What is Functional Fascial Release?
Functional Fascial Release is a method to release shortened or adhered fascia (connective tissue). Its goal is to let the body move more smoothly and to make it easier to keep an upright posture. Functional Fascial Release is a cooperation between the client and the practitioner. The practitioner will use his hands to contact the tissues he wants to mobilize and will ask the client to move in specific ways. During the movement the practitioner will stretch or reposition the tissue or will free it from possible adhered adjacent tissue. Occasionally the movement is passive, meaning that the practitioner will move a client’s body part. Compared to Kalevala bonesetting, the contact is stronger and more intensive. At times the treatment can cause pain, but only for a short duration and the pain should remain bearable. It is essential that your body does not fear the movements or the practitioner’s touch during the treatment. Therefore, always tell your practitioner when the treatment is too strong or causes pain.
The three sessions
Functional Fascial Release is a shortened and simplified form of Structural Integration, which is also known as Rolfing®. Structural Integration consists of ten or twelve sessions, but Functional Fascial Release of three ones. Each session lasts 90 minutes. The treatments focus on the following areas:
- In the first session: Balancing the feet, the legs and the pelvis.
- In the second session: Freeing the breath and improving the orientation of the chest and the shoulders.
- In the third session: Balancing the spine, including the neck.
In practice there is some overlap between the treatments in the sessions. In the first two sessions the back and the neck get already a short treatment. In the second and third session the practitioner can return to problems that came to light in an earlier session. In all sessions also the balance and the flexibility of the body are improved.
There should be an interval of preferably between two days and two weeks between successive sessions. Each session builds upon the results of the previous one. The body needs two to three days to adapt to the changes that occurred during the session. After two weeks, it is possible that the increased flexibility that was obtained in the previous session has already been partially lost.
Of course, it is possible to try out a separate session of FFR. However, you can expect better and longer lasting results by undertaking the whole series.
After the treatment
After the session, do not get immediately into the car, but first go for a relaxed walk. It is also advisable to take a small walk before the treatment. The walking will help you to become aware of the changes that were brought about in the session and to feel their effect on your posture and ease of movement. This helps to make the changes permanent. Listen to your body in the days after the treatment. Your body knows when it needs rest or exercise, and what kind of exercise it needs.
After the third session the body needs four to six weeks to absorb all changes that were brought about in the sessions or — in professional language — to integrate. During that time there is no use in starting a new series of three sessions, but partial treatments are certainly possible.
Functional Fascial Release is based on the functional chains or fascial meridians that have been described by Thomas Myers, as well as on the techniques of the workshops Fascial Release for Structural Balance. The workshops for the techniques for the separate body parts are followed by a certification module, in which it is taught to combine the techniques in a series of three sessions, aiming at balancing the entire body and releasing unnecessary tension in the whole fascial network. I have completed this certification module — the first one in Finland — in August 2016. In principle, I could now study further to become a Structural Integrator or Rolfer™, but that would require excessively money and time. For the time being I am satisfied with improving my skills in Functional Fascial Release.