Patients often seek out the services of Neuromuscular Physical Therapists for treatment after losing flexibility or function following an injury. If a person is experiencing chronic unresolved pain such as back, shoulder, hip, or chronic pain in any area containing soft tissue, Myofascial Therapy can offer therapeutic success where other modalities have failed.
At NTC we are careful to distinguish the use of the term Myofascial Therapy from similar sounding but very different terms such as Myofascial Stretching or Myofascial Release.
The term Myofascial is attributed to Dr Janet Travel, of Travel and Simons (Myofascial Pain & Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual, 1983), who in the 1940s used the term in reference to musculoskeletal pain syndromes including the now well established and recognized phenomenon of myofascial trigger points. Robert Ward, an osteopath, coined the term Myofascial Release in the 1960s. Ward had studied with the originator of Structural Integration, Ida P Rolf. Ward along with a physical therapist, John Barnes, is considered the protagonist of Myofascial Release.
Barnes has stated that “trauma, inflammatory responses, and/or surgical procedures create Myofaxcial restrictions that can produce tensile pressures of approximately 2000 pounds per square inch on pain sensitive structures that do not show up in many of the standard tests (x-rays, myelograms, CAT scans, electromyography, etc.)”
In anatomical terms it is not possible to stretch living tissues, or at least not much more than 1 or 2%. Bringing living tissue through physiological range of motion is our true focus and any additional lengthening results in damage or tearing.
While therapists widely use the term stretching, this term really belongings in the world of forces and generally speaking it is not what is happening. While a lengthening may be occurring what we are actually doing is bringing the tissue through its normal physiological range of motion. It could well be that the tissues are held or stuck short of their normal range. This may be due to spastic activity (Monosynaptic reflex arc) or due to adhesion’s.
In the case of adhesions superficial tissues are not gliding relative to deeper tissues, or perhaps a joint issue is at play. In this specific sense the use of the word stretching is employed.
The myofaciae are ubiquitous. They exist everywhere in the human body, although some authorities go to great lengths to differetiate flat tendons (aponeuroses) and bones from the fascia. At NTC
NTC. National Qualification in Neuromuscular Physical Therapy, Page 201-203