Myofascial release is a soft tissue therapy for the treatment of skeletal muscle immobility and pain. The therapy relaxes contracted muscles, improves blood and lymphatic circulation, and stimulates the stretch reflex in muscles. Fascia is the soft tissue component of the connective tissue that provides support and protection for most structures within the human body, including muscle. Osteopathic theory proposes that this soft tissue can become restricted due to overuse, trauma, infectious agents, or inactivity, often resulting in pain and muscle tension.
Although fascia and its corresponding muscle are the main targets of myofascial release, other tissue may be addressed as well, including other connective tissue. The direct myofascial release method engages the myofascial tissue "restrictive barrier" (tension). The tissue is loaded with a constant force until release occurs.Practitioners use knuckles, elbows, or other tools to slowly stretch the restricted fascia. Direct myofascial release is an attempt to bring about changes in the myofascial structures by stretching or elongation of fascia, or mobilizing adhesive tissues. The practitioner moves slowly through the layers of the fascia until the deep tissues are reached.