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Myofascial Release Vs. Massage Therapy: What’s the Difference?

March 8th, 2024

Myofascial release and massage therapy treatment are both hands-on therapies that can be beneficial for a variety of conditions. However, there are some key differences between the two approaches. Here’s what you need to know when considering a treatment that’s best for you.

What’s Myofascial Release?

Myofascial release (MFR) focuses on releasing tension and restrictions in and around the fascia, the connective tissue that surrounds and supports muscles, organs and other structures in the body. MFR therapists use gentle, sustained pressure to stretch and release the fascia, which can help improve range of motion, reduce pain and improve overall function. Typically no oil or lotion is used. 

Who Can Benefit from Myofascial Release?

MFR can be beneficial for people of all ages and fitness levels, but it’s especially helpful for those who experience:

  • Chronic pain
  • Muscle tension and spasms
  • Headaches
  • Back pain and neck pain
  • Sports injuries
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Range of motion limitations
  • Post-surgical pain and scars 

What’s Massage Therapy?

Massage therapy is a broad term that encompasses a variety of different techniques, all of which involve the manipulation of soft tissues in the body. Registered massage therapists (RMTs) use their hands, elbows, knees and forearms to apply pressure to the muscles, tendons and ligaments. This can help to improve circulation, reduce muscle tension, reduce knots and promote relaxation. Massage therapy typically uses oil or lotion and can be very light and relaxing or quite strong with lots of pressure depending on what the patient prefers. 

Who Can Benefit from Massage Therapy?

Massage therapy treatment can be beneficial for a variety of conditions, including:

  • Back pain and neck pain
  • Stress and anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Sports injuries
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Insomnia
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Whiplash
  • Pregnancy

Differences Between Myofascial Release and Massage Therapy

Here are some of the key differences between MFR and massage therapy:

  • Focus. MFR focuses on releasing tension and restrictions of the fascia, while massage therapy has a broader focus on promoting relaxation and improving function.

  • Technique. MFR therapists use gentle, sustained pressure to stretch and release the fascia, while massage therapists use a variety of different techniques, including kneading, stroking and tapping.

Our therapist at Legacies are trained in both MFR and massage therapy. Often they will incorporate both forms of treatment into a treatment designed just for you. 

Myofascial Release and Massage Therapy Treatment in Metro Vancouver

At Legacies Health Centre, we provide massage therapy and myofascial release treatments by qualified and experienced registered massage therapists. We direct bill most extended health plans. Contact us today to find a Legacies Health Centre near you and book an appointment. We have locations in North Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey Southpoint and Surrey Nordel.

James Brise | RMT

Since becoming a Registered Massage Therapist in 2005 James has had the opportunity to work alongside and learn from many different health care professionals. As a result of all this, James has a unique perspective and a highly effective treatment style. He also has an ever-growing body of knowledge to draw from to expedite your recovery or ideally to prevent injury.

James has experience working at various sporting events such as the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships, Historic Half Marathon, Vancouver International Marathon, and pre-game treatments for the BC Lions.