Pain is an unavoidable part of life, but it doesn’t have to be chronic. Myofascial release creams and oils are a natural way to relieve pain without the use of medication or surgery. These products use ingredients like essential oils and herbs that work together to target the source of your discomfort and reduce inflammation. In addition to that, they can relax tense muscles and improve circulation for long-lasting relief from chronic aches or acute injuries. Whether you’re dealing with backaches, headaches, joint pain or soreness due to exercise, myofascial release creams and oils may provide safe relief for your body’s ailments. That said, the effectiveness of these products may vary from person to person. If you’re unsure if myofascial release creams and oils are right for you, read on. We’ll be exploring how these products work, the potential benefits and considerations to keep in mind before trying them.
What’s In Myofascial Release Creams And Oils?
Myofascial release creams and oils are loaded with natural ingredients that work synergistically to reduce pain. Common components include:
- Essential oils, such as camphor, peppermint or eucalyptus oil. These are often combined with carrier oils like jojoba and almond oil to reduce their concentration and make them safe for use. Essential oils can help reduce inflammation, increase circulation and improve mood (14).
- Menthol or capsaicin provide a cooling or warming sensation, respectively. This can help relax tense muscles and improve circulation (17) (25).
- Arnica, an herb that has anti-inflammatory properties (6). It’s often found in topical creams and ointments.
- Boswellia, a tree extract that has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to reduce pain and inflammation (9).
- ILEX (Holly Extract), a plant extract that has been shown to reduce inflammation and decrease pain (20).
- CBD, which is a compound found in cannabis that may help reduce chronic pain and inflammation (10).
What Does Science Say About Myofascial Release Creams And Oils?
The effectiveness of myofascial release creams and oils is largely anecdotal, however there are some studies that suggest they can offer relief from pain.
Additionally, various essential oils have been found to increase circulation and reduce inflammation (5). For instance, eucalyptus oil was shown to significantly reduce inflammation when applied topically (16).
What Are The Benefits Of Myofascial Release Creams And Oils?
Myofascial release creams and oils may provide a number of benefits, including:
Relief From Pain And Stiffness
These products may help relax tense muscles and reduce inflammation to provide relief from muscle aches or joint pain.
Increased circulation may help transport oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, aiding in healing.
Certain essential oils may help calm your mind and reduce stress levels, resulting in a more relaxed state (15).
Are Myofascial Release Creams And Oils Safe?
Myofascial release creams and oils are a safe and natural way to relieve aches and pains, but there are some considerations to keep in mind before trying them.
- Always read the label carefully, as some products may include ingredients that you’re allergic to.
- Consult with your doctor or healthcare professional if you’re pregnant, nursing or taking any prescription medications before using these products.
- Test a small area of your skin first to make sure you don’t have an adverse reaction.
- Avoid getting the product in your eyes or mouth.
- When using essential oils, always dilute them with a carrier oil to reduce their concentration.
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What Should You Know About Myofascial Release Therapy?
Massage techniques that use myofascial release (MFR) target the connective tissue of the body, known as fascia (11). By using gentle pressure and stretching techniques, practitioners attempt to release muscle tension and help restore balance within the body.
MFR has several distinguishing features that make it unique from other forms of massage. For instance:
- It is not centered around specific muscles, but instead focuses on the fascia that supports and connects them.
- MFR is a slow, gentle form of massage. This allows for greater precision and more time to assess changes in the soft tissues as treatment progresses.
- MFR is often done without the use of lubricants or massage oils, as they can interfere with the practitioner’s ability to monitor the tissue’s response to treatment.
- MFR focuses on relieving pain and restoring range of motion, instead of simply trying to relax the patient.
- MFR can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including chronic pain, muscle spasms, headaches and tension, as well as scar tissue and adhesions. It can also help to improve posture, flexibility, and joint mobility.
What Exactly Is Fascia, And Why Is It Important?
The “myo” in myofascial refers to the muscle and “fascia” refers to the connective tissue. Fascia is a type of connective tissue that surrounds and supports the muscles in the body (2). Think of your body’s fascia as a continuous web that holds together our various structures and organs.
When it is healthy, the fascia provides support for our muscles and other tissue, allowing us to move more freely (2).
Fascia is made up of three layers: the superficial fascia, which is closest to the skin; the deep fascia, which lies beneath and supports muscles; and finally, the subserous fascia, which is the deepest layer and acts as a protective barrier (3).
Each layer of fascia is comprised of collagen, elastin and other proteins, which form a network of fibers much like a spider’s web.
What Triggers Myofascial Pain?
