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Treatment Techniques

Myofascial Release

General Discussion of MFR

Fascia and Fascial Restrictions have already been discussed in some detail in earlier sections. Now it is time to discuss fascial release work in terms of treatment techniques.

Critical aspects in working with fascia are water content, the Piezo Electric effect, and the Thixotropic Effect. In brief the latter two are simply big words to mean that a substance (tissue) that has solidified from a normal gel state can be returned to that gel state via the application of pressure over time.

There are several ways to determine if fascial restrictions exist in any particular area. One is simple visual observation. How do the individual’s clothes fit? Many times, the underlying restrictions will imprint on the fabric. Another method with experience and practice is observation of posture. Certain postures are suggestive if not necessarily definitive that restrictions are present. Are the legs laterally rotated? Are the shoulders medially rotated?

The primary method, however, is tactile by very lightly running the flat of the hand in all directions along the skin. Using the back as an example, it would be from the neck to the waist, from the waist to the neck, side to side in both directions, diagonally in both directions, left shoulder to right hip and right hip to left shoulder, as well as right shoulder to left hip and left hip to right shoulder. If no restrictions are present, the hand will glide smoothly across the skin with no resistance. But when restrictions are present, it will feel like the hand is running across glue or sandpaper. For severe restrictions, the hand will just dig in and stop. The key is that the assessment must be done at the proper level to properly engage the tissue. And that level is directly beneath the lymph and before engaging muscle. In other words, very superficial.

The standard bodywork technique to achieve this is application of a cross-hand stretch (pressure) along the line of tension or restriction and then holding (time) until the release occurs. The importance of time cannot be overemphasized. Releases will frequently occur very quickly. However, if the stretch or pressure is released too soon, there will be a rebound effect. In other words, the release will be strictly temporary and the tissue will resolidify, much like elastic rebounding. The general rule of thumb is 90 seconds or more. The importance of staying at the correct tissue level also cannot be overemphasized. If too much pressure is applied, the muscle tissue is being engaged and not the fascia.

Acupressure Fascial Release

Personally, even though specifically trained in MFR, I rarely use basic MFR as such these days. I discovered by accident about three years ago that fascial restrictions will release on their own energetically if two acupoints that span the area of restriction are held at the same time until an energetic balance is reached. Two things that are particularly appealing about releasing fascial restrictions energetically are that (1) the releases occur on their own, incidental to other work being done, and (2) the client doesn’t feel like road kill the following day. Long sessions of standard fascial release work, particularly the more aggressive versions, are frankly painful to receive and create a temporary tissue inflammation that is at best described as uncomfortable for the next 24-36 hours. Energetic releases have neither of these problems.

Back Release Pattern

The area where I use this the most is on the back. I actually use three specific points on each side: Bladder 38, Bladder 42 and Bladder 47.


Back Release Pattern Back Release Pattern Back Release Pattern

The "routine" I use is to first access B 38 with my proximal hand and B 42 with my distal hand. I don't apply any more pressure than the weight of the body on my hands because I generally do the routine with the person supine on the table. I then simply hold that position. The first thing you will feel is the energy kicking in. That is followed by a physical sensation of something squirming or quivering under the skin. That squirming sensation is the fascia releasing. Because the fascia connects to the muscles and bones, the third distinct thing you might feel is a contracted muscle suddenly releasing. And if a contracted muscle is pulling a bone out of alignment, like the scapula, a rib, or a vertebra, you might also feel a skeletal shift as well. I have had cases where scaps have rotated in my hand, the sacrum has dropped, or the pelvis has shifted. You hold until you feel a sense of balance. For long term, chronic, or severe restrictions it is sometimes necessary to do the onion layer drill. After you achieve balance, slightly curl your fingers to access the tissue at a deeper level. And then wait to see if the energy kicks back in. If it does not, you go on to the second position pairing. If it does kick in, you stay until a new balance has been achieved. Also, if the energy does kick back in, you repeat the whole process by once again curling your fingers to get deeper. You repeat this cycle until you no longer have the energy kick in when you curl your fingers. Once you are done with the B38 and B 42 pair, you move your distal hand to B 47. Your proximal hand does not move - it stays on B 38. You then just repeat the whole process for the second pairing. This will basically take out restrictions in the full back. In a full body release routine, I will have already held GB 20 with my proximal hand while having my distal hand on B 38 before I do the B38-B42 pairing. This addresses any restrictions in the very upper back/shoulder/neck region.

Fascial diaphragm release

If extended, manual fascial release work is being done, it is necessary to start the session by first releasing the fascial diaphragms. Instructions follow.

  1. Pelvic Diaphragm – hand positions: sacrum/lumbar and just below umbilicus (between ASIS)
  2. Abdominal Diaphragm – hand positions: mid-thoracic spine and below xyphoid process
  3. Thoracic Outlet – hand positions: around c7 and below clavicle
    Begin with light static pressure while visualizing and seeing fluidity of diaphragm.
Pelvic Diaphragm
Abdominal Diaphragm
Thoracic Outlet
Pelvic Diaphragm Abdominal Diaphragm Thoracic Outlet

Add slight cross-hand pulls and/or twists to specifically engage congested areas.

Opening protocol: open pelvic, abdominal and then thoracic (this is a necessary protocol in any session which includes a significant fascial aspect and also excellent for facilitating decreased inflammation)

Fascial two-pointing

Fascia hooks on bony prominences
Two-point work can use these prominences
Common holds include:

Two-point work can used in areas of specific congestion. Use same technique as for diaphragm release. Explore area between two points with inner eye and send senses outward noticing pulls, tugs, ease.

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