There is little scientific evidence to support MFR for medical conditions. However, one study found that myofascial release combined with electrical current improved pain and neck flexibility in people with neck and shoulder pain.
Myofascial release has been used to improve the health of the muscles and fascia, improve circulation and restore good posture. It has been used to treat back strain, chronic back pain, low back pain, thoracic back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic cervical pain, complex pain complaints, dizziness, vertigo, fibromyalgia, fibrositis, headache, myofascial pain dysfunction, plantar fasciitis, post polio symptoms, thoracic outlet syndrome, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, trigger points, tender points, and whiplash.
Each MFR technique contains the same components. The physical therapist finds the area of tightness. A light stretch is applied to the tight area. The physical therapist waits for the tissue to relax and then increases the stretch. The process is repeated until the area is fully relaxed. Then, the next area is stretched.
The therapist is guided by feedback he feels from the patient's body. This feedback tells the therapist how much force to use, the direction of the stretch and how long to stretch. Small areas of muscle are stretched at a time. Sometimes the therapist uses only two fingers to stretch a small part of a muscle.
The therapist will be able to find sore spots just by feel. Often, patients are unable to pinpoint some sore spots or have grown used to them until the physical therapist finds them. The size and sensitivity of these sore spots, called myofascial trigger points, will decrease with treatment.
Overall, myofascial release is a gentle therapy. Some patients fall asleep during treatment or take a nap afterwards.
Physical therapists often practice myofascial release, but it may also be offered by osteopathic physicians, chiropractors, massage therapists, and others who are trained in this method.
Progress is measured by a decrease in the patient's pain and by an improvement in overall posture.