Myofascial release is a form of soft tissue therapy used to treat somatic dysfunction and accompanying pain and restriction of motion. This is accomplished by relaxing contracted muscles, increasing circulation, increasing venous and lymphatic drainage, and stimulating the stretch reflex of muscles and overlying fascia.
Fascia is the soft tissue component of the connective tissue that provides support and protection for most structures within the human body, including muscle. This soft tissue can become restricted due to psychogenic disease, overuse, trauma, infectious agents, or inactivity, often resulting in pain, muscle tension, and corresponding diminished blood flow.
As in most tissue, irritation of fascia or muscle causes local inflammation. Chronic inflammation results in thickening of the connective tissue, and this thickening causes pain and irritation, resulting in reflexive muscle tension that causes more inflammation. In this way, the cycle creates a positive feedback loop and can result in lack of blood flow and dysfunction even in the absence of the original offending agent. Myofascial techniques aims to break this cycle through a variety of methods acting on multiple stages of the cycle.