self massaging hand
self massaging hand

Myofascial Release as a Self-Care Tool

By John F. Barnes, PT, LMT
March 8, 2023

Myofascial Release as a Self-Care Tool

By John F. Barnes, PT, LMT
March 8, 2023

Myofascial restrictions often go unrecognized in health care because they do not show up in any of the standard testing, like X-rays, CT scans, and blood work, for example, whether we’re talking acute or chronic conditions.

These restrictions can also cause immense stress in many people and produce tensile strengths of crushing pressure of up to approximately 2,000 pounds per square inch on pain-sensitive structures. Oftentimes, a scenario where the body is continually fighting itself, affecting everything from chronic pain to decreased mobility to sleep quality, is created.

As massage therapists, we are always working to help our clients resolve a variety of issues, from pain to stress to acute or chronic injury. But we can’t forget that we, too, need care and are just as human as our clients, with some of the same experiences, some of the same stresses and some of the same trauma.

Myofascial release is one way to help your clients break the pattern and more reliably access calm and reinforce their wellbeing. But myofascial release can also help you take better care of yourself.

Myofascial Release as an Effective Form of Self-Care

Most everyone will have stress—and most will have some form of trauma—during their lifetime. We tend to hold stress and anxiety in our brains and in the fascial system. As massage therapists, our jobs can be very stressful at times because much of our professional lives are spent taking care of our clients (and we wouldn’t have it any other way!).

See Also: Myofascial Release: The Benefits of Sustained Pressure

But we also need to be aware of how our work affects us, both physically and mentally, and then be proactive about protecting our own health and well-being. The same myofascial self-care techniques we provide our clients so they can extend the benefits of our massage sessions can also provide massage therapists a safe, gentle and highly effective way of providing care for themselves, giving us strength and calm during time of high stress.

Quick Myofascial Release Self-Care Protocol for the Fingers

Massage therapists need to take care of their fingers. Here is a short, gentle, and effective protocol that can be done throughout the day.

  1. With one hand, rotate a finger of the opposite hand, first in one direction and then the other. Here, you are trying to assess for the direction of ease.
  2. Rotate into the direction of ease and gently compress the finger into the wrist.
  3. Wait there for the tissue to release. As the tissue unwinds, you may be able to rotate a little more or compress a little more.
  4. Then, rotate the opposite direction, into the resistance. Now, instead of compressing, elongate the tissue.
  5. Wait there for the tissue to release. As the tissue unwinds, you may be able to rotate a little more or elongate a little more.

Quick Myofascial Release Self-Care Protocol for the Hand

  1. Grab the Hoku point (the meaty part between your thumb and finger) of one hand in a pincer grip with the thumb and index finger of the other hand.
  2. Pull the tissue toward your fingertips.
  3. Continue holding and pulling the tissue as you stretch your arms out in front of you, turning your head to the opposite direction of the hand you’re working on. You should feel a stretch up your arm and into your neck.
  4. Hold and let tissue release, then repeat on other side.

Quick Myofascial Release Self-Care Protocol for the Wrist

  1. Extend the wrist of one hand, placing other hand on top.
  2. Compress in toward the palm.
  3. Sheer top hand on top of bottom hand.
  4. Feel the stretch on the plantar surface of the hand, as well as the wrist.

Massage therapists spend their professional lives helping some of their clients more easily and quickly get relief from common symptoms associated with stress and anxiety. For example, myofascial release can help reduce pain and restore a person’s mobility, two things that can greatly improve a person’s quality of life. But massage therapists also need to take care of themselves, and myofascial release can provide a gentle and effective way to do that.

See Also: Self-care Tools for Massage Therapists