• Karen Charles

What is Myofascial Release?

How Myofascial Release in water helps free you from pain more effectively than on dry land


woman stretching underwater holding alarm clock myofascial release to target pain

It’s well known in physical therapy circles that myofascial release (or MFR) helps to improve muscle function. But did you know that MFR performed in water can make an even bigger difference in relieving acute pain, treating injuries and promoting relaxation?


Fascia can be described as a three-dimensional tissue-like structure that connects our muscles, bones, and organs: you could think of it as a kind of scaffolding under your skin that holds everything together. The science of fascia is still relatively new but it’s health and integrity are beginning to be recognised as a vital component in our overall wellbeing.


Fascia is designed to stretch as you move. But there are certain things that cause fascia to thicken and become rigid such as insufficient physical activity, repetitive movement that overworks one part of your body, or trauma such as surgery or injury. When fascia dries up and tightens around muscles, it can limit your mobility and cause painful knots to develop. Sometimes stiff joints and muscles are caused by stickiness in the fascia in a different part of your body – this is sometimes known as “referred pain”. Therefore our mobility, integrity, and resilience are determined in large part by how healthy our fascia is overall.


2020 and the “L” word


back view of woman holding her painful shoulder myofascial release targets pain

Anyone can benefit from a myofascial release session from a trained AquaStretch practitioner like me. Because anyone can suffer from pain and muscle tension, regardless of what you do for a living, your age, your overall physical health or how active you are.


For example this year’s lockdowns have seen millions of people forced to stay at home stuck in front of a PC or laptop for hours on end. They haven’t had the benefit of regular movement such as a daily commute, using public transport, walking around an office or even going to the canteen for lunch. In a recent survey from Workplace Insight over half of respondents reported new aches and pains, especially in the neck, shoulder and back, compared to their normal physical condition.


Clearly a sustained working from home habit is taking its toll.


8 Ways MFR in water helps reduce your aches and pains


Myofascial release is the action of applying gentle pressure and expertly focused and sustained stretching to certain points in your fascia. A skilled therapist will be able to identify the cause of your muscle pain and focus treatment where it will give you the most relief.


MFR is certainly possible on dry land, but when you combine it with the properties of water then the effects are significantly enhanced. During an AquaStretch session I use MFR techniques that can only be done in water to help your body move in ways that aren’t possible in any other environment.


woman floating on her back in water relaxing during myofascial release

Here’s why:


  1. Water takes your whole bodyweight: Even being in shallow water allows your whole body to float, you can just lie back while enjoying the grace and fluidity that comes with being totally supported

  2. Floating is relaxing: The gentle heat of the water is therapeutic and promotes a general sense of wellbeing

  3. You can move more freely: Water allows for a freedom of movement and whole-body mobilisation not possible on land

  4. You can move in three dimensions: Where else can you move your body in any range, direction and plane? You’ll be amazed at what your body can achieve in water!

  5. Water relieves joint pain: You’ll find that the stress on your joints and tension in your muscles is relieved by the buoyancy of the water

  6. Water supplies hydrostatic pressure: Your nerve endings are dulled by the constant resistance of the water which helps reduce pain and improve circulation

  7. MFR in water reduces lactic acid: That burning sensation your muscles get when they’re being overactive is significantly reduced

  8. MFR in water promotes detoxification: In a nutshell, MFR can also help deoxygenated blood cells reoxygenate which helps your muscles work better

Water has many, many well-known health benefits and I hope I’ve shown you how immersion in water plus the expert application of MFR can help relieve your aches and pains.


To find out more about MFR or about booking an AquaStretch session with me, please give me a call.