Myofascial Release: A Massage Technique for Tissue Relaxation

Myofascial release is one of the new therapies I’m trying now. The three sessions I’ve had have been mentally and physically relaxing. A severe migraine dropped to a mild headache after Saturday’s session. The relief only lasted an hour, but what a wonderful hour it was. I went into today’s session with a severe migraine and left with a mild one. Nearly three hours later, the pain is hovering between mild and moderate.

Never heard of myofascial release? Neither had I until a reader mentioned it to me. It’s a massage technique that uses friction and sustained pressure to release fascia. Fascia is a connective tissue that envelopes or binds internal body structures to support, separate and protect them.

Normal fascia is relaxed and stretches and moves easily. Injury, tight muscles, hunched shoulders and slouching contribute to tightening fascia. Effects are cumulative, so repetitive motions or bad posture stiffen fascia more and more over time. The therapy seeks to release the fascia, returning it to a relaxed state.

It may seem strange to target connective tissue to treat headaches. Is there anyone who has headaches or migraines, but completely relaxed muscles? Tight muscles indicate that fascia is tight, too. (That’s my take on it at least.)

Whether my constantly tight neck, jaw and shoulders is a result of my migraines or a trigger of them (or both), they are still sore. The therapy won’t cure my headache disorder, but it may reduce the intensity of my headaches. At the very least, it soothes the pain in my shoulders and neck.

As with nearly every alternative or complementary therapy, myofascial release is often called quackery. Whatever. It feels good and helps me unwind more than other types of massage ever have.

Physical therapist John F. Barnes, a practitioner and educator of the technique, has an in-depth explanation of myofascial therapy and fascia. (I know nothing about him as a practitioner or his clinics, but the explanation fits with what I’ve learned from my massage therapist.)

4 thoughts on “Myofascial Release: A Massage Technique for Tissue Relaxation”

  1. Makes sense to me. Tight shoulders, neck, throat and jaw are always a problem with migraines for me. Are they triggers or a result? I don’t know. But tension is a problem, and sometimes massage really helps me.

  2. Kerrie, this type of therapy is the reason my headaches and migraines are no longer daily. best of luck in your treatment!!

    I never knew massage could be so great! I’m so glad it helps you.

    Take care,

  3. Hi Kerrie,

    Mayofascial therapy makes complete sense to me. The way that I look at it, if it offers you any kind of reflief at all, it’s worth it.

    Thank you for the info, I am going to look into it and see if anyone around me practices this type of therapy.

    As always, thank you for sharing your experiences with us Kerrie, it is very much appreciated.


    Thanks for the kind words. I agree that if something works — whether or not research shows that it does — stick with it. Unless it is potentially harmful, of course.


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