From the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Myofascial Techniques for the Medial and Lateral Pterygoids,” by Til Luchau and Bethany Ward, in the July 2010 issue. Article summary: As useful as jaws are, they do come with complications. In modern humans, primary among these are temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders (TMJMD or TMD), or temporomandibular joint syndrome. These umbrella terms describe conditions characterized by biting discomfort, jaw clicking, facial and jaw pain, earaches, headaches, gastric disturbance and restricted jaw motion, among other symptoms. Fortunately, there are effective ways hands-on work can help relieve and prevent the symptoms associated with TMD.

by Art Riggs

Although myofascial release techniques are extremely useful in a therapeutic medical setting for treating injuries, for any form of postural/structural integration, and for freedom of movement and increased athletic performance, they can add a powerful adjunct to any bodywork practitioner’s skill set.

As a Rolfer® and teacher of deep-tissue massage and myofascial release, it is disheartening to talk to so many relaxation-based massage therapists who are either intimidated by misconceptions about the complexities of the skills or feel there needs to be a sharp distinction or dichotomy between nurturing relaxation and therapeutic bodywork.

The reality of any massage practice is virtually every client, in addition to wanting massage that is relaxing and feels good, will have some area of dysfunction presenting symptoms of pain, soft-tissue thickening or joint restriction that result from myofascial restrictions that interfere with his or her life.

Bodywork is an increasingly competitive field, and the success of any practice lies in offering lasting benefit to resolution of these problems, often through the use of an eclectic set of tools—including myofascial release techniques. If you wonder why some clients obviously enjoy your work but don’t reschedule, consider if you are doing a disservice to yourself and clients by restricting the scope of your practice and not capitalizing on the benefits of myofascial release as a part of your relaxation-based massage.

Myofascial release is not a high-tech, new invention; hands-on healers have been doing it for hundreds of years (since before the term was popularized a few years ago). Like any complex skill, it is not an all-or-none knowledge. A deepening understanding of anatomy, the layers of the body and the sensitivity of touch that comes with practice all can hone your skills even after an introductory instruction.

Art Riggs is a Certified Advanced Rolfer who has been teaching bodywork since 1988. He conducts deep-tissue massage and myofascial release classes in the U.S. and internationally (