Functional Range Release

Introduction to Functional Range Release®

What is Functional Range Release FR®

Unlike many manual therapy systems FR® Release was created out of the most current scientific literature. It therefore represents a cohesive system of manual care using the best evidence, and most effective strategies currently available to assess, diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate musculoskeletal disorders, pain, and movement dysfunction.

The FR® system has been successfully utilized to manage a wide variety of injuries and dysfunctions in various populations.  This includes problems affecting any and all bodily tissues such as muscles, tendons, nerves, ligaments, joints, etc.

What conditions is FR® useful for?

At Mountain Health & Performance Dr. Amy Wiggins and Dr. Matthew Wentzell utilize FR® on patients of all ages and activity levels. It is a great treatment for soft-tissue injuries experienced by athletes (sprains, strains, tendonitis), however almost all painful musculoskeletal injuries and conditions involve the formation of fibrosis which is treated effectively with FR®

Conditions commonly treated using this system include:

Spinal pain (low back, neck), headache, shoulder impingement, carpal tunnel syndrome, plantar fasciitis, tennis or golfers elbow, sciatica, knee pain, osteoarthritis, and many more.  Further, because FR® certified practitioners utilize both passive care (soft tissue work, joint mobilization, etc.), and active care (rehabilitation, exercise prescription, etc.), these conditions can often be resolved permanently

What is an FR® treatment like?

Our chiropractors that are trained in the FR® system will first take a comprehensive health history in order to better understand not only your specific problem, but also to learn about how your body currently functions.  Following this, the practitioner will utilize their hands in attempts to feel (or “palpate”) where the problematic tissues are as well as to define the problem specifically.  How well this is done will usually dictate the effectiveness of any treatment protocol utilized.

FR® providers are masters at the art of palpation as their training included instruction in the most complete palpation system available.  They are therefore very efficient and effective at specifically locating, and defining your problem, which then translates into a better ability to apply the necessary treatment interventions.

Once the abnormal tissue is located and defined, FR® practitioners will utilize specific manual release protocols to correct the problem.  This manual release protocol feels similar to massage with the addition of stretching. For the patient it will feel like the therapy is working the muscles, but as you will read below the primary target of FR® is the surrounding connective tissue structures. This is where the fibrosis or scar tissue forms.

The depth of a FR® treatment is specific to the connective tissue structure that is being targeted. Some tissues are superficial (closer to the skin) and will require less “pressure “while other tissues are deeper and may require more intense “pressure or “depth”. A good clinician understands that deeper is not always better or necessary and that treatment should always be based on the palpation of tissue tension, which can develop in the various layers of connective tissues of the body. Depending on the area being treated many patients find FR® treatment relaxing or experience that “hurt so good” feeling.

This will lead to:

  • Decreased abnormal tissue tension
  • Improved healing
  • Increased range of motion/flexibility
  • Decreased pain
  • Improved function.

In addition to this manual treatment, they will teach you take home exercises specific to your particular condition that will expedite the healing process and ensure that the problem does not recur.

Beyond this, FR® practitioners can continue to work with you to help maintain good joint health and an active lifestyle.

FR® treatment Principles:

The selection and application of sound soft tissue treatment depends on the practitioner’s ability to locate and define soft tissue lesions. Only with an advanced understanding of the tissues composition, as well as the histological process underlying the injury can one create the most effective and efficient treatment strategy guided by science.

These concepts constitute a large focus of the Functional Range Release technique certification seminars. FR® practioners are therefore able to truly define musculoskeletal lesions or biomechanical dysfunction making their treatment results specific and effective.

The goal of soft-tissue therapy is to remove restrictive “scar tissue” or fibrosis. But where does this fibrosis form? Injury to a tissue is followed by various processes including the following:

  • Inflammation
  • Remodeling of connective tissue with decreased stiffness and strength
  • Deposition of collagen fibers in random, unorganized ways.
  • The inability of collagen bundles to slide easily past one another.
  • Substitution of collagen types with those that have less strength
  • Contraction of the fascia
  • Increased neurological tightness in the tissue leading to protective spasms.

The target of therapy is NOT the muscle but rather the surrounding connective tissue structures where the fibrosis develops. The goal of manual relapse is to reduce tissue tension via the application of specifically applied forces, which influence the long-term rescuplting, and reorganizing of disorganized connective tissue (scar tissue). This will create tissue that has better quality, elasticity and resilience.

Tissue Tension Technique

Scar tissue or (fibrosis) represents normal tissue that is laid down in a disorganized way after injury. Therefore if a single tissue fiber is oriented in the wrong direction this would be considered scar tissue. This is a small variation that we are not able to feel or distinguish with our hands. Instead of feeling for scar tissue or knots, FR® practioners practice and master the art of finding and defining areas of abnormal tissue tension. When there is a tissue that tightens too soon within what should be a normal range of motion then we know there is likely fibrosis or scar tissue in this area.

The FR® system uses FAP (functional anatomical palpation) to locate tissue lesions and then what is known as the tissue tension technique to define said lesions in order to form a clinical decision for treatment.