Fascia is fascinating!
"a totally connected system that touches all other systems".

(Oschman and Schleip, 2012)

integrated myofascial release therapy
A gentle but powerful approach to Health and Well-being


Integrated Myofascial Release Therapy (iMFR) is a hands-on manual therapy that works on the fascia -a connected tissue that connects everything with everything in the body and includes all our collagenous soft tissue, including tendons, ligaments, muscle (fibre) wraps, fascial planes/sheets, membranes, and the fluid in between it all. 


What is fascia?

Fascia is everywhere; it supports, surrounds, protects, and separates every cell, organ, muscle, bone, nerve, and blood vessel in the human body. Even the fluid-filled spaces are part of our fascial system.


Of all our senses, touch is the most fundamental. You can survive without smell, sight or taste, but not without touch. Our fascia is also the largest sensory organ of the body. It is estimated that it has 50 million more sensory nerve endings than our skin. It is sensitive and responsive to pressure, touch, temperature and movement. The receptors deliver that information to the brain via the nervous system.


Besides its function as a sensory organ, fascia shapes our body, stabilises, communicates, and allows for tissue glide, strength, movement and load distribution. It plays a significant role in perceiving posture, movement, balance, awareness, and coordination. It creates an environment for all body systems to work together. 

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What is Integrated Myofascial Release Therapy?

iMFR is a therapy that uses over 75 gentle hands-on techniques to safely reduce restrictions and their effects on the body's fascial network. Gentle sustained pressure, stretching, motion, and compression facilitate the softening and reorganisation of fascia. This soothes the nervous system, triggers an anti-inflammatory response, and can help restore fascial function, reduce pain perception, and support the body's natural healing processes.


The experience and results are quite different from receiving a massage. You are an active part of the treatment, and although you can expect to feel relaxed during and after treatment, it can also be intense and hard work. 


Integrated Myofascial Release Therapy - MFR is a very safe technique and is always applied within your comfort levels; it treats the whole person and is effective and profound. After the treatment, you can feel more relaxed and resilient, with reduced physical complaints and an intense sense of well-being.


What to wear?

You can wear thin, loose stretchy shorts. Ladies can also wear a vest top and/or a soft, non-wired bra. Please, no sports bras with a T or Y-shaped back, as this makes it difficult to treat the back. The therapy does not require or use oil, so you don't have to worry about your clothes or hair. Please don't put any oil or moisturiser on your skin (other than medically necessary) to prevent gliding and slipping over the tissue. 


Clients seek treatment for (including but not limited to):
• Stress, anxiety, fatigue
• Chronic pain

• Women's Health

• Emotional injury

• TMJ & jaw problems


There are many more health issues that Alex and Integrated Myofascial Release Therapy - MFR can help with. Please don’t hesitate to make an appointment if you experience something that is not on the special interest list. Or contact Alex if you are unsure.


Fascia's structure and function show us its importance in keeping it healthy.

Integrated Myofascial Release Therapy works with the body-wide fascial system. Fascia includes all our collagenous soft tissue in the body. It’s a fluid-filled, dynamic, web-like 3D network of connective tissue with no beginning or end. It is crucial for our body shape, posture, movement, force transmission, cellular exchange, and protection. Our fascia connects everything with everything in our body and provides support, stabilisation, and strength, allowing us to glide between all our structures. It runs through and between every cell in your body and surrounds, infuses, and protects every other tissue and organ.

Usually, the body adapts to overuse, underuse, and injury, but when there is too much ‘load’ for too long, it can lead to fascial dysfunction.

With dysfunction, fascia becomes sticky, hard, and dehydrated and can start pulling on other body parts, leading to further postural misalignment, restrictions, pain, and reduced range of motion.

Myofascial therapy is performed directly on the skin and can be used on every body part, including the head, jaw, feet, back, abdomen, and shoulders. 

 

Integrated Myofascial Release Therapy is a safe and gentle therapy that combines over 50 hands-on techniques to reorganise and rebalance the fascia, soothe the nervous system, and trigger an anti-inflammatory response. This can help to restore fascial function and hormonal balance, reduce pain perception, and support the body's innate healing processes. MFR is always applied within your comfort zone; it treats the whole person and is effective and profound. Even after just one session, many people experience reduced discomfort and an improved range of motion. It's important to remember that healing is a gradual process, not an instant solution.


Integrated Myofascial Release Therapy - MFR does not use oil. You can wear thin, loose shorts and a top, and the experience and results are very different to receiving a massage. This is a therapy where you are involved in the process. This is about you and for you.

Self-care is an integral part of Myofascial Release Therapy. Throughout our 1-2-1 treatment sessions, we work to create a personalised self-care plan that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine. It will be tailored to your unique needs and preferences and always within your comfort zone. With this plan, you'll be empowered to take proactive steps to care for yourself and feel your best.

