Unique and specific techniques, like myofascial release, can greatly enhance the therapeutic benefit of your work on your clients, but when using them, it’s important to consider, and appropriately set, the client’s expectations for the session. Myofascial release is a wonderful way to create space for muscles to relax. Tension in muscles can sometimes be caused by the layer of membrane, called fascia, that surrounds the muscle group, which can be adhesed or dehydrated, preventing the muscles from moving freely.
If you have someone with an old sports injury or who has recently undergone surgery, or just somebody where it feels like their muscles are bound up and barely have any room to move, that’s a good indication that the top layer of the musculoskeletal system may need some stretching to give the muscles room to expand. So, myofascial can be a wonderful way to start a massage to make sure that the rest of the work will have the most beneficial impact.
One time, though, I had a massage therapist who started using myofascial release on me as the very first technique in our massage session and proceeded to do it for close to 30 minutes, which was a full half of the session. I found that very unusual because myofascial usually doesn’t involve any oil or lotion, and most of the time, someone’s applying oil or lotion within the first few minutes of a session.
If someone comes in and their main complaint is stress or a busy life, and they’d really just love to have an hour to relax into a nice Swedish experience, they’re going think it’s weird that for half their massage there isn’t even any oil or lotion being used and you’re just pulling on the top layer of their skin. It’s about the context, and it’s about your intent as well as your client’s goals. It’s important to remember that if you’re going to start off and do a lot of myofascial work, which might be the right thing to do, you need to be sure to tell your client why. Consider the typical experience your client may have had before in massage, and clearly dialogue through it.