Keep It Moving! How Therapeutic Release of Muscle and Tissue Could Help Nagging Pain

When it comes to conditions like osteoarthritis, a unique type of hands-on therapy may relieve your chronic pain.

With experts David Shoup, DO, Sarah Borda, LMT, BCTMB, and Tiziano Marovino, DPT, MPH, DAIPM  

As our bodies age, we are constantly told to continue moving and exercising in order to stay in shape. Remaining active is especially important for senior citizens to keep physical ailments at bay. Many “touch therapies” encourage muscle and tissue manipulation of the fascia to massage and better treat chronic pain, maintaining a healthier body.

“Fascia is a thin, elastic type of connective tissue which is continuous throughout the body and envelopes, surrounds, or underlies muscle, tendons, fat and other soft tissue,” according to David Shoup, medical director at A.T. Still University Osteopathic Medicine Center Arizona. “Trauma or injuries affect the fascia, causing contraction and resulting in restriction of motion, which can impede circulation or lymphatic drainage.”

Like most aspects of the body, the fascia begins to lose its strength and deteriorate over time as one ages, leading to issues such as cramps and arthritis-related problems. Fascia complications and related pain mainly come from a lack of stretching and exercising, which is primarily why it is seen more among older individuals who tend to be less active. “Myofascial pain often goes undiagnosed, and patients who have myofascial pain syndromes may be undertreated,” said Dr. Shoup. He notes that further issues with the fascia could negatively affect the function of certain abdominal organs such as the gastrointestinal tract, liver, kidneys, uterus, and pancreas, among others.

Thus, myofascial release therapy promotes the movement needed to keep a healthy fascia going strong.

“Myofascial release therapy is a safe, highly effective treatment that involves gentle, hands-on touch with very light pressure and stretching of the entire fascial system,” said Sarah Borda, LMT, BCTMB, owner of bodyHeart Therapy Center in Chester, NJ. “The therapy is integrative, looking at the whole body and person.”

Many studies have shown the positive benefits of myofascial release therapy. For those with fibromyalgia, myofascial release techniques have shown to improve pain, sleep, anxiety, and quality of life.1 Myofascial release therapy has also improved pelvic pain in men,2 and self-therapy techniques have also improved knee joint health.3

According to Borda, myofascial therapy and self-treatment are especially important for old age. “We have been told for decades that we shrink when we age, but that is not the case if we consistently take care of our body. We need to constantly open up our fascia to stay fluid, mobile, and flexible. Our aging experience should be graceful!”

Tiziano Marovino, senior vice president of Health Strategy and Innovation at the Biogenesis Group and an executive editorial advisor to PPM, provides some quick lifestyle tips on how to maintain a healthy fascia:

  • Exercise regularly: that means three to four times a week for 45 minutes, at 60% to 70% of your maximum heart rate
  • Stretch often: approximately two to three times daily, especially for painful muscle groups
  • Keep hydrated: Dr. Marovino recommends the use of an electrolyte-enhanced drink for better absorption when needed
  • Get enough sleep: inadequate sleep and stress can both be detrimental to myofascial tension levels and subsequent dysfunction.

Myofascial release therapists are available across the country.

Updated on: 02/20/18
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