, it is going to communicate that very same message to the underlying muscle tissues. That is where myofascial release comes into play. During this treatment, the therapist applies a light pressure and slight traction to the affected areas causing the microscopic underlying structures in the muscles to unwind and release, allowing energy to return and flow back into the structures.

Myofascial release can help alleviate a variety a issues such as neck and back pain, headaches, TMJ, stress and tension, chronic fatigue, scar tissue, sports injuries, shoulder and arm pain, and even helps calm some neurological disorders. Not only does it help alleviate these symptoms in the body, but also helps one release any emotional stress and increase whole body awareness to eliminate pain.

Yoga is a great adjunct to the practice of myofascial release. The benefits of yoga such as stretching the meridians, easing muscle tension, strengthening muscles, flushing localized blood supply, etc – have been well documented. What may be of interest is that certain styles of yoga will also influence the fascia and can be used to correct fascial distortions. This is done by holding postures for a prolonged period of time that have an effect on connective tissue and fascia.

The fundamental characteristic of Yin Yoga or Slow Flow is holding poses for several minutes. Connective tissue doesn’t respond to brief, rhythmical stretches the way muscles do. Connective tissues are tough and fibrous and stretch best when pulled like taffy. Imagine holding two ends of a piece of taffy and pulling strenuously for a second or two, nothing much will happen unless you pull it so hard it snaps (like a football knee injury). However, if you gently pull taffy for a long time it will slowly stretch apart. You might be tempted to say, “This isn’t good for connective tissue either!” But remember, taffy is inert and doesn’t respond to strain the way living connective tissue does. Holding postures for a few minutes with moderate stress is not going to stretch the connective tissue to the breaking point, it is only going to stretch it minutely and if you are persistent the body will respond by growing it a little longer… which is what you want.

Stress & Myofascial Release by Stephanie Miller – Prana Hot Yoga + Bodywork (4)

Our teeth are bones anchored in bone and yet we know from experience that they change. No one would think it viable to “exercise the teeth” by grabbing hold of them and wiggling them back and forth as in Yang activity. But with the patient, and methodical use of braces and retainers even bones can be moved and re-aligned. Likewise, the connective tissues that form our joints can be safely and desirably “exercised” by gently stretching them in yoga postures.

So the next time you notice that there’s some stiffness and pain in your neck and shoulder area, ask yourself, “What’s causing this” and “What am I holding onto that I need to let go?” Taking time out to workout, practice yoga, or booking a therapeutic massage such as myofascial release are some great ways to get rid of stress and lessen/ prevent fascial restriction in the body. Learning to listen to our bodies and then giving them the attention and love they deserve is one of the best and most important gifts that one can give themselves.

FAQs

Why is fascia important? ›

Fascia provides structure and support throughout your body. It holds your muscles together, which allows them to contract and stretch. It provides a smooth surface for your muscles, joints and organs to slide against each other without creating any friction or tears.

What is myofascial release yoga? ›

Myofascial release refers to the technique of applying gentle pressure on 'trigger points' to release tension in the connective tissues or fascia that bind and support our muscles, organs, bones, joints, nerve fibers and other structures of our body.

What does Myofascial release do? ›

Myofascial (my-o-FASH-e-ul) release is a manual therapy technique often used in massage. The technique focuses on pain believed to arise from myofascial tissues — the tough membranes that wrap, connect and support your muscles.

Does fascia hold stress? ›

The tissue does more than provide internal structure; fascia has nerves that make it almost as sensitive as skin. When stressed, it tightens up. Although fascia looks like one sheet of tissue, it's actually made up of multiple layers with liquid in between called hyaluronan. It's designed to stretch as you move.

Are emotions stored in fascia? ›

Our bodies are able to “remember” or “store” emotions. Because our fascia makes up such a large part of our physical being, it is also the primary source for storing our emotions. Our bodies hold this information below the conscious level as a protective mechanism and become state or position-dependent.

What happens when fascia is tight? ›

Healthy fascia is smooth and flexible. However, when the body undergoes physical trauma, such as muscle injuries or surgery, the fascia is placed under stress and tightens up, causing muscle pain.

