top of page

Marble cake and wine tasting aka myofascial release

This month I attended a course on Myofascial Release by John Annan who is also a Chartered Physiotherapist but solely on humans. I spent with weekend with likeminded veterinary physiotherapists at Hartpury College learning new manual techniques, originating from human practice and applying these skills to the veterinary physio world.

So what is myofascia? Basically its to scaffolding that holds everything together in the body - its wrapped around muscles, bones, ligaments etc and connects every cell in the body to each other (its the white sheets of film you find in steak and the thin bluey coating that covers chicken legs). It runs through the body like the chocolate swirls in marbel cake in a complex mesh that connects everything together.

So why is this important? In physio terms this means that you can treat one part of the body to have an effect on the other - so performing a technique on the lower back can make improvements on knee range of movement. For example if your dog is consistently off-loading a hindlimb due to pain this creates an abnormal force through their abdominals and spine, creating tension and spasm and the familiar compensatory muscular soreness I see daily. We can treat the hindlimb issue but to get maximum recovery we need to address these issues as well, as your dog will never fully load that limb again until this inequilibrium is corrected. The muscles involved are normally very deep and not easy to access by normal palpation or manual techniques which is where myofascial release comes into its own.

The technique involves "warming it up and giving it a stir". In a darkened room we were asked to place our relaxed hands on our models lower back and wait...for 2 long allow the thermal effect of our hands to make the tissues underneath become more fluid (like warming up and stirring cold custard). In order to feel this change you need to concentrate very specifially on what your hands are feeling. This was likened to a course in wine tasting, rather than just drinking it as we normally do you are told to suck air through the wine to highten your taste buds senses and focus on everything, smell, body, afternotes (I am not a wine tasting expert I admit). The same goes for feeling fascia, all attention is put to what your hands are feeling, and you can actually feel your hands slowly sink through the superficial layers and the tissue underneath become more fluid and mobile. It was at this point where I had a bit of an opiphamy moment - as I gently tried to stretch the tissue I could feel the fascia gently gliding, not just in the straight line in the direction of my pressure as I had expected but also in circular movements and waves. Not what I expected at all! This shows how multi-directional the myofascia is, and how intricate its scaffolding is.

We were then taught lots of techniques to treat limbs specifically, spinal muscular spasm and even piriformis spasm (this got my attention for all those agility goers who know how problematic this muscle can be). I went home feeling like I had spent a weekend in a spa, not a training course!

So bringing it back to my canine patients, I feel this technique really does have its place, be it for the chronic arthritic dog who has compensated for years and gets problem after problem ending up in a downward spiral, to the athletic agility dog who needs to maintain optimum flexibility and posture to prevent injuries from building up. It won't work for all dogs - mainly because they need to be able to lie relatively still for a few minutes at a time, but I am very excited to start these technqiues on a few of my current patients and see the effects.

It's another string to my bow which I think will be really useful for my canine patients. I will keep you updated with the results!

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
No tags yet.
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page