Treatment for fibromyalgia using myofascial release can be a very effective tool for fibromyalgia pain. When the fascia (a
membrane that covers muscles and tendons) remains tight and knotted for periods
of time, the fibro body actually adapts to this as it’s normal state of being.
Fibromyalgia is complex and although it affects multiple systems of the body, addressing the fascia is one area that many of will need to address.
Our goal in myofascial release is to create a ‘new normal’ where the body does not so easily hold onto tightness within the fascia; this allows the muscles, tendons, and other prone areas to relax in the way they normally would.
Remember that there are a few different tools we can use for the lumps and knotted areas that can occur with distorted fascia. Here, I focus on rolling which can be modified to your needs. However, you can refer to the video section of our fitness page, Fibro Fit People for more safe and effective tools for treating fascia.
Myofascial Release (MR) of tight, knotted muscles and tendons can be accomplished a few different ways .. However, for long term purposes and cost effectiveness in our treatment for fibromyalgia, it is essential that we learn how to incorporate MR on a regular basis at home.
If you have ever worked with a massage therapist or a certified Rolfer for myofascial release, you likely know the procedure and the body awareness that goes with this kind of bodywork. That is what makes this tool very effective and an important treatment for fibromyalgia for anyone living with fibromyalgia, certain types of arthritis and/or stiff body syndrome.
Myofascial Release will help to ‘loosen’ muscles and tendons while working to reduce levels of chronic long term pain and also creating a greater sense of well-being.
Just as we convey on the Mind Body Science page, our
interaction with the environment and especially with relationships cause emotions
to be stored throughout our body, often in our muscles. Myofascial release is just ONE part of treating symptoms in fibromyalgia.
It’s not unusual when undergoing treatment for fibromyalgia by a MR therapist or self-application for emotions to be released. It may feel strange, especially in the presence of someone else; but don’t fight it; let the emotions flow out of you. This is another reason that MR is such an effective treatment for fibromyalgia pain. The release of these stored emotions adds even greater benefit.
If you do not have access to a therapist or trainer like myself who can help you in myofascial release, then you can learn to use a foam roller at home, but please consider my suggestions throughout this article. Keep it safe and effective.
What follows are some of the techniques that I use for people with fibromyalgia. These can always be modified where necessary and not every body part will be a candidate for foam rolling, nor even every fibro person if too many perpetuating factors are present.
The adjacent picture shows a typical foam roller.
Gaiam is a good brand and there are many others. Foam Rollers come in different sizes and textures and I suggest experimenting with more than one.
Softer textures can be necessary for the more sensitive parts of the fibro body and in the beginning of using myofascial release.
For another tool in treating Myofascial Pain, you can check out the video section of the Fibro Fit People page, where I show modifications for using other tools to treat fascia in fibromyalgia.
(Note: A physical therapist or trainer with myofascial experience can be of great support to get you started. Just one or two sessions can be sure to exact proper form and follow through. Just be sure they have worked with fibromyalgia patients.)
1. Roll slowly and learn to stop and ‘hold’ when rolling over a tight, knotted area. Some therapists will tend to move too quickly, yet I believe with fibromyalgia we need to progress into the release more slowly and hold to get in touch with the release itself. Keep working at this, it doesn’t happen the first time.
2. Roll ‘up to’ the tender point areas but avoid getting directly on them in the beginning. I liken this to the reverse of using a rolling pin on dough .. instead of rolling from the mid-point to outer points, we ‘roll’ from the outer areas first to just inside the tender point area. Be sure to avoid rolling over joints. DO NOT roll over hips, knees, or around the back of the neck.
3. Just like with exercise, consistency is key. Foam rolling sessions can be utilized 2-4 times per week. Generally every other day or as needed. This way the body can have time to naturally adapt to the body work.
4. I recommend starting with the lower body when utilizing myofascial release, as the upper body may first benefit from myofascial 'massage' techniques done by a therapist. This allows the patient to work slowly into the feeling of myofascial release within those most sensitive areas of both trigger and tender points.
That’s How We Roll…..
1. First, getting a few sessions with a therapist or fitness trainer like myself is helpful to show technique and 'holds' in myofascial release. Be sure they have worked with fibromyalgia. Again, there will be some vulnerable areas of the fibro body that we may need to avoid, but learn to differentiate between fibro pain and muscle pain that will come from working through trigger points.
2. If during the rolling, there is a ‘hurt so good’ kind of pain but there is less pain AFTER the session. Yet remember, there may be slight tenderness afterwards, that is normal within reason.
3. If you release emotions during and after the session. This is very normal and in fact will verify the work done. Allow whatever emotions come up. This is intense, healing work for both mind and body. A feeling of ‘lightness’ is also common and beneficial and, again, verifies this treatment for fibromyalgia.
4. If you are willing to be patient through the moves and holds and know that even though it is painful, YOU are in total control and this is a healing kind of discomfort that will pay off in the long run.
Please follow on the fitness page, Fibro Fit People. In the video section of this page, you will find the EXERCISE section, and in there, I also show various tools I use for treating myofascial pain.
I talk throughout the website about what I call my MOP protocol.
This is basically using tools such as myofascial release to gain more mastery over our pain levels and symptoms.
During a rolling session, we are in control and that is a key component to success in levels of healing within any illness.
In other words, we must be an active participant in our healing process.
A massage or other body work done by a therapist is great, yet when we start to take control through this kind of work, we can then apply this discipline to other areas of our illness and our lives in general.
As I like to say ..”It’s not mind over matter ..no, it’s mind and body working together”.
Working for the greater good. Working to create a more resilient mind, body and spirit.