Neurofascial Release is a type of Osteopathic manipulation which was developed by Stephen Myles Davidson, D.O. in 1987. It is a type of light touch bodywork which works at the level of the fascia and can be useful in treatment for neck and back pain as well as many other disorders. Because few other modalities work at this level, Neurofascial Release is often helpful in relieving problems that “just won’t go away” with any other treatment.
Fascia is connective tissue in the body — it surrounds and permeates all the organs and structures of our bodies, holds things in place and gives us form, strength and support. We can imagine ourselves wearing a bodysuit of fascia. Problems arise when there are twists or pulls in the fascia caused by trauma or poor posture. These strains can put pressure on other structures which inhibits movement or function or causes pain. The problems are seldom relieved until the fascial strain is released. This is often seen with accident patients that still have pain even though everything seems in place, many of these patients that get discharged with pain killers and little hope could benefit greatly from Neurofascial Release.
Strangely enough, not all strain patterns are from pulls and twists in the fascia. Often bodywork practitioners speak of body memories, these are often emotional “patterns” that comes from traumatic experiences and register on the connective tissue. Sometimes patients will have an emotional release as they receive bodywork because their body is letting go of those memories. Many psychologists and counselors recommend that their patients get some kind of bodywork because letting go of the body memories is often necessary to the emotional healing. These emotional patterns can be addressed through Neurofascial Release.
Neurofascial Release is accomplished by accessing the strain pattern and then putting very light pressure on a “release point,” and then letting the strain unwind. It is the patient’s body that actually does the work of releasing the strain pattern. Because of this, it often appears as if the practitioner were doing nothing, or perhaps some kind of energy work. The skill in this technique comes from the years of practice needed to develop the palpation skills required to feel the subtle patterns in the body and to find the release points. The technique is not painful, and most patients find it very pleasant and relaxing to be treated. Soreness can be a side effect because release of fascial strains can allow movement of bones and other tissues. This is a good sign that seldom lasts more than one day, a reminder of how powerful the technique is.
This non-forceful technique is wonderful because it addresses the source of many problems and lets the body heal itself. It is appropriate for patients of all ages and conditions.