Myofascial Release (The John Barnes Method)
Myofascial Release is a very effective hands-on technique that involves applying gentle sustained pressure into the Myofascial connective tissue restrictions (the fascia) to help eliminate pain and restore motion. Trauma, inflammatory responses, and/or surgical procedures create Myofascial restrictions that can produce tensile pressures on pain sensitive structures that do not show up on many of the standardized tests (x-rays, CAT scans, etc).The use of Myofascial Release allows us to look at each client as a unique individual. Our one-on-one therapy sessions are hands-on treatments during which MFR therapists use a multitude of Myofascial Release techniques and movement therapy. We promote independence through education in proper body mechanics and movement, self treatment instruction, enhancement of strength, improved flexibility and postural and movement awareness.
To start, the therapist will do a visual assessment to check the alignment of your body. This assessment, along with your history and areas of concern will determine where we will start.
It is also recommended for the client to wear shorts and a sports bra or a 2 piece bathing suit (or something they feel comfortable in as all releases are done directly on the skin and some may involve movement).
Using the John Barnes method of Myofascial Release, gentle pressure (or traction) is applied to the restricted areas of the body. This pressure may be held for up to 5 minutes at a time, depending on areas of restriction. In that time you will feel the tissues soften, as this happens more pressure and stretch will be applied. The time factor is extremely important to fully release the deep layers of the fascial system and, in turn, allow our body to begin to heal.
Soft tissue mobilization techniques may also be used if there are a lot of superficial restrictions. This technique is mostly stripping-like strokes along the surface of the skin.
To get the full benefits of your MFR treatment, you will need to really focus on what you are feeling in your body during treatment. You may have referral sensations in areas of your body that aren’t being worked on. You may feel your body twitch or shake. You may feel the need to stretch or move during a release (this is the fascial tissue unwinding). You may even feel different emotions coming up during the session (fear, anger, sadness, joy, etc.…). Emotions are felt and expressed with the body and experienced and labeled in the mind.
All of these feelings and sensations are valid, so don’t be too quick to dismiss anything that comes up. We may not know what they mean or where they come from, but it is important that we honor them and feel them through the course of the session.
Everybody is going to respond to treatment a little differently, some of you may experience what we call a “Healing Crisis”. This can feel like mild to intense workout pain, a temporary increase in symptoms, flu-like aches/chills, or the feeling of emotional chaos. While this may be uncomfortable, it IS part of the healing process. Your body has been holding on to a pattern of restriction for a while and when it finally gets released you may feel it in the form of a “healing crisis”. When you have been out of touch with your body due to fascial restrictions, what you experience in a healing crisis is more of a “waking up” process. Allowing yourself to feel this is important to the process, as is being gentle with yourself.
Each Myofascial Release Treatment session is performed directly on the skin without oils, creams or machinery. This enables the therapist to accurately detect fascial restrictions and apply the appropriate amount of sustained pressure and prolonged holds to facilitate the release of the fascia. Prior to the session, the MFR practitioner will perform a postural assessment to assess where your body stands against gravity. This tool is used to assess reasons behind postural alterations, which can ultimately cause pain and injury. *Picture above details how the change in a woven sweater can impact the “whole” sweater. Same goes with our bodies and fascial restrictions pulling/loading on our structural alignment..
What is 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, vein as well as our internal organs. Fascia is one continuous structure that exists from head to toe without interruption. Each part of the body is connected to every other part by the fascia, like the yarn in a sweater.
As fascia plays an important role in the support and function of our bodies, 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.
What to expect with Myofascial Release
Thank you for choosing MFR. You will notice as you begin treatment, that MFR is quite un-like any other form of bodywork that you may have experienced. So, with this in mind I would like to outline a few tips that will help you find success with your treatments.
Your Body Can Heal!
Our bodies have an incredible ability to heal themselves, if given the right environment. What I can do with MFR is open up the body via the fascial system to allow this healing to begin.
Have a Goal
Have a clear and realistic goal before beginning treatment. Being “pain free” may not be a realistic goal in all cases, but decreasing pain and gaining greater range of motion can be. Share your goals with your therapist so that you’re both on the same page and so that your therapist is better able to help you.