Updated: 2022, Sep 26

Myofascial Release vs Massage: Which Do You Need?

Massage works with soft tissue and the overall system of muscles in the body to relieve stress and tension. Myofascial release works specifically with the connective tissue (fascia) to relieve the tightness that causes muscle restrictions.

Myofascial release (MFR) and massage are two popular methods of soft tissue therapy that have many overlapping benefits. Both techniques reduce stress, ease pain, and improve blood flow, circulation, flexibility, strength, balance, range of motion and posture. However, there are some key differences between myofascial release vs massage that you should know before deciding which treatment is right for you.

Myofascial Release vs Massage: Which Do You Need?
Understand the Difference Between Massage & Myofascial Release. Image/Shutterstock

These complementary therapies manipulate the layers of connective tissues in the body known as fascia to relieve muscle strain and increase blood flow to those areas. While both techniques can relieve aches and pains, they differ in effects.

What is Myofascial Release?

Myofascial release is a soft tissue therapy that uses gentle pressure, stretching, and other techniques to increase blood flow to the fascia—the connective tissue surrounding your muscles. You’ll find nerves, blood vessels in the fascia, and more. Over time, the fascia gets stiff and less flexible, which can lead to pain and even sprains and tears.

Myofascial release can help reduce pain, improve blood flow and flexibility, and increase range of motion. It also can help relieve headaches, reduce anxiety and stress, and improve posture. You can have myofascial release done by a massage therapist or a health care provider specializing in soft tissue manipulation.

Myofascial Release Techniques

Read on to learn more about myofascial release techniques for pain relief, including examples from each of three primary types:

  • SMR techniques using foam rollers or roller massagers.
  • Partner myofascial release techniques using partners to assist you in releasing your muscles.
  • Trigger point MFR techniques for local areas of tightness and pain.

A foam roller or roller massager self-myofascial release (SMR)

Self-myofascial release involves applying pressure to your muscles to relieve fascia “knots.” Many individuals find SMR useful, including athletes, persons with chronic pain, and people with reduced movement due to fibromyalgia, arthritis, or stroke. SMR involves applying physical pressure to muscles using your hands, a roller, or other instruments.

SMR helps break up fascial adhesions, enhancing blood flow and alleviating muscular stiffness. SMR isn’t just for legs. With a foam roller, you may do SMR on your back, chest, shoulders, and upper legs. Roller massagers look like gigantic foam rollers.

Partner myofascial release (PMR)

It involves applying pressure to your muscles with someone’s help. PMR is like SMR with a partner, allowing you to put additional pressure on your muscles. The companion might press on your muscles with their hands or weight.

PMR isn’t only for the lower body. Upper body PMR includes the chest, shoulders, and upper back. PMR can be done on the abdomen, hips, and lower back.

Trigger point MFR (TP-MFR)

It releases muscular “knots” or “trigger points” that cause discomfort and dysfunction. TP-MFR includes applying hand, ball, or tool pressure to trigger points. TP-MFR helps those with chronic pain, reduced movement from fibromyalgia, arthritis, stroke, and injury-related discomfort. When you have tight or painful muscles. Do TP-MFR daily or weekly, especially after a workout or when your muscles are tight or sore.


*All individuals are unique. Your results can and will vary.

TP-MFR targets muscles where you experience tightness or discomfort, including Calves, shins, hamstrings, glutes, lower back, upper back, chest, shoulders, upper legs, and lower legs.

Which Myofascial technique is best?

Your tightness and soreness will determine which MFR is ideal. Self-MFR is helpful for patients with various ailments, even those who prefer a softer massage. Partner MFR can boost blood flow without too much pressure, making it ideal for fibromyalgia patients. TP-MFR can relieve chronic and injury-related pain.

Stop any MFR if you feel pain or discomfort. MFR should be pain-relieving, not unpleasant.

Before commencing any MFR, it’s important to visit an expert. Don’t know any experts? We got you, as we know all the experts around you. Just check our myofascial release near me listing and you don’t have to research anything on your own.


What Is Massage?

Massage is a soft-tissue therapy that uses pressure and manipulation to promote healing and relaxation. It can be done with oils, lotions, or the therapist’s hands. Massage is often used for general relaxation, pain relief, improved blood flow, and flexibility. It can also help relieve headaches and reduce anxiety and stress.

Massage is proven to reduce stress hormones and increase serotonin, the hormone associated with feelings of happiness. Massage is helpful for many health conditions, including arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, and neuromuscular disorders.

How Is Massage Different from Myofascial Release?

Massage is generally seen as a more passive treatment, while the myofascial release is more active. The massage focuses more on relief and stress reduction, while the myofascial release focuses on restoring normal range of motion and improving athletic performance.

A myofascial release session will normally last much longer than a massage. The focus is on a shorter but more intense and focused treatment. Massage is more of a general-exfoliation treatment, while myofascial release is more tailored toward specific areas where you feel pain and tension.

Who Benefits from Each Technique?

People of all ages can benefit from myofascial release vs massage. It’s especially beneficial for athletes, pregnant women, and people who sit at a desk all day.

You can find benefits of myofascial release vs massage no matter your goals. Whether you want to reduce pain and improve sports performance or help your body recover after a long day of work, you’ll find what you need in one of these two treatments.

Which Is Better: Massage or Myofascial Release?

While both myofascial releases vs massage are great alternatives to pain medication and have many health benefits, it’s important to understand that both have different goals. Massage mainly focuses on relaxation and reducing stress and soreness in the body.


*All individuals are unique. Your results can and will vary.

Myofascial release is more focused on mobility and injury prevention. If you want to reduce stress and pain, massage is for you. Myofascial release is the better option if you’re looking to improve mobility and prevent injuries.

After a relaxing treatment, you must be feeling energetic to seek some entertainment or maybe you would like to grab some delicious food. You can pick from hundreds of other options as well after checking out their details on nicelocal We know all the best places and services near you.

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Ed Moses, BS, MBA

Ed Moses develops and directs the group and physical fitness programs a pH Labs, a national 501(c)3 nonprofit health information com

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