My manual therapy techniques include soft tissue mobilization, myofascial release, joint mobilizations and range of movement techniques. See below for information on myofascial release. Information on the other manual therapies will follow shortly.
Quick summary of myofascial release:
- I use “indirect” (also called “passive”) myofascial release
- A gentle touch technique.
- This is particularly useful for addressing muscle tension.
- Often used in combination with other techniques for best effect.
More about indirect/passive myofascial release:
Tension in specific muscles can cause discomfort for dogs and cats just as it can for people. If there is pain, injury or weakness in one part of the body, muscles in other areas may become overused, tight and even shortened as a result. New postures and patterns of movement easily become habitual and, even when the original cause of pain is addressed, muscle tension may continue. Negative emotions such as fear or anxiety also contribute to chronic muscle tension.
Myofascial release is a gentle technique used to address soft tissue restrictions. Using gentle hand pressure, skin and fascia are slid over underlying muscle, supported in place until tension is palpably reduced, and then gradually moved back into place. The exact direction, pressure and timing of the technique are adjusted according to tension felt in the tissues and to any body language feedback from the animal.
In my experience with cats and dogs, gentle manipulation of fascia can result in palpable “softening” of tight, uncomfortable muscle and an improvement in the animal’s demeanour.
What is fascia?
- Fasciae are sheets of connective tissue lying on top of, beneath and around muscles.
- Fascial sheets merge into one another and “form a continuum of connective tissue throughout the body” (Benjamin 2009).
- In specific places, they attach to tendon and the surface layer of bone (periosteum). Fascia can therefore be thought of as part of a “bone-fascia-tendon” system (Gerlach & Lierse 1990).
- In some parts of the body, fascia form special supporting structures such as the palmar and digital annular ligaments of the carpus and paw (Evans & De Lahunta 2013).
- Fasciae are important in transmitting forces between parts of the body and in promoting coordinated contraction of different muscles (Benjamin 2009).
- They may well play further roles in sensory perception and proprioception (position sense).
Fascia and myofascial release: References and further reading
Benjamin, M. (2009). The fascia of the limbs and back–a review. Journal of anatomy, 214(1), 1-18.
Gerlach, U. J., & Lierse, W. (1990). Functional construction of the superficial and deep fascia system of the lower limb in man. Cells Tissues Organs, 139(1), 11-25.
McKenney, K., Elder, A. S., Elder, C., & Hutchins, A. (2013). Myofascial Release as a Treatment for Orthopaedic Conditions: A Systematic Review. Journal of athletic training, 48(4), 522-527.
Evans, H. E., & De Lahunta, A. (2013). Miller’s Anatomy of the Dog. Elsevier Health Sciences.
Willard, F. H., Vleeming, A., Schuenke, M. D., Danneels, L., & Schleip, R. (2012). The thoracolumbar fascia: anatomy, function and clinical considerations. Journal of anatomy, 221(6), 507-536.