Demystifying Myofascial Induction Therapy (MIT)
When we experience a physical or emotional trauma, from an injury or a surgery or stress, our fascial tissue reacts and hardens like a protective body armour. This produces myofascial adhesions, giving us the sensations of tightness, having knots in the muscles, restricted movements and functions. In the long term, this situation will create a Myofascial Dysfunction Syndrome (MDS) which affects almost everyone and is part of the ageing process.
Myofascial Induction Therapy (MIT) is a highly specialised hands-on technique that focuses on the restoration of altered body function through the treatment of the myofascial system, preventing or reversing the MDS. MIT was created by Prof. Andrzej Pilat from over 2 decades of extensive research about the fascia, and this treatment is taught and practiced in a number of countries in Europe and South America. It can be considered as a natural evolution of previous researches and methods having its roots grounded on the practice of Osteopathy by Andrew Still, Rolfing and Structural Integration by Ida Rolf, the Anatomy Trains by Thomas Myers and Myofascial Release (MFR) by John Barnes.
What is the myofascial system?
The myofascial system is the network of connective tissue beneath the skin that attaches, stabilises, encloses and separates muscles and other internal organs. It is a 3D web similar to a spiderweb made of collagen and elastin fibres, connecting everything in the body, creating the body shape, providing support, stability, strength and flexibility through the muscles, cushioning any impacts and internal friction between the different body layers. It also regulates the exchanges between cells and compartments, defining the dimensions of the “pipes” into nerves, blood vessels and fluids pass.
Why does MIT matter?
MDS is a systemic condition affecting the whole body as defence mechanism, not only against the force of gravity but also as reaction and compensation for life events. As part of the ageing process, MDS results in increased tissue acidity, stiffness and dehydration with loss of local circulation. With MDS, the blood vessels, nerves and lymphatic system are squeezed because of the jamming layers created by the chaotic collagen fibres. This results in a vicious circle of restriction-pain-compensation-reduced mobility-dehydration-reduced circulation-increased acidity. The more restrictions, pain, and compensation occur, there is higher risk of anomalous internal frictions, altered functions and osteoarthritis.
MIT and its specific techniques is the best solution to restore the fascial tissues and reverse its deterioration due to MDS.
How can MIT help me?
MIT can help with a wide range of conditions:
- back, neck and joint pain
- Chronic pain
- poor posture
- Visceral pain (e.g. period pain, irregular periods, infertility, kidney/gallbladder stones, gastric reflux and hiatal hernia, IBS, constipation, urinary/intestinal infections, colitis, etc.).
After 1-2 months of regular MIT sessions, while the symptoms are disappearing, the whole body keeps improving towards a new healthy balance. A review of patients after 6-12 months of undergoing regular MIT sessions reveals a continuous improvement beyond the findings detected during the last therapy, because the body system kept “rolling” the ball of the “induction”, amplifying the tissues changes and restoring the body to its original healthy state.
How does MIT work?
MIT is not a massage but a soft touch hands-on method based on a standard orthopaedic assessment and specific techniques to seek, find and dissolve the myofascial restrictions, ultimately treating MDS.
MIT involves a sustained light mechanical compression (minimum 5 grams) on the skin from as brief as 90 seconds to as long as 20 minutes. This generates an “induction” or a manual input which triggers a cascade of biochemical reactions and tissue-brain communications which will stop and reverse MDS.
The techniques used in MIT usually involves the following:
- Placing hand(s) on tissues to be treated
- Pressing lightly to find the barriers (the limits of skin movements) and applying a constant pressure to tension the tissue
- Holding constant pressure depending on the depth of the restriction and the body’s reactions (pressure is reduced if there is any pain)
The above techniques is most effective with the patient’s active participation in communicating the changes in symptoms and sensations during the treatment.
What happens after the session?
The first MIT session or “induction” will start a 48-hour biochemical process where the fascia cells will re-absorb the old collagen fibres in the external structure and produce new fibres resetting the system with its own natural microscopic tension. Patients are normally advised to rest, practice low to medium impact physical activities and avoid sport or extreme conditions during this 48-hour period. During this time the patient can have an immediate sense of release, tiredness, need to eat carbohydrates and drink more water, sense of deep relaxation and need to sleep earlier or longer, and changes in the bladder/bowel excretion. The effects of the process should reduce following this 48-hour period, and the patient’s symptoms generally start to improve.
How many sessions?
The number of sessions can vary from patient to patient, depending on a number of factors such as: the severity and number of symptoms or restrictions, hydration of the tissues, compliance with the exercise program, age of the patient and other postural/medical conditions.
During your first session, the therapist will assess the above factors and provide a recommendation on the number of sessions that may be required. This will be revisited at each session, depending on the body’s response to the therapy. The average number of sessions to resolve any body pain is 3 to 6 sessions, however more sessions may be needed to address other issues such as correcting posture or improve the function of organ(s).
How often should you have a treatment?
It is advisable to have at least 1 session per week in the first 3 to 4 weeks, which is the average timeframe to significantly reduce the pain in the affected area(s). Patients experiencing several symptoms in different areas of the body are advised to start with 3 to 4 sessions in the first 2 weeks then moving to once a week.
The frequency of treatment can vary depending on the severity of symptoms and the number of areas to treat, however since each session or “induction” boosts the effect of the previous session, the frequency of treatment reduces over time. Thus patients can move from a weekly session, to once every fortnight, to once every 3 weeks, then once a month.
What is the difference between Myofascial Induction Therapy (MIT) and Myofascial Release (MFR)?
MIT and MFR have a lot of similarities: they are based on the same concepts and clinical reasoning and they can complement each other. The “induction” in MIT relates to the soft touch manual input that not only releases restrictions and treats the pain but also activates a cascade of biochemical reactions and microscopic tensional changes restoring qualities and functionalities previously compromised. On the other hand, MFR is more passive in seeking to “release” the restriction or pain in an affected area.
The key aspect of MIT is the activation of a tissue-brain-tissue conversation which goes beyond the local pain or restriction, generating changes in the whole body’s posture, mobility and functionality, with the benefits lasting for months or even years.