06 Jan 12 Myofascial Release

One of the nastier things some cancer veterans have to deal with is chronic pain. As if we didn’t have enough pain with tests, procedures, surgeries, chemo, radiation, etc, etc, we also get longer term pain. It’s a frustrating reality for many of us.

Scar tissue is just one of the sources of pain for many. The good thing is that there are things we can do about it. There are various movements and massage techniques that help to loosen the tissues. One of the massage techniques is called myofascial release. It is a massage technique that can be done gently, or more aggressively. It can be administered by a physical therapist or trained massage therapist. The purpose of it is to loosen up the fine tissues between muscles and organs: the fascia. It also helps by loosening the scar tissue that is left over, even on the inside, from our surgeries.

Once the tissue is loosened (released), the pain decreases significantly, or in some cases, completely goes away. The best thing about myofascial release is that although it is a process, once you are loosened up, if you keep moving, there is not much needed to keep you at that new level of comfort. Usually only some gentle stretching is all I have to do.

I know for me this has made a huge difference in my comfort level with my longer term recovery.  Another benefit to myofascial is that it helps the scars on the outside lay flatter faster after healing.

I had a spot under one arm that was very tight and actually hindered movement. I opted for myofascial release and over the course of several weeks (I did the gentle approach, comfort was more important than immediate results), I regained my range of motion. Since I no longer go to a physical therapist for my treatments, I work on the area myself at home and I am gradually making progress on the area loosening up and starting to look normal as opposed to the puckered in look it has now.

Myofascial release needs to be taught to you by a licensed, trained physical therapist or massage therapist. However, they can then teach you the techniques enough to use at home. It is not a one visit fix, but I think it is worth the time to experience and learn.

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