The Yogini from Manila

Experiencing myofascial release at Polarity Physiotherapy Center

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Providence truly happens at just the right time and the Universe showed me just how much it listens and arranges things.

I had received an email out of the blue from Polarity Physiotherapy Center (I found out later that they had just googled and found my blog!) with an invitation to try one of their therapeutic services – myofascial release. Of course, that term made me sit up. My yin yoga practice works with the fascia, among others.

Polarity Physiotherapy Center

But first, I needed to know more about this therapy, so off to Google Search I went. Here is what I found from the Myofascial Release UK site:

Myofascial Release is a specialised physical and manual therapy used for the effective treatment and rehabilitation of soft tissue and fascial tension and restrictions.

‘Myo’ means muscle and ‘fascia’ means band. Fascia, an embryological connective tissue, is a 3D continuous web of elastin and collagen fibres surrounded by a viscous fluid called the ground substance. These two fibre types allow it to be very strong yet have a high degree of flexibility whilst the ground substance is a fluid transportation medium and acts a slide and glide mechanism between structures.

Myofascia (a photo from the Anatomy Trains book by Thomas Myers)

Myofascia (a photo from the Anatomy Trains book by Thomas Myers)

Then again, another site Healthline, spoke about myofascial release and this was what caught my eye (bold emphasis is mine):

Myofascial release is a type of physical therapy often used to treat myofascial pain syndrome. Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain disorder caused by sensitivity and tightness in your myofascial tissues. These tissues surround and support the muscles throughout your body. The pain usually originates from specific points within your myofascial tissues called “trigger points.”

Myofascial release focuses on reducing pain by easing the tension and tightness in the trigger points. It’s not always easy to understand what trigger point is responsible for the pain. Localizing pain to a specific trigger point is very difficult. For that reason, myofascial release is often used over a broad area of muscle and tissue rather than at single points.

Pain….reduction of pain…. these words just popped up as I read about myofascial release. I thought to myself..hey, this might be what I need to try!

You see, I had been having problems with pain in my shoulders, more so, my right shoulder. Because of my heavy schedule and media events, I was often mobile. As a result,  I carried my gadgets around almost all the time so I could do some work in between events. That meant carrying a heavy laptop bag that hung from my right shoulder. I assumed this was the cause of my shoulder pain. I went a few times to a spa for a body massage that focused on my back and shoulders. It would bring temporary relief but did not really help much. The pain would return after a while. In my yin yoga practice, I am able to address tightness in certain body areas through specific yin asanas. I can also perform massage or meridian point pressure on areas I can reach. But there are areas beyond my reach — my shoulders and back. This needed intervention from another source.

I was eager to see what a session with Polarity Physiotherapy Center could do to help me.

I arrived around 4:30pm. My first impression — the receiving area was very inviting. The decor was minimalist, white walls, and accented all throughout by warm discreet lighting. There were several different private rooms at Polarity to allow them to attend to several clients at one time. One entire corridor wall leading to some of the rooms was filled with framed photographs; each room also had walls accented with photos. As it turned out, these were pictures actually taken by the owner who is a photography buff! Interested? They are for sale!

Receiving area 1

 

Receiving area 2

The first thing I had to do was fill out an information form/waiver that asked for my medical history as well as any conditions I wanted addressed during my session. My physiotherapist, Quiolo Angeles, went through the form with me to clarify what I was feeling. I told him about my shoulder pain.

Most of the private rooms followed the same minimalistic look as the receiving area — a bed, a stool for the physiotherapist, and a table for most. A deluxe room had more amenities – its own restroom, an armchair with a side table with a lamp, and an LED TV so you could watch movies. Clients who use this room are usually those who avail of several different services and need to rest afterwards.

One of the larger rooms that came with its own restroom, an armchair...

One of the larger rooms that came with its own restroom, a sitting area…

 

...and its own LED TV so the client could watch movies while undergoing therapy.

…and its own LED TV so the client could watch movies.

At Polarity, every client gets a posture assessment first. Quiolo made me stand the way I normally do. As I suspected, my daily work as a social media person who works from my laptop most of the day showed very clearly in the assessment. I had a forward head posture with shoulders rolled forward. Quiolo said this was typical of someone who hunches forward most of the time (that’s me!!!). As a result, he said my back muscles are short and strong because these have to support and hold my head from falling. Conversely, that meant that my front muscles were weak so these need to be strengthened. Since my abdominals are also weak, there is a tendency also for my pelvis to roll forward (see Figure 1 below).

