Recently, I had a patient tell me about a practice that is very widespread amongst manual therapists and fitness professionals… the use of a foam roller to “roll out” tight muscles or fascia. In the case of this specific patient, she was advised to roll out her tight quads using a rolling pin. This advice precipitated a series of events, leading her to attend the hospital for significant pain management assistance.
My philosophy has always been that PAIN is never a condition of healing. When the body experiences pain, it should be an automatic PAUSE to determine if whatever is causing the pain should be modified, stopped or examined further. When the body is experiencing pain, many systems become involved to protect the body from experiencing further pain or damage. So, why would we ever use pain to HEAL? Pain should be a clear signal to stop and re-evaluate.
All that aside, the theory behind rolling is to break apart adhesions in the soft tissue that may be inhibiting proper movement and gliding of the tissues. Here at Thrive, we use a variety of myofascial release techniques to do the same thing, in a more gentler fashion. If you ask any of our patients, they would confirm this and add that treatment is occasionally relaxing enough to put them to sleep, and yet effective, without causing pain.
Take a moment to watch this amazing video by Gil Hedley, a modern day anatomist. In this video, he is talking about “fuzz”, which is what prevents the soft tissue from moving with ease and fluidity. (NOTE: Not for the squeamish, as a cadaver is used for demonstration)
So, next time you are getting an Osteopathic treatment and wondering what the heck we are doing “just holding you”, visualize how we are releasing this “fuzz”. You will begin to feel the subtle release of treatment, and along with this release, you will feel a relief of your pain and a change in your nervous system as you will actually be changing neural circuitry……. (more on that in a later post!)
~ Kathy Leung Degen, Registered Physiotherapist, Osteopathic Manual Practitioner
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