 

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Clients seek treatment for, incl. but not limited to:
• Stress, anxiety, fatigue
• Chronic pain

• Women's health

• Emotional injury

• TMJ & jaw pain


Alex and Integrated Myofascial Release Therapy can help with many more health symptoms. Please don’t hesitate to make an appointment if you experience something that is not on the special interest list, or contact Alex if you are unsure.

book online

What can myofascial release therapy do for you?

The body is a self-repairing mechanism. With touch, we can initiate this self-healing function. The system and structures are always listening and trying to sort themselves out. Touch can help to unlock something that's in the way or enhance the process to support it. 


By treating a specific area of restriction, your body will start to take note of it and automatically increase the blood supply, clearing the area by removing wastes and providing it with oxygen and nutrients.


Awareness helps you connect with yourself and gives you a sense of what is happening in your body. Our ability to sense and interpret our internal bodily sensations, known as interoception, can greatly impact our emotional regulation and mental health. 

 

Vagus nerve stimulation, using touch and breath, allows the heart rate and blood pressure to drop and your nervous system to slow down, making you feel calmer, more compassionate, and giving more clarity. Increasing vagal activity is like a brake on the body's stress response, helping you develop a healthy and more resilient stress response. 


Myofascial techniques, being touched mindfully, sends signals of safety and trust to the brain. This is when good-feel hormones are released, making it easier for you to let go and relax. Transmitting heat, pressure and frictional movement to the fascia helps it soften and become more flexible, elastic and palpable. Loosening up any restricted areas will free up the underlying structures, allowing them to regain symmetry, alignment and mobility.


Deep breathing during the massage helps to turn down the fight-or-flight response and activates the rest-and-digest system, which allows you to relax. You are basically retraining and rewiring your brain to create new and healthy pathways.

 

Focussed breathing to local areas of pain, tightness and sensitivity brings awareness to what is going on in your body and allows the tissue to soften and create space for the surrounding tissue. 

 

Conscious breathing in and out through your nose helps to cultivate energy. It allows you to shake things off that weigh you down and use the reconnecting to your breath to reawaken your energy so that you can move and live with a clear and more focused mind. 

 

Mindful movement of the body improves circulation, which helps the immune function and the recovery from stressful events. Movement reduces pain and deepens the relaxation of the fascia, muscles and other soft tissues.

 

Assisted stretches lead to the continued ability to move, whereas stillness leads to stiffness. Stretching helps your flexibility and blood circulation, reducing pain, stiffness and injury risk.

 

Creating balance by removing body tension requires both a firm and gentle touch. Firm touch promotes the release of the fascia and other soft tissues like muscles and tendons, whereas gentle touch is needed to allow change to happen and to down-regulate the nervous system. 


The body strives for balance and equilibrium, and our homeostatic and allostatic systems are constantly at work to achieve this. Even though experiences like fear, pain, fever, and stress (and many others) may not be enjoyable, they serve as protective mechanisms to help us return to our baseline. Essentially, they signal us to take a break and slow down.


Allostasis (the system of all systems) is the system that helps to reinstate homeostasis (individual system regulation). Sometimes, however, a system has become overprotective because it thinks there is a constant threat. As an analogy, it is similar to only liking chocolate cake and not any other kind, but it's possible to train your brain to enjoy all types of cake again.

Self-care is an important part of myofascial therapy. Throughout our sessions, we'll work to create a personalised self-care plan that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine. It will be tailored to your unique needs and preferences and always within your comfort zone. With this plan in place, you'll be empowered to take proactive steps to care for yourself and feel your best.

Fascia and Myofascial release therapy

A thing called FASCIA…

Integrated Myofascial Release Therapy - MFR has quite different effects and results from massage. While massage primarily cares for the skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, Integrated Myofascial Release Therapy - MFR works with the body-wide fascial system, which automatically includes all these structures as fascia wraps, infiltrates and connects them.

Our fascial system supports our bodies, spreading force, stabilising, strengthening, balancing, and allowing glide between all our body structures. It is totally fascinating how this system sustains us. 

Fascia is one dynamic 3D system without beginning and end, extending from the skin's surface to the cell's nucleus. Fascia is our primary connective tissue, our largest sensory organ, and an incredible communicator that interacts with all body parts.

Imagine a network of thin and lubricated fibres with a gel-like substance in between. Information is sent through the fascia network, which continuously adapts the fibres by reconnecting, moving, and gliding them, as well as thickening and thinning the gel. These actions are independent of the nervous system with every movement, pulsation, vibration, peristalsis, and pressure. Its purpose is to support movements, maintain posture, and protect from injury.

Its independence from the nervous system doesn't mean it's senseless. The fascial system has more sensory nerve endings than any other body part. It is sensitive and responsive to pressure, touch, temperature, and movement. The receptors deliver that information to the brain via the nervous system. Skilful, sensitive touch signals the brain that the body is safe, reducing cortisol secretion and increasing oxytocin levels, helping to down-regulate the body's stress response.