Good posture_bad posture

Figure 1. Good posture vs bad posture

Let me tell you a bit more about this, which has come to be known as HOLS or Hunched Over Laptop Syndrome (yes, there is such a term for this condition!).

Our head weighs between 8-12 pounds or an average of 10 pounds. Because of technology, a lot of us are always looking at our smartphones, tablets, laptops (see Figure 2). Unfortunately, we are not always conscious about ergonomics.

How looking at a smartphone affects body posture

Figure 2. How looking at a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) or smartphone affects body posture

In this article, How Heavy Is Your Head?, a medical researcher, Dr. Rene Calliet, MD, says that with every inch forward  by the head, it adds another 10 pounds of weight that the neck and shoulder muscles must carry.  So imagine, if we arch 2 inches forward, we are bringing 20 more pounds of weight to our shoulder and back muscles! Now I realize that beyond just carrying my gadgets around, my own posture also contributed to the added weight borne by my neck and shoulder muscles!!!

 

Releasing shoulder tightness and tension

Pressing meridian points to release shoulder tightness

Do not expect a massage where you will be kneaded from head to toe. Based on the pain you experience, the physiotherapist will focus on the so-called pain trigger points and press deep down into them with thumbs or elbows. This pressure, when held down for a long time, acts on the tightness in the area. When the pressure is removed, you will feel a release of the tightness.

Targeting IT band

Working on a meridian point. Therapist does not knead the area. Instead he applies pressure at the pain trigger point, holds it there for several seconds, then releases. Note that the elbow is more effective than a thumb in these areas.

 

Working side and shoulder muscles

Manual therapy for shoulder pain, flexing lower back to release tightness and back pain

 

Working on back muscles

Working the back muscles

I felt so good during and after my session!!! In addition, Quiolo gave me exercises to do daily at home: 1) to correct my forward head posture; 2) to release lower back tightness and increase leg strengthening; and 3) front muscle strengthening exercises using a stretchable band that one can buy from a sports store.

I next did a short tour of Polarity’s other facilities because beyond myofascial release and manual physiotherapy sessions, they also offer functional training, physical rehabilitation, and even yoga.

Gym

Gym – It includes parallel bars for walking therapy as well as a raised bed for physical therapy

At the back is an area also for yoga classes or other dance classes that the center may choose to offer.

If you’re wondering what happened to my pain….all I can say is….be patient! My shoulder pain diminished right after the therapy session but some of it remained. I thought about going back to Polarity for another session but decided to wait it out. Apparently, it needed some time to take effect because in the days after, I realized that the pain slowly became less and less till it was gone. I think my home therapy exercises helped too. I was without shoulder pain for several weeks!

Of course, lifestyle and habits can make the pain recur so don’t expect one Polarity session to deal with your pain permanently. Many will have to keep going back to really reap the benefits of myofascial release. Also, doing the take-home therapy exercises judiciously should help correct bad posture.

 

With the Polarity team

Thank you, Quiolo. Thank you, Polarity team!

Whether you are an athlete, a senior, a very active person, or just one who has a lifestyle like mine in front of a computer all day, Polarity Physiotherapy Center can take care of you. Here is a list of their treatments and services:

• Neck Pain
• Shoulder, Elbow and Hand Pain
• Back Pain
• Hip Pain
• Knee Pain
• Foot Pain
• Sprains and Strains
• Arthritis
• Posture– related Problems
• Post– operative conditioning and rehabilitation
• Tight Muscles/ Tension
• Body pain
• Migraines and Tension Headaches
• Pinched Nerves
• Scoliosis
• Muscle weakness and spasms
• Work– related injuries and conditions
• Sports injuries
• Specific training and conditioning
• Functional Training
• Corrective exercises
• General body conditioning and improvement of wellness

You can find Polarity Physiotherapy Center here:

#47 Examiner Street, Brgy. West Triangle, Quezon City
Tel. (02) 799-2700 / Mobile +63977 692 1380; +63943 658 4890
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/PolarityPhysiotherapyCenter

 

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