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 Myofascial Release

Myofascial Release was developed by John F. Barnes, PT over 50 years ago and, technically, owns the name ‘Myofascial Release.’ There are numerous myofascial techniques that treat connective tissue restrictions and some therapists will state that they do Myofascial Release. If they have not been trained in the John F. Barnes method they are not doing Myofascial Release. They are doing some other form of myofascial technique. If you are looking for a therapist who does Myofascial Release, make sure that they have been trained in the John F. Barnes method.

Myofascial Release employs a very different approach from other forms of myofascial techniques because it does not force the release of connective tissue restrictions. The body is inherently intelligent and knows what needs to be done to reorganize restricted tissue and return it to a normal state. The John F. Barnes approach to these restrictions is one of acknowledging and respecting that inherent intelligence and working with the body, honoring and assisting the body in the reorganization of the connective tissue restrictions.

People call and ask if I do ‘deep tissue’ work. They are usually referring to an hour long session of being knuckled and elbowed while the therapist targets ‘knots’ in the tissue, seeking to force the release of the ‘knot.’ Some people prefer that kind of bodywork. Sadly, I have seen people in my office who have been bruised, physically and emotionally, by that kind of work. I do not do ‘deep tissue’ work. It has been my experience in the seven years that I have been doing Myofascial Release that it is far superior to ‘deep tissue’ work and provides results that last much longer. While a Myofascial Release session can be quite relaxing on the table, it is profoundly deep work. It is common after a session for a client to be sore afterward. It usually passes in a day or two after a session.

Here is what John F. Barnes has to say about fascia:

“Fascia is a specialized system of the body that has an appearance similar to a spider’s web or a sweater. Fascia is very densely woven, covering and interpenetrating every muscle, bone, nerve, artery and vein, as well as, all of our internal organs including the heart, lungs, brain and spinal cord. The most interesting aspect of the fascial system is that it is not just a system of separate coverings. It is actually one continuous structure that exists from head to toe without interruption. In this way you can begin to see that each part of the entire body is connected to every other part by the fascia, like the yarn in a sweater.

Trauma, inflammatory responses, and/or surgical procedures create Myofascial restrictions that can produce tensile pressures of approximately 2,000 pounds per square inch on pain sensitive structures that do not show up in many of the standard tests (x-rays, myelograms, CAT scans, electromyography, etc.) A high percentage of people suffering with pain and/or lack o motion may be having fascial problems, but are not diagnosed.

My experience has shown that much of what you and I were taught has been known to be obsolete for close to seventy years! Despite the fact that the information has been known to be outdated, it is still being taught in most medical, dental and therapeutic schools, leading to the frustration of temporary results and a health care system on the verge of bankruptcy and collapse.

It is time to change and update our paradigm, which is a shared set of assumptions, a model of reality. Out society’s model of reality is logical, but a terribly flawed and incomplete paradigm.

Fascia plays an important role in the support and function of our bodies, since it surrounds and attaches to all structures. In the normal healthy state, the fascia is relaxed and wavy in configuration. It has the ability to stretch and move without restriction. When one experiences physical trauma, emotional trauma, scarring, or inflammation, however, the fascia loses its pliability. It becomes tight, restricted, and a source of tension to the rest of the body. Trauma, such as a fall, car accident, whiplash, surgery or just habitual poor posture and repetitive stress injuries has cumulative effects on the body. The changes trauma causes in the fascial system influences comfort and function of our body. Fascial restrictions can exert excessive pressure causing all kinds of symptoms producing pain, headaches or restriction of motion. Fascial restrictions affect our flexibility and stability, and are a determining factor in our ability to withstand stress and perform daily activities.”

The word ‘myo’ means muscle. The myofascial system is the system of muscles and connective tissue (fascia). Muscle tendons and ligaments are made of fascia. Fascia surrounds every muscle fiber. Lines of fascia weave throughout our bodies from head to toe literally holding everything in its proper place, right down to each individual cell.

The medical approach is to medicate patients so they are temporarily free of pain but they do not address the cause of the pain. Traditional therapies treat the symptoms but do not address the tensile pressures that cause and perpetuate the symptoms.

Myofascial Release sessions are performed directly on the skin without oils, creams or machinery. This allows for detection of fascial restrictions to apply the appropriate amount of sustained pressure to allow for release of the fascia.

The following is a partial list of dysfunctions caused by connective tissue restrictions due to physical injury, inflammation, surgery, mental stress, emotional trauma, poor posture and repetitive strain:

  • Back Pain
  • Headaches & Migraines
  • Pelvic and Hip Pain
  • Neck Pain
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Sports Injuries
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Carpal Tunnel
  • TMJ (Jaw Pain)

The difference between ‘deep tissue’ and Myofascial Release is that restricted tissue is never forced. Through sustained pressure and/or traction, honoring each body as an individual, restrictions are released in such a manner as to not cause further pain and trauma during the session. The client may feel a mild burning sensation as the connective tissue is released. Pressure is adjusted to fall within a client’s tolerance.

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