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Myofascial Release: What is it and how does it work?

Myofascial Release (MFR) is a massage therapy technique that focuses on your fascial tissue. Fascia can be thought of as your body's inner skin, and MFR involves gentle stretching and manipulation of the fascia to enhance movement, reduce pain, and alleviate discomfort.


At Movement Matters, MFR is a crucial component of our therapy toolkit. We start with a one-and-a-half-hour consultation, including massage treatment, during your initial appointment. This consultation helps us determine if MFR will be beneficial for you. If you'd like to learn more, contact us, keep reading, or click on a link below to jump to a section:

What is fascia?

Fascia is an organ that everyone has, but very few of us know about it – it’s been overlooked until very recently. But it’s huge, connecting all parts of the body. 

There are three types of fascia in the body. Each one is like a protective layer, keeping things connected and in their place. Those three types are: 

  • Superficial fascia – the layer just below your skin. 

  • Intermediate fascia – the layer surrounding your muscles and organs. 

  • Deep fascia – the layer connecting your bones and deeper muscles. 


We focus on the superficial fascia, the one closest to the surface. The health of our fascia has a massive impact on the way we move and the quality of our movement, which, in turn, contributes to our physical comfort. 


How does MFR work?

Muscles and fascia need to move and glide across each other but, sometimes, they stick or become inflamed. If areas become stiff, they can create trigger points. However, that doesn’t mean that’s where the problem lies. With MFR, we’re trying to: 

  1. Create movement – loosen your fascia, help you relax and get you moving freely 

  2. Look for the cause – just because you feel pain in one place doesn’t mean that’s the source. 

To create that movement and find the cause, we work through the full fascial planes. Your body has eight fascial planes – think of them like continents of the world. 

By focusing on the plane, we can home in on the source of pain. For example, you might have a sore lower back – but that might stem from a problem in the sole of your foot. Or the top of your neck could feel tight and be causing headaches because your shoulders are too tense.

What does MFR feel like?

Compared to other types of massage therapy, MFR feels:

  • Stretchy – we’re working at a near-skin level, rather than deep within your muscles. 

  • Warm – that stretching can feel quite hot. After a while, it can feel a little like you’ve sprayed Deep Heat.

  • Slow – MFR is a very deliberate treatment, following specific routes through your body. 

However, we’re not looking to cause any pain. We’ll always work with a comfort scale of 1 to 10 – 1 being a feather’s touch, 10 being quite uncomfortable (like pressing hard on a muscle knot). We’re aiming for a 4 or 5. MFR can leave you feeling relaxed with better mobility. 

Ruth McNulty, the founder of Movement Matters, says: “I absolutely love Myofascial Release – both as a patient and a therapist! As a patient, it feels like finding the answer to a mystery – suddenly, a really tense part of your body can just loosen up, a pain can disappear. And of course, as a therapist, I see those benefits every single day. It’s helped people with chronic pain, athletes who need to loosen up, and even those who get tension headaches without really knowing why.” 


You might find it helpful to read some of our patient testimonials, which shows how we approach massage therapy in general. 

What is Fascia
How does MFR work
What DoesMFR feel like

Who is MFR for?

Simply, MFR can be for everyone. It depends on what we’re trying to achieve – less pain here, more flexibility there – but it’s a really common technique. 

However, before any course of massage therapy with us, please speak to your doctor first and get their permission if you: 

  • Are pregnant 

  • Have any heart conditions 

  • Have any broken bones or fractures 

  • Have any circulation issues 

  • Are on medication 

MFR – and any type of massage – can aggravate or cause further damage to any issues with your circulatory system, bones, joins etc. So we’ll also ask for any relevant medical details before your consultation in the first meeting. 

Who is MFR for?

What can MFR treat?

MFR can be used for treating so many issues – sometimes we use it for tackling very specific issues, sometimes we use it more generally. 

We often use it when treating: 

  • Plantar fasciitis – inflammation of the plantar fascia, which connects your heel to the start of your toes. The NHS has guidance on plantar fasciitis, if you’d like to know more. 

  • Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) – also called chronic myofascial pain (CMP), MPS is chronic inflammation of your muscles and fascia, with symptoms including sore muscles, throbbing pains etc. The American medical training group Mayo Clinic has a really useful resource on MPS. 

  • General aches and pains – the body is all connected, where an injury or a pain in one place can have a knock-on effect elsewhere. 


The body is an integrated system, a puzzle, and it’s each of our practitioner’s role to work and support you in putting the pieces together to achieve the maximum comfort and movement.

Whtcan MFR treat?

How effective is MFR? 

It varies from person to person. It really depends on you, your body, what you do between sessions and your reason for needing massage therapy. If you’re here just to feel more relaxed and a bit more flexible, you might feel the effect instantly! 


If your focus is long term, it might be because you’re overcoming an injury or working to correct a postural discomfort, we may use MFR in every session to support your recovery. You might start to feel a consistent improvement after six to eight sessions, it might take less, it might take longer. However long you need, it’s OK. 

What can I do next? 

You don’t need to decide whether or not you should have myofascial release. Your first meeting will be a full consultation – including massage – where we’ll assess you and come up with the best course of treatment. 

If you would like to find out more or book your first meeting, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.


How effective is MFR
What can I do next
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