When should you not use myofascial release? ›

Essentially, there are three symptoms that exclude the application of myofascial self-massage on the affected area.
...
These three “hard contraindications” are:
  • Redness.
  • Swelling.
  • Acute pain.

How long does it take for myofascial release to work? ›

Although there are many immediate benefits from self myofascial release, actual reconstruction of the fascia occurs over time, taking anywhere from six to 24 months (unlike muscle repair, which can take six to eight weeks). The key is to do a little myofascial release every day.

Can you do myofascial release on yourself? ›

Unlike other approaches to treating myofascial pain, such as injection therapy, dry needling, and deep-tissue massage, SMFR methods do not require the assistance of a physical therapist or fitness professional but can be performed by the individual herself [3], and are considered “a cost-effective rehabilitation tool ...

Which organ is targeted during myofascial release? ›

Fascia as a Sensory Organ – A Target of Myofascial Manipulation.

What are the risks of myofascial release? ›

Possible Side Effects
  • Muscle Fibre Release Sensation. This is a common and mild side effect. ...
  • Bleeding and Bruising. The doctor selects needle size appropriate to the muscle and to reduce the incidence of bleeding. ...
  • Bruised Sensation. ...
  • Fatigue. ...
  • Pain Migration and Flare ups. ...
  • Lightheadedness or Dizziness. ...
  • Nausea. ...
  • Infection.

Does myofascial release really work? ›

Of the studies, it was found that in treating plantar fasciitis, hamstring tightness, and misaligned pelvis myofascial release was useful (especially in plantar fasciitis, with on average 60% better pain reduction than the group without three months down the line!.

Does drinking water help fascia? ›

Hydration, stretching and proper nutrition are the only effective ways to heal the contracted, unhealthy areas. Fascia is composed mostly of water with proteins and proteoglycans. Fascia is made up of 70 percent water which is why hydration is part of the healing protocol.

How do you break up fascia? ›

“Things like foam rolling, myofascial work, and manual therapy will help break down the fascia and therefore help a person move more fluidly. However, you can also work directly on your mobility and reap positive reward for your fascia.”

Where is sadness stored in the body? ›

When we chronically repress emotions, we create toxicity in our body, mind, and heart. This unprocessed emotional energy is stored in our organs, muscles, and tissues. It leads to inflammation and chronic health problems, and it undermines our overall well-being.

Why do I feel worse after myofascial release? ›

Aches and pains are common for for around 24 hours after your treatment as the body flushes the toxins that have been released out. In order to speed this process along, drink lots of water after your massage.

What vitamin deficiency causes myofascial pain? ›

Vitamin B12 and folic acid inadequacy are more strongly related to chronic myofascial pain syndromes (MPS) than others. Insufficient vitamin B12 and folic acid reduces blood cell production. Blood cells carry oxygen to the muscles and plays a role in energy metabolism.

What does it feel like when fascia releases? ›

Some techniques can feel temporarily uncomfortable as the fascia is released and separated. It can feel burny, itchy, stingy and prickly. However these sensations pass quickly and the benefits can be felt as soon as the area is released.

What makes myofascial pain worse? ›

What makes myofascial pain worse? Myofascial pain may worsen if it is left untreated for a prolonged period of time. Additionally, you may also feel more pain if the trigger point or affected muscle is strained or stretched.

Who should avoid myofascial release? ›

Contraindications for MFR include – but are not limited to – those with malignancy, aneurysm, acute rheumatoid arthritis, advanced diabetes, severe osteoporosis, and healing fractures. (2) Your physician and physical therapist can help determine whether or not MFR is an appropriate course of treatment for you.

How do you know if you need myofascial release? ›

If you have muscle soreness from working out and/or from sitting at a desk, a massage could give you the tension release that you need to get rid of the knots and feel better. If you notice persistent pain that doesn't dissipate even after icing and rest, myofascial release could be a good option.

Can myofascial release make pain worse? ›

In short, your body may not know how to move and work well in a more aligned way. This can cause discomfort, sometimes even sensations of troubled movement or pain, as your body learns to work in a different way.

Can you overdo myofascial release? ›

That's right—it's possible (easy, in fact) to overdo it with do-it-yourself massage and recovery techniques, and exacerbate your injuries with the very tools meant to help them heal. At the very least, use them wrong and you might not be helping yourself much, wasting your time in the process.