Factors like inflammation, lifestyle, malnutrition, toxins, stress, poor posture, overuse, underuse, and many others can cause the facial fibres (collagen and elastic) to stick together. This decreases cellular exchange and causes a build-up of toxins in the fascia. 

If this 'load’ continues for a prolonged period, fascia adapts to its circumstances, basically trying to help you. When one body part adapts, others may too, as tight fascia may create a 'pull'. 'Overloading' the body for too long, there may be a point where this fascial support becomes dysfunctional, and symptoms like reduced mobility, pain, fatigue, stress, anxiety, or disease may present themself. 

Surprisingly, the fascial system's remarkable ability to sense, communicate, connect, and transform has been overlooked for a long time. To improve movement and health, working with the fascial system is essential. 

 

Understanding that any restriction can impact other systems and body parts and vice versa is the essence of Integrated Myofascial Release Therapy - MFR. This is why Integrated Myofascial Release Therapy - MFR is a body-wide approach, and we have a toolbox full of techniques that can be applied to any restricted body area.

 

By understanding the fascial system better, one may appreciate how Integrated Myofascial Release Therapy - MFR can help improve dysfunction, restore equilibrium, and enhance health.

 

You can book online here

The fascial matrix


The fascial matrix can dry out or become impaired and restricted by emotional or physical traumas, injuries, inflammation, malnutrition, poor posture, underuse, or overuse. Over time, the thickened fascia can create fascial restriction and drag throughout the body, potentially causing misalignment and dysfunction. This is where we may perceive pain, stress, fatigue, physical restrictions, sleep disturbances, weight imbalances, or illness; they are our body’s way of telling us that something is not quite right -out of balance. Ignoring these signs for too long or being unaware of them can eventually lead to poor health and disease.


Fascia is our body's largest organ and comprises gel-like substances, collagen, and some cells. Fascia is densely woven tissue covering and penetrating every bone, muscle, nerve, artery, vein, and even the cells and all internal organs, including the heart, lungs, brain and spinal cord; not surprisingly, Integrated Myofascial Release Therapy - MFR is such a valuable tool to treat somatic dysfunction.


Diagnosing fascial restrictions with traditional methods is challenging as they do not appear on MRI scans or X-Rays. But it is unmistakably present and effectively treatable for a sensitive practitioner and trained hands. 

A whole-body approach

A whole-person approach -including brain function- helps better understand musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction. This approach differs from a conventional approach of dividing and treating the body into individual body systems. With this all-encompassing approach, we can often reverse the cause of the issue. Practices such as mental and physical (body-mind) exercises and hands-on movement reeducation are geared towards improving awareness and correcting problematic movement patterns. These methods provide an opportunity to prevent or even reverse tissue irregularities and reduce pain.


The body has an innate ability to adapt to overuse, underuse, and injury through fascial plasticity. Where there is too much 'load' for too long, this can lead to fascial dysfunction. With fascial dysfunction, there is reduced fluid flow, loss of function, increased collagen production, restricted movement, asymmetry, and high energy consumption. Factors like physical and emotional trauma, inflammatory processes, poor nutrition, or habitual poor posture can cause tissue densification (plasticity), fascial dysfunction, poor health, and eventually disease. 


By offering a safe space and skilful, sensitive touch, we mindfully pay attention to what’s happening inside your body, working through restrictions and helping you connect, feel, and soften to restore balance and function.


Integrated Myofascial Release Therapy - MFR

There are many Integrated Myofascial Release Therapy - MFR techniques, probably over 50, with unique use. Some are applied directly on a muscle, others with gentle, sustained pressure, and several are finger-light touch. All of these make the body and brain feel safe and initiate a relaxed response. Restrictive patterns can be removed by applying slow, sustained pressure for over 3 minutes at a time throughout the body into areas of tightness, restriction, or pain, and the fascial system can soften and reset. This is also where emotions or memories may resurface, which may further help to downregulate the nervous response. When stress is reduced, so are restrictions and the experience of pain, stress, and fatigue.


Tissue barriers will not be pushed. We wait until the tissue softens and undergoes changes, so it can reorganise itself. Led by the body to a new tissue barrier; this will also be held until it softens. After a few 'releases', the local tissues have become softer and more pliable, affecting other body parts as well. 

You will be able to feel the difference, and often, a reduction in stress, restriction and pain is felt.


Myofascial Unwinding 

Spontaneous body movement may occur during an iMFT (MFR) session. It's a natural response and the body's way to down-regulate the stress response. It comes from a primitive part of the brain and the autonomic nervous system that is not under conscious control. 


