Fascia is a broad term that refers to the web of connective tissue that surrounds and supports the muscles, nerves, organs, and soft tissues in our entire body. The body’s natural inflammatory response due to injury or hypertrophy from a good workout can put pressure on the fascial system, causing pain and/or restricted movement. Some of the most common areas of fascial restriction are the tensor fascia latae in the hip, plantar fascia in the foot, and thoraco-lumbar fascia of the low back.
The Melt Method was developed by exercise physiologist Sue Hitzmann, and is a basic guide to self-myofacial release, while Rolfing was developed by Dr. Ida Rolf and is a "holistic system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education that organize(s) the whole body in gravity” (www.rolf.org), and can only be administered by trained manual therapists certified through the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration.
While each of these techniques vary slightly, they all work on the same basic premise of applying directional pressure to the fascia to alleviate tightness, allowing for greater range of motion. So why is fascial release important, and when/how often should you be doing it?
Simple foam rolling can be done at the end of a rigorous workout to help prevent delayed onset muscle soreness the next day, localized trigger point work with a tennis ball can be utilized to target specific areas of pain due to minor injuries or muscle strains, and more specialized manual therapy can help aid in recovery from more severe injuries and help break up scar tissue adhesions from surgery.
No matter how minor or severe the pain or injury, various fascial release techniques can be used to aid in recovery, and can be used as often as necessary. Everything in our body is connected and fascia is the internal fabric that helps keeps it that way, so it is important to take care of it!