About 10 years ago I received my first myofascial release bodywork treatment. Since then, I’ve spent over 140 hours in training to be a myofascial release therapist, and many hundreds more treating my clients. I’ve also benefited greatly from the holistic approach of the myofascial release bodywork I’ve received. I have found it to be an incredibly effective method of treating chronic pain because it not only relieves existing pain, but also offers an avenue to start resolving long-term causes and dysfunctions.
Ginevra Liptan, M.D. quotes a patient in her wonderful book Figuring out Fibromyalgia, “Myofascial release works better than any pill to relieve my pain.”
The type of myofascial release I practice, and what Dr. Liptan references in her book is taught by John F. Barnes, P.T. While there are many therapists offering myofascial work, my experience is that the Barnes approach is far superior work for most people. It’s worth searching out someone trained in this particular approach.
Myofascial release (MFR) uses gentle, hands-on pressure to engage the fascial system and restore health and balance throughout your body. This inherently safe process facilitates your body’s natural ability to “unwind,” release subconscious holding patterns, and thus reintegrate the body, nervous system, and mind. The result is significant change that is measurable and functional.
Fascia is a type of tissue that creates a three-dimensional, whole-body system. It supports and protects every system, muscle, nerve, bone, joint, blood vessel, organ, and cell in the body. Imagine it as a completely connected spider web that reaches from head to toe in each of us!
This web is made up of both fibers and a fluid ground substance. Myofascial restrictions are created when the fluid aspect of the fascia loses its gel-like properties as a result of physical injury, inflammation, surgery, mental stress, emotional trauma, poor posture, and/or repetitive strain. Restrictions can create pressure up to 2000 lbs. per square inch—imagine two horses standing on one square inch of your body!
Your body tries to accommodate these restrictions by adjusting posture, motion, and flexibility. Over time this causes pain, weakness, inflammation, or malfunction throughout the body, sometimes with symptoms that seem unrelated. Myofascial release is a profound and long-term solution.
A variety of therapists can be trained in myofascial release—physical therapists, massage therapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists. When you arrive for your first myofascial release appointment, you can expect the therapist to evaluate your posture and discuss any treatment needs. Therapists may work throughout your body, or in one specific area depending on your needs.
Myofascial release treatment using the John Barnes approach will include long, slow, sustained holds. The myofascial restriction is lightly stretched or lengthened, and this position is maintained for at least two minutes but often longer. This process is then repeated throughout the body based on the therapist’s assessment and the client’s experience. Treatment is non-injurious, and helps heal mind, body and spirit.
Also find this video on You Tube for a visual exploration of fascia: http://youtu.be/01jdrGrp4Fo.
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