John F. Barnes on myofascial unwinding;

"Myofascial unwinding is a subtle motion that comes from the client’s subconscious. The beauty and power of myofascial unwinding are that it finds positions of past traumas that are somehow embedded in the fascial system. When these positions are found, the subconscious holding patterns start to release their iron grip on our clients, and the straitjacket of fascial restrictions begin to soften, melt, rehydrate and glide". It's the body's way of self-correction through the motion of the subconscious.


Myofascial Rebounding

Inducing rocking waves to move stagnated fluids and energy through our body. The gentle waves start

to soften and undo tight, restricted areas, holding patterns, stress and, possibly, trauma.

 
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Of course, there are other techniques that complement an Integrated Myofascial Release Therapy - MFR treatment session:


Soft Tissue Release (STR) This pin-and-stretch technique is used in massage to restore the natural stretchability of a muscle and the ligaments. It is beneficial for tense and shortened muscles. Soft Tissue Release uses local pressure combined with active or passive stretching. Pressure will be applied temporarily to 'lock' and 'shorten' the muscle length. Then the body part is actively moved to create a local muscle lengthening


Post-Isometric Relaxation (PIR) is a form of muscle energy technique (MET) to lengthen both acute and chronically shortened muscles and improve musculoskeletal function. It reduces muscle tension and pain and improves circulation and lymphatic flow. The post-isometric relaxation technique begins by placing the muscle in a stretched position. Then an isometric contraction is exerted against minimal resistance. Relaxation and then a gentle stretch follow as the muscle releases.


Muscle energy technique (MET) is another neuromuscular technique that can be used to cause relaxation and lengthening of the muscles and improve the range of motion in joints. It requires the contraction of a muscle contraction in a controlled direction against the therapist's counterforce. The contraction (20-30% of one's capacity) is performed away from the first barrier found and held for 7-10 seconds. This will be performed 2 to 3 times, allowing the joint to be moved further into the restricted range of motion.


The integrated neuromuscular inhibition technique (INIT) is an integrated treatment sequence developed to deactivate myofascial trigger points (TrP). 


Fascia facts:



Benefits of keeping fascia healthy


What to expect


Integrated Myofascial Release Therapy - MFR is performed directly on the skin and can be used on every body part, including the jaw, feet, back and shoulders. Research has shown it takes up to 3 to 5 minutes of this technique per area to establish lasting results; hence, it's a slow non-invasive, but effective method to treat the whole body.


Please don't use any skin products (oils, body lotion, or medically required) 

other than deodorant and face cream before treatment.


Usually, weekly sessions are recommended to start the healing process. Your body’s ability to heal and your general health determine the frequency of treatment. Maybe counterintuitively, but the healthier you are, the higher the tolerance to fascial release treatment. And, if you are less healthy, the initial treatment frequency may be lower, and as your health and function improve, they increase. This is because a less healthy person's body often has a slower healing process pace than that of a more healthy individual.


One session per week is typically suggested for the first four to six weeks, followed by re-evaluation. This outcome will determine whether the therapy should continue weekly, fortnightly, or monthly. After the first few sessions, we will also introduce how to use iMFR to look after yourself. And as soon as possible, we will move to monthly or quarterly sessions.


After just one session, many people experience reduced discomfort and an improved range of motion. 

It's important to remember that healing is a gradual process, not an instant solution.


Besides an initial treatment, your first visit includes identifying your goals, abilities, limitations, and regions of restricted fascia. 

You can book your Integrated Myofascial Release Therapy - iMFR session here

Read more on the blog 

Treatment options

One-to-one session with Alex, usually 90 min 

Co-treatment: two Integrated Myofascial Release Therapy - MFR therapists treating you at the same time

Intensive healing programmes

Integrated Myofascial Release Therapy - MFR at your retreat or yoga studio, click here


intensive healing programmes


Intensive-day programme

This involves multiple treatments (usually 90 minutes each) in one day, with rest and the opportunity for self-care between sessions. This can be at the centre or at your retreat.

Mini-intensive programme:


Integrated Myofascial Release Therapy - MFR is found to be more successful when more treatments are administered within a shorter period, depending on your overall health, the severity of the problems and the desired outcome. A course of treatment can look like two or three 90-minute sessions per week for three weeks in a row. 


Intensive programme:


For dramatic results, breaking through habitual patterns and experiencing the full extent of Integrated Myofascial Release Therapy - MFR, it's worth considering an intensive programme. You will receive 2 or 3 hours of therapy over four or five days for two or three weeks.  This is a completely personalised programme and a life-changing experience. It can also be part of a retreat.


Please get in touch with me for more information and pricing on co-treatment and any of the intensives. 


I’ve found that releasing fascia is one of the biggest things that changed my health
and impacted how I feel. I would never have thought this would be a key link to my health.

 
Jane F, Cheltenham

John Barnes

Tom Myers

Richard Harty

J.C. Guimberteau

John Barnes

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