Is myofascial release better than stretching? ›

These data suggest that self myofascial release compared to static stretching did not have a greater effect on hamstrings range of motion, but both groups increased range of motion from pretest to posttest. Many stretching methods have been used to help individuals increase flexibility in muscles and joints.

Does myofascial release help lose weight? ›

Myofascia release is key to losing weight, toning your body and improving your posture.

Do chiropractors perform myofascial release? ›

Chiropractors can treat myofascial trigger points through manual myofascial therapy. The therapies typically involve applying direct pressure on the trigger points. Alternatively, chiropractors can use active anchor-and-stretch myofascial release techniques to treat the muscle pain.

Does myofascial release trauma? ›

The myofascial release (MFR) perspective believes that unresolved trauma lies within the intricate matrix of the myofascial, or connective tissue that holds tissue memory, and that the myofascial system is the “record keeper” of memory in the body-mind complex.

How painful is myofascial release? ›

Often this is a hugely relaxing and enjoyable treatment that is non-invasive with minimal pain or discomfort. I would be remiss to not let you know, though, that other times there can be rather intense discomfort as ribs, joints, and other things begin to move in ways they haven't been able to for too long.

Is deep tissue massage the same as myofascial release? ›

The real difference lies in how MFR is performed, so that this connective tissue is addressed. Instead of just massaging into the muscles, MFR uses slow, steady pressure along with sustained stretching to gently soften that fascia over and through the muscles, more effectively releasing the tension throughout.

What happens when a trigger point is released? ›

How does trigger point release (or therapy) work. Trigger point releases relax your muscles and reduce pain by disrupting the core positive feedback loop. This can be done at any of the stages. For example, massage will help relax the muscles, and increase blood flow which helps remove waste products.

Why is myofascial pain so painful? ›

Myofascial Pain Syndrome

The pain is typically associated with trigger points in muscles. These trigger points radiate pain to the affected area when pressure is applied to them — and sometimes spontaneously with no pressure. Sometimes this pain can be in what seems to be an unrelated part of the body.

How often should you get myofascial release? ›

Many patients report seeing a reduction in discomfort or improved range of motion after just one session. However, depending on your therapy objectives and present circumstances, weekly, biweekly, or every other week sessions for four to twelve weeks is a reasonable estimate of the required time.

Can fascia release Make You Sick? ›

Some people become nauseous or lightheaded or develop soreness during or after treatment. This should subside within a day or two and you should feel less pain and move more easily than you did before. If soreness lasts for more than a day or two, let us know.

Does myofascial release help with inflammation? ›

Myofascial release can calm down the inflammation this pain amplification causes to the nervous system. By working to relieve these restrictions through these gentle techniques, the body can release this tension and decrease a person's overall pain.

How long should you do myofascial release? ›

More robust results were seen in studies that intervened for durations between 90 and 600 seconds per muscle group,18-20,22,23,25 suggesting that a minimum dose of 90 seconds is most reliable and is best suited for recovery of muscle pain/soreness.

What do you wear to myofascial release? ›

The best attire is a two-piece bathing suit or loose shorts and tank top or sports bra for women, and loose shorts for men. And because MFR is performed on the skin, please refrain from using any lotions or creams on the day of your visit, as this will make treatment difficult.

What foods are good for your fascia? ›

Antioxidant-rich fascia foods: avocados, berries, bell peppers, citrus fruits, cocoa powder or dark chocolate, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, herbs (e.g. parsley, rosemary, and basil), honey, leafy greens, onions, spices (e.g. ginger and turmeric), tomatoes, and white or green tea.

