Myofascial Release: Here’s What You Need to Know

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If you sit at a desk for hours each day or spend a lot of time looking down at your phone, you’ve probably experienced tightness and soreness in your neck or shoulders. That’s myofascial pain.

Myo is the medical term for muscle, and fascial means fascia, which describes the strong, thin, fibrous connective tissue surrounding and supporting your muscles. Healthy fascia is smooth, slick, and pliable and helps your muscles move freely.

However, muscle overuse, injury, poor posture, stress, or lack of activity can cause painful knots called trigger points. These knots are made up of contracted muscle fibers. Blood stops flowing to the contracted muscles and fascia, which means they aren’t receiving the oxygen and nutrients needed to remain healthy and flexible. Trigger points send a pain signal to your brain that responds by telling you to stop using the affected muscles.

Myofascial release is a massage technique focused on releasing the trigger point to relax tightened muscles and fascia to restore elasticity and reduce pain. In other words, it can restore your freedom of movement.

What are the symptoms?

Myofascial Symptoms can vary and may appear suddenly, according to researchers at the Cleveland Clinic.

Symptoms may include:

  • Deep aching, throbbing, tightness
  • Trigger points in the muscle
  • Tender or sore muscle
  • Muscle weakness
  • Reduced range of motion in the affected muscle

Other commonly reported issues may include poor sleep, headaches, fatigue, stress, depression, and anxiety. You can experience myofascial pain in any muscle group, but it frequently occurs in the neck, shoulders, and back.

Tools for self-myofascial release

Foam rollers and percussion massage guns are both effective tools for performing self-myofascial release (SMR).

For decades, athletes have used foam rollers as a tool for SMR. However, targeting specific muscle groups can be difficult.  Foam rollers are inexpensive, but they are also bulky and inconvenient for travel.

More recently, percussion massage guns have become increasingly popular among pro and amateur athletes. These hand-held devices are easy-to-use, portable, and affordable. 

What are the benefits of SMR?

It only takes a few minutes each day to reap the benefits of SMR. Here’s what it can do for your body when done consistently:

  • Reduces soreness
  • Helps connective tissues recover after injury or exercise
  • Improves your range of motion
  • Relieves tension and knots
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Assists with overall relaxation

Foam roller safety

There are a variety of foam rollers on the market. Some are smooth, others have bumps that look like the tread on a tire, and they come in multiple sizes. Foam rollers are safe for most, but there are some precautions to consider before using them.

  • Roll slowly on muscle only.
  • Do not roll horizontally on your neck, spine. Instead, roll vertically to avoid injury.
  • Avoid major blood vessels, joints, and bony areas.
  • If you experience severe pain, stop and consult your doctor.
  • Do not use on torn muscles.
  • Do not use during pregnancy without doctor approval. Avoid calves during the third trimester because it may cause premature labor.

Massage gun safety

Like foam rollers, massage guns are also safe for most. However, we recommend following a few safety guidelines for the best results.

  • Start with the lowest intensity to learn how your body responds.
  • Make sessions brief, and don’t stay focused on a single area for too long.
  • Avoid using on your neck, spine, major blood vessels, joints, and bony areas.
  • If you experience severe pain, stop and consult your doctor.
  • Do not use on torn muscles.
  • Do not use during pregnancy.


SMR can improve your quality of life when performed safely and regularly. Be sure to see your doctor to a chiropractor if you’re experiencing debilitating pain or your pain is injury-related. It’s also important to remember that your muscles require adequate hydration and a clean diet to stay healthy.

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By |2022-02-23T23:18:05-06:00July 15th, 2021|Featured, Percussive Massage, Recovery, Sports Injuries|0 Comments

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