Myofascial Tissue Releasing

Today we are going to talk a little bit about myofascial tissue releasing. Tissue release techniques are everywhere! From active release techniques, to lacrosse ball “tissue mashing” (I’m looking at you crossfitters!) to the ubiquitous rollers that are found in gyms and basements across this fair land, it seems you can’t look left without finding a new way to manipulate your tissues. These techniques have become popular tools in the battle against soft tissue and joint pain that has become a part of the culture of sport and fitness. I can tell you that in the practice of physiotherapy here in Toronto myofascial release is widely used as a treatment.

There is an interesting debate out there about what exactly we are doing when we, roll, release and mash ourselves post workout. The commonly hypothesised mechanism, that we are stretching and lengthening fascial tissue with these practices, has come under some very thoughtful critique that basically surrounds the idea that fascial tissue is not plastic enough to deform in any meaningful way under the kinds of mashing forces introduced. A very nice synopsis of this critique is provided in these ( and articles from Greg Lehman, a chiropractor and physiotherapist based in Toronto.

However it appears that something  is indeed happening with soft tissue releasing techniques because people often feel much better after doing them! And indeed some research(*, **) has emerged showing that patients can increase pain free range of motion after myofascial release therapy. Additionally, perhaps there are other mechanisms action occuring that  patients find to be helpful. One hypothesised such mechanism is that release techniques can moderate neural factors that facilitate pain but I have not seen any research that demonstrates this (gold stars for anyone who can point me toward a study that discusses these mechanisms).

Since my clients feel better after myofascial release therapy I will continue to use it in my physiotherapy practice until the evidence convinces me to practice otherwise. In this spirit, I’m happy to present this video that demonstrates some simple release techniques tor the tissues that surround the knees. I often use these techniques as part of my overall treatment with patients dealing with knee pain caused by any one of a number of different types of problems (muscle spasm and hypertonicity are a feature of many different types of injury). If you have any questions about this or any other physiotherapy related questions please don’t hesitate to ask! I will answer. And of course if you live in Toronto, come in to see me in clinic, I’m at 1200 Bay unit 1102.

(*)Muragod, A., Patil, V. R., & Nitsure, P. (2015). Immediate effects of static stretching versus myofascial release in iliotibial band tightness in long distance runners-a randomised clinical trial. European Journal of Sports Medicine, 2(1)


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