- Trauma or injury: when physical trauma, such as a fall or blow to the body occurs, it can cause scar tissue and adhesions in the fascia. This can result in pain and limited range of motion.
- Posture: poor posture, such as slouching or sitting for an extended period of time, can cause tension in the muscles and fascia.
- Repetitive motion: any repetitive motion such as typing or running can lead to myofascial pain.
- Stress: stress can lead to tight muscles, which can cause tension in the fascia.
- Inactivity: not getting enough exercise can cause muscles to become weak and lead to pain in the fascia.
The signs of myofascial pain include:
- Aching or burning sensations in the muscles.
- Tightness and stiffness of the affected muscle.
- Difficulty with moving the affected area.
- Pain when pressure is applied to a specific area or trigger point.
When left untreated, myofascial pain can lead to further health complications, including chronic pain, headaches and fatigue (22). Some conditions, such as fibromyalgia, are thought to be related to myofascial pain.
Myofascial Release Therapy can help reduce pain and restore range of motion by targeting the fascia and releasing tightness (7). This can be done through various techniques, such as stretching, kneading, and using specific tools such as foam rollers.
In doing so, practitioners aim to release the tension in the fascia and help restore balance in the body.
How Does Myofascial Release Therapy Work?
Myofascial Release Therapy (MFR) supports the Piezoelectric Phenomenon, which is the ability of our body’s tissues to generate small electrical current when they are compressed (8).
Unlike skin and muscle, the fascia is not as responsive to touch.
However, through MFR, practitioners can apply the right amount of pressure on the affected area and activate the Piezoelectric Phenomenon to create an electrical current that helps release the tightness in the fascia.
MFR also works by utilizing techniques like compression, traction, and stretching. These techniques help to release tension in the fascia and allow the muscles to relax.
Time under tension is an important concept in myofascial release. This means that practitioners apply pressure and hold it for a period of time in order to create the change needed in the fascia.
The length of time can vary depending on the area being worked on, but generally, it is longer than with other massage techniques.
Can You Do Myofascial Release On Yourself?
Yes, self-myofascial release (SMFR) is a method that can be used by anyone to help release tension in the fascia. SMFR involves utilizing tools such as foam rollers and massage balls to apply pressure on the affected area (12) (13).
While there’s scanty evidence to prove self-myofascial release is as effective as hands-on myofascial release performed by a practitioner, knowing the basics of self-myofascial release is still beneficial.
SMFR can help you gain knowledge and awareness of your body. Additionally, it can help you address tightness, soreness, and other aches before they become a more serious issue.
The goal of SMFR is to find trigger points and apply pressure for a short period of time. To effectively do self-myofascial release, it is important to:
- Use the correct tools; most common are foam rollers, massage balls, and lacrosse balls.
- Apply pressure on the affected area for 10 to 30 seconds.
- Be aware of the pain; since you are the one in control, it is important to be aware of your limits and back off if it becomes too painful.
- Breathe; take deep breaths to help relax the muscles while applying pressure.
- Be patient; it may take some time to find the cause of the issue and to release tightness in the muscles.
How To Use Myofascial Release Therapy Creams And Oils While Doing Self-Myofascial Release
Traditional MFR techniques do not recommend the use of creams and oils. The reason for this is that the therapist needs to be able to feel the tension in the muscle and fascia in order to apply pressure correctly.
A similar concept applies while performing SMFR, you need to be able to feel the tension and pressure in order to effectively release it.
That’s not to say that these anti-inflammatory oils and creams are completely useless. Rather, they can help to reduce inflammation when applied after the massage. This can help to alleviate pain and discomfort caused by the MFR treatment, as well as aid in faster recovery.
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Myofascial Release Therapy is a powerful tool to help alleviate pain, discomfort and tightness in the body. However, it’s important to understand that it is not a standalone solution. In order to achieve lasting results, other interventions are necessary for optimal health
- Adopting a more active lifestyle: Exercise helps to increase blood flow, which is important for healthy tissue.
- Getting adequate rest: Proper sleep helps the body heal and recover from physical activity (21).
- Eating a balanced diet: Eating whole, unprocessed foods can help to reduce inflammation and promote healing (4).
- Incorporating stress management techniques: Stress can exacerbate pain and discomfort in the body (19). Therefore, it is important to find healthy ways to reduce stress.
The Bottom Line
Myofascial release is a type of massage therapy that can help to reduce tightness, pain, and discomfort in the muscles and fascia. While it is often performed by a practitioner, self-myofascial release can be done at home as well.
When combined with the use of creams and oils, self-myofascial release can be an effective way to reduce inflammation and aid in faster recovery.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
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