How do you lubricate fascia? ›

Here are a few ways to stimulate and lubricate your fascia for a healthier body:
  1. HYDRATE. ...
  2. USE A FOAM ROLLER. ...
  3. SELF-MASSAGE. ...
  4. GET A PROFESSIONAL MASSAGE as often as your budget allows. ...
  5. MOVE YOUR BODY UPON WAKING.
5 Sept 2020

How I cured my myofascial pain syndrome? ›

Treatment for myofascial pain syndrome typically includes medications, trigger point injections or physical therapy. No conclusive evidence supports using one therapy over another, but exercise is considered an important component of any treatment program.
...
Therapy
  1. Stretching. ...
  2. Posture training. ...
  3. Massage. ...
  4. Heat. ...
  5. Ultrasound.
11 Feb 2022

How do you release tight tendons in the neck? ›

Forward and Backward Tilt
  1. Start with your head squarely over your shoulders and your back straight.
  2. Lower your chin toward your chest and hold for 15-30 seconds. Relax, and slowly lift your head back up.
  3. Tilt your chin up toward the ceiling and bring the base of your skull toward your back. ...
  4. Repeat the set several times.
26 Jan 2022

Does fascia get stuck? ›

For various reasons, including inactivity, a lack of stretching, aging, or injury, the fascia and the underlying muscle tissue can become "stuck" together. This is called adhesion, which results in restricted muscle movement along with pain, soreness, and reduced flexibility or range of motion.

What happens when fascia gets stuck? ›

If fascia is stuck, it squeezes the structures it surrounds, inhibiting movement and circulation. If fascia is not moving freely the whole area will experience pressure, malnourishment and ultimately painful restriction in movement and at rest.

How do you know if your fascia is tight? ›

Symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome include:
  1. Pain that's described as deep aching, throbbing, tight, stiff or vice-like.
  2. Trigger points (a small bump, nodule or knot in the muscle that causes pain when touched and sometimes when it's not touched).
  3. Muscles that are tender or sore.
  4. Weakness in the affected muscle(s).
6 Jul 2020

What causes fascia to get tight? ›

Factors that cause fascia to become gummy and crinkle up (called adhesion) include: A lifestyle of limited physical activity (too little movement day after day) Repetitive movement that overworks one part of the body. Trauma such as surgery or injury.

What happens when fascia is damaged? ›

However, when the fascia is damaged through injury, overuse, or dehydration it often has a domino effect, causing a series of painful symptoms to appear over time. You may experience stiffness, reduced range of motion, and increasing chronic pain.

What are the two primary roles of fascia? ›

Understanding soft tissue injuries

The primary function of fascial tissue is to provide support, shape, and suspension for most of the soft tissues of the body.

What is the purpose of fascia on a house? ›

What Is the Purpose of Fascia on a House? Like trim, fascia serves the home by helping to keep moisture out and away from the roof when installed properly. It also supports the roof, shingles and gutters, which help direct water away from the home.

What does fascia inflammation feel like? ›

Signs and symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome may include: Deep, aching pain in a muscle. Pain that persists or worsens. A tender knot in a muscle.

How do I know if my fascia is rotten? ›

Peeling Paint – One of the most commone signs of rotting fascia board is flaking or peeling paint. This will be the most obvious physical evidence you have rotten wood. You will want to call your local roofer to confirm and repair your fascia board as soon as you see flaking paint.

Does massage break up fascia? ›

Massage therapists can help with a technique called Myofascial Release that uses sustained pressure to loosen and lengthen constricted fascia. Cupping therapy is another technique that stretches and lengthen fascia with the use of vacuum cups.

Can you damage your fascia? ›

Indeed, a number of adverse circumstances can lead to fascial damage and subsequent pain. Accidents, abnormal posture, repetitive movements, overextension injuries, or inactivity can all lead to fascial damage.

What are the 3 parts of deep fascia? ›

The deep fasciae envelop all bone (periosteum and endosteum); cartilage (perichondrium), and blood vessels (tunica externa) and become specialized in muscles (epimysium, perimysium, and endomysium) and nerves (epineurium, perineurium, and endoneurium).

How do I stop my fascia from rotting? ›

Choose a Vinyl Covering

Once you replace the wood fascia, you can protect it by choosing a vinyl covering for it. The vinyl is waterproof, and it will prevent the wood from rotting and protect it from pest damage. All you'll need to do is keep the covering clean to maintain it.

What color should fascia be? ›

–Fascia should be the same color as the trim. A dark fascia color can make the roofline look heavy. –Exterior colors near windows can affect the light in your interior. –If possible, paint soffits and porch ceilings the lightest color to keep the interior bright.

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