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Health Benefits of Myofascial Release (Skin Rolling)

If you feel somewhat brittle and easily predisposed to suffering from strains and sprains, I encourage you to visit a health practitioner who provides myofascial release treatment.

Myofascial release, also called "skin rolling," is often provided along with other treatments like massage, stretching, and joint mobilisation and manipulation. The vast majority of registered massage therapists, chiropractors, naturopathic physicians, and osteopathic physicians have training with myofascial release.

The goal with myofascial release is to promote healthy superficial fascia, which is a layer of connective tissue that lies between your skin and your muscles.

Over time, sub-optimal food choices, lack of optimal rest and activity, and emotional stress can contribute to a buildup of metabolic waste throughout your body's superficial fascia. When this happens, your superficial fascia can develop restrictions that impede proper flow of nutrients and waste products between your skin, fascia, and muscles. This state can predispose your muscles and even underlying ligaments to strains and sprains.

Myofascial release is quite simple to perform. The best way to get the hang of it is to have the person receiving treatment lie face down (back uncovered), to use the soft pads of your thumbs and fingers to gently pick up and hold a roll of skin near the base of the spine, then to slowly roll up the spine, lifting the skin up and away from the underlying tissue at every level of the spine.

If you do this right, your thumbs and fingers will never be without a good roll of skin. And when doing it over the spine, it's best to have your right and left hands on corresponding sides of the bony protuberances of the spine.

You can use this skin rolling technique to ensure healthy superficial fascia throughout the body, though my experience has been that most people tend to have the most significant restrictions around the spine and rib cage, particularly up around the top of the spine near the shoulder shawl muscles.

As you roll the skin and the superficial fascia below, the person receiving treatment should be able to tell you whenever pain arises. Sometimes, pain will correspond with an obvious physical restriction. Whether you feel a restriction or not, gentle kneading of the skin and fascia in the area of pain can help release the area. Depending on the severity of restrictions in the superficial fascia, several treatments over a period of a few weeks may be required to restore healthy flow between skin, superficial fascia, and muscles and ligaments.

If myofascial release is of interest to you, I encourage you to visit a health practitioner who provides it so that you can experience it firsthand. It's ideal to receive this type of treatment along with other manual therapies that promote optimal blood supply to your muscles, ligaments, and joints.

If you have any questions about myofascial release or you have experiences with this type of treatment that you'd like to share with others, please use the comments section below. Thank you.

Relevant Anatomy and Physiology

  • Generally, we use the term "soft tissue injury" to refer to muscular strains or ligamentous sprains.

  • Muscles and ligaments surround and provide stability to all of the joints in your body. The main difference between these soft tissues is that muscles allow you to move your joints, while ligaments prevent your joints from dislocating.

  • When your muscles or ligaments are overstretched or torn, your body creates inflammation to allow the damaged tissue(s) to heal.

    In some cases, overstretching or tearing occurs not because your muscles or ligaments have been stretched beyond their natural limits, but because restrictions in your superficial fascia are preventing proper movement and flow between your skin, muscles, and ligaments. In such cases, myofasical release is essential to restoring optimal physical health.


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This blog post makes me what to ask about a condition that I've recently developed and am realizing many friends suffer from: Dupuytren's Contracture.

I regularly do yoga, eat well, maintain good physical shape, and receive TCM treatment--try to stay in good health. I'm 50, and suddenly have a thickening in both my hand and my foot, and it makes my yoga practice uncomfortable.

Any advice from anyone on holistic and natural treatments would be most appreciated!

You should rule out any unseen infections or inflammations, like food allergies, parasites or focal infection from root canaled teeth. Although there is a genetic predisposition for DC it is often precipitated by an system that is too acidic, has too many free radicals and oxidative stress or too many circulating antigen/antibody complexes to deal with from improper clearing from the liver. After adjusting the above I would then add in a systemic digestive enzyme like Neprinol to start dissolving the scar like tissue in DC.

Clinton's response is a good one. DC often results from emotional and environmental stresses, which raise the acidity of the body. The kind of tissue your body lays down -- whether it's fibrous scar tissue or supple muscle -- is directly pH related. Combine scar tissue with an overactive sympathetic nervous system from life's stresses, and you are set up beautifully for a condition like DC. Stress management, alkalizing foods, improved sleep habits, and a good probiotic supplement should make some improvements.

Dan DeFigio
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Nashville, TN

I would also like know more about this disease, as I have it in my index finger and have had 2 operations 1st lasted for only 6 months the second 5 years and unfortunately is starting to pull in again and can be quite painful. have also on both feet this can be remedies by pressure massage, I have been able to control these by my chiropractor with regular ultrasound and massages to break down the fibres and it has been working, but unfortunately this will never go away, I am 62 and have had these the past 15 to 20 years if there is a remedy I would love to know about it as will as am consider another operation to straighten the finger. Good luck

One thing that seems to help me is acupuncture.

cold laser works well. I use this on myself and it really softens the tendons. Ask if your acupuncturist has a quality cold laser.

A foam roller for runners is great for myofacial release. I use it often. It is a lot cheaper than paying for a professional massage.

I also use a foam roller to perform self-myofascial release. I use it primarily before I exercise and it really has helped my performance. It is especially effective on the outer quads ("IT-Band") and glutes. I also love to use a golf ball on my feet.

I visited a Rolfing Practitioner in my Community last year and had the 10 series that are recommended. The benefits were tremendous and included better posture and flexibility, release of pain in legs and feet, and an overall feeling of well being that I maintained for many month. In fact, after the 10 treatments were completed the integration of new patterns continued to improve my health. I have just recently been back for another treatment, again with immediate and lasting results.
The procedure is also called "Structural Integration" and I urge anyone to check out the following links to learn more:

International Association of Structural Integrators

Guild of Structural Integration

-Rolf Institute of Structural Integration

Trigger Point Needling comes to mind. Also search for trigger finger, or joints and see what pops up. Good luck with things. Stretching the fingers, hand, wrist and forearm will go a long way too!

Yes, it's true! You can absolutely help certain types of vexing wrinkles using this technique! I was a massage therapist (trained at the Colorado School of Healing Arts class of 2002) for 11 years and after retiring, I found myself in need of a treatment to help rid my face of a very nasty wrinkle between my eyebrows. It was there for about 6 months and after trying potions and creams and even various basic massage techniques that work well for the body but not as much for wrinkles,I finally recalled how well this technique works for breaking up an adhesion. So, with very careful lifting and rolling of the delicate skin, I heard and felt the pop" that indicates an adhesion has been broken up! I gave it few minutes before I looked in a mirror(i wasn't convinced that it would work that well-at first)and much to my pleasure I saw that the mean little thing had COMPLETELY vanished!! I'm not saying it could work for laugh lines or crow's feet, but I can say with 100% certainty that it is worth trying for wrinkles between the eyebrows! I believe it is most effective in facial massage if performed over bony surfaces like the forehead...give it a try. It might just help you too. Peace to all and have a blessed day!