illustration of person holding baby with a lot of emotions
illustration of person holding baby with a lot of emotions

Myofascial Release and Pain Management Post-Surgery and in Postpartum Depression

By John F. Barnes, PT, LMT
January 12, 2022

Myofascial Release and Pain Management Post-Surgery and in Postpartum Depression

By John F. Barnes, PT, LMT
January 12, 2022

Pain is a part of life, and finding ways to manage it is something that everyone, from health care providers to patients to clients to massage therapists, spends time thinking about.

As massage therapists, considering how different techniques can help you better help your clients is a great way to not only share you passion for the profession with people who come to you looking for help, but also provides you different ways to work with clients. When you stretch your understanding of massage therapy and add techniques to those you regularly use and count on, you will have more ways to help your clients, and more ways to reach potential clients with the benefits of massage therapy.

Here, I am going to talk about the role tight fascia plays in pain, a couple of conditions where pain is a common symptom, as well as how using myofascial release can help.

Pain Issues: The Role of Tight Fascia

When fascia is tight, muscles aren't allowed to elongate properly. Many massage therapists have heard clients complain that they are more tired when they wake up or are in more pain after rest. When the fascial system does not allow the muscle to elongate properly, the important hypnogogic state of sleep may be disrupted, leaving us feeling exhausted.

Some common issues that have physical symptoms that may be helped by myofascial release include:

Postpartum depression. Postpartum depression affects a wide variety of women and, more recently, has become a topic that women no longer shy away from when talking about new motherhood.

Sometimes discussed as a symptomatic complex because of the physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms that define the diagnosis, some of postpartum depression’s physical symptoms include headaches, neck pain and depression caused by the occipital condyle being jammed into the occiput during delivery.

Trauma and surgery. Trauma, surgery or thwarted inflammatory responses can also cause the fascia to tighten around our muscles and pull the osseous structures too close together. Bulging discs, jammed facet joints, crushing pressure on the neurological, vascular and lymphatic systems and pain-sensitive structures are often the result, causing pain and restriction of motion.

How Myofascial Release Helps Pain

Myofascial release is utilized for the treatment of cervical, lumbar and sacroiliac pain, headaches, and and/or dysfunction, back pain, and other inflammatory disorders.

These disorders can create pain that main times can be alleviated or eliminated by gentle myofascial release.

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard stories of clients being seen by doctor after doctor, taking more and more medication as months, and then years, pass. Desperation sets in. They have tried therapy that only produces temporary results. Most often, the pain continues to worsen over time.

Fascial has a tensile strength of up to approximately 2,000 pounds per square inch. In other words, fascial restrictions have the potential of exerting enormous pressure on pain-sensitive structures.

Certainly, not all problems have a fascial origin, but restrictions of fascia are the cause of many of these problems in a surprisingly high percentage of cases, especially when all the tests turn out to be negative, when other forms of therapy have not helped and/or medication only helps temporarily relieves pain.

Myofascial release is not meant to replace the important techniques and approaches that you currently utilize. Instead, it acts as a very important added dimension, increasing your effectiveness and longevity of results in relieving pain and restoring function to the quantity and quality of motion.

Read More from John Barnes

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Myofascial release for athletic injuries