What Is Myofascial Release (aka – trigger pointing)?
To understand myofascial release, we must first understand fascia. Imagine a very strong dew-covered spider web encircling a shrub. And between the gaps in the threads is a clear gel rather than air. This three-dimensional complex matrix threads itself throughout our body, surrounding our muscles, nerves, bones, organs, blood vessels, and even our cells. Everything is held together and in place by fascia. It is impressively flexible and infinitely adaptable. When one spot gets tugged, pulled, injured, or any other stress response (will dive deeper in detail later on these stresses), the effects ripple throughout the body. This is why you may have pain in your neck, when it could be caused by an unstable pelvis or misaligned foot. Or you may have pain in your knee, which may have nothing to do with a knee injury, but everything to do with stress to our lumbar (lower back).
Myofascial release is the foundation of addressing most of our internal physical restrictions. Picture a baby and a piece of clay as a baby is very malleable, much like a hydrated piece of clay. The clay can be molded into many shapes and manipulated into different pieces of art. Over time, the clay loses hydration and becomes fixed where you cannot mold it into a new position or piece of art. Similarly, as we age and accumulate stressors (physical, chemical, emotional), we begin to become fixed, dehydrated, and calcified (like a statue). If we analyze clay as it dries, it is also less susceptible to change and will become very fragile, much like a human being. The difference between us and clay is that we have the capability of rehydrating the clay (fascia) and neurologically rewiring in functional patterns.
When you properly sequence myofascial release, with proper techniques, you are inherently adding water to the dried piece of clay making it more malleable and ready to be shaped towards functionality. Most individuals take a passive approach and lack the initiative to push past the pain barriers and their comfort zone.
Why Do We Trigger Point?
Through all the years of being in the fitness industry, we have never seen more sustainable results than myofascial release (done properly). Most of the time we are not aware of all the traumas we hold onto throughout the years of being a kid to our adult life. Trigger pointing is the only way to release the trauma that is stored in our fascia and when we do not properly release it, will continue stimulating a stress response within the body 24/7/365. You can be taking all the supplements, eating metabolic supporting foods, but if you do not release the physical stress with myofascial release then you are missing a foundational part to health.
If you have these knots, adhesions, restrictions, etc all throughout the body, this will block the pathway of circulation and oxygen within the tissues and cells. If we cannot get oxygen into our cells and tissues, we cannot produce proper energy, and if we cannot produce energy, we cannot think clearly, sleep deeply, have good digestion, and more. How do these trigger points (knots, adhesions, tender areas) build up? Through STRESS-CAUSING factors. Whether it’s a physical injury, chemicals from alcohol/tap water, death in the family (emotional), mold/bright artificial lights (environmental), or fried foods/fake foods (nutritional), they all cause our fascia to become like a dried piece of clay. Read our blog post on how to outsmart stress to understand other areas of stress that you may be unaware of that have accumulated throughout your lifetime.
If you have a leak in your boat, and the water is continuing to flow and slowly sink the boat, would you try to continue throwing out the built-up water or plug the leak? Those with functioning brains would say plug the leak, that is why myofascial release is doing in this example. You can continue supplementing with magnesium, buying organic food, expensive tools, etc. but if you do not address this stress that is constantly draining your body of energy, then you are not plugging the leak.
Trigger pointing will begint to remove calcification within the body that has been building up through stress-causing food, water, and lifestyle habits. You are rehydrating the muscle/fascia, which is synonymous with it being like a babies tissue again. You will be able to recover more efficiently, move without pain and re-integrate the right posture and positions getting you back to your optimal state as a human.
If you read our blog post on posture and gait cycle, trigger pointing will allow the body to get back to its foundational standing posture position. We discuss there how posture affects every function to the human body, hence your nervous system is in your spine. When your posture becomes properly aligned your digestion, breathing, hormones, sleep, energy, libido, performance, non-verbal communication, recovery, stress levels, and body fat can all improve.
Why Not Stretch, Chiropractic Adjustments, Dry Needle, Percussion Guns, etc?
When we isolate a single muscle in a stretch, compare that to stretching a grocery bag or rubber band. Continually stretching them over and over will deteriorate the recoil and elasticity to them, creating what is called hyperflaccicity. You may see someone that can do the splits or put their leg behind their head, but still have injuries, be in pain or not have a proper gait cycle.
Every muscle within the human body connects to one another and when you stretch or adjust one area, it disconnects you from all other areas throughout the body. Our fascia is like a highway of kinetic chains and all of the above modailites disrupt this connection, which basically creates a short circuit. You may “feel good” after doing a session of these therapies, but you will never get to the underlying, foundational issues. That is your standing neutral posture, gait cycle and throwing mechanics. It is what we have been evolved to do and our unnatural modern society has gotten us pretty far away from these functional positions. All of the therapies that take insurance will continue to treat symptoms and not get to the root cause. It’s not that individuals fault, just their training that kept them in a compartmentalized method of thinking.
Where To Begin?
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Nick & Nathan