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Everything You Want to Know About

Myofascial Release and Myofascial Movement Training





What is Myofascial Release?

Myofascial Release is a full body hands-on form of Manual Therapy. The focus is to find then release the restrictions from the key structure of our bodies, The Fascial System. This is a three dimensional tissue running throughout your whole body continuously from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. It entwines around muscles, nerves, organs, and arteries/veins. It is like a spider web, so when injury or illness occurs the whole web restricts, causing pain in non-logical places. It may affect circulation, arterial, venous and lymph flow, digestion or musculoskeletal shifts that cause joint and muscular pain, headaches, or fibromyalgia... just to name a few.

The John F. Barnes Approach of Myofascial Release is unique to other forms of MFR due to the attention placed on the time that a therapist applies pressure into the fascial system. Sustained pressure into the restriction for a minimum of 2-5 minutes is required for the fascial system to start to release at the collagenous barrier. Other forms of therapy work with the elastic component without considering the collagenous barrier and only produce temporary results. This is a whole body approach that does not use traditional protocols for the treatment of individual symptoms. Because MFR is not a passive therapy, its effectiveness depends partly on participation by the person in treatment. Each person is assessed and treated with the understanding that the root cause of a symptom will not always be the same in everyone.

Pain happens as a result of fascial tension on nervous structures and may not be caused where the pain lies. The goal is to look at the body as an uninterrupted three dimensional being and release the restrictions in order to bring the body back into neutral, thus relieving the pain. Our bodies are self healing, but we have to learn how to stay present and learn how to “let go” on many levels in order to move through the process of releasing the pain. This is not a linear approach but is highly effective with long lasting results. Unless from a direct trauma, pain is usually caused by a lifetime build-up of repetition, emotional holding, and posture. The treatment requires participation from the client to feel deeply and to help guide into those important areas.

Every treatment is different depending on what you present with at each session. We will use our hands to facilitate the fascial release in the form of stretch, direct pressure or compression trying to find ways for your body to unwind the fascial restriction. Treatment is performed mostly on the table, but at times sitting, standing, or on the mat. Several of your sessions will be with two therapists.



What Is Fascia?

We are not merely a biomechanical machine but a living organism dynamic and fluid. The fascia, although connective tissue and insulator, it is a three dimensional web that holds and conducts liquid, energy and information- a liquid crystal.

In healthy individuals the fascia is highly organized light and if we are ill, we have lost this organization of internal energy and flowing communication

Because the fascial system is the primary communication system it processes information faster than the Central Nervous System. If it becomes disorganized, it cannot function as a coordinated balanced whole.

Physical and/or emotional traumas create malfunction to the fascial system causing a binding down of the

fascia and puts abnormal pressure on nerves, muscles, bones, organs down to the cellular level. The functions of the body-support, nutrition, protection, elimination, metabolism, lymphatic flow do not process correctly.

These traumas or unresolved emotional holding patterns dehydrate the fluid component of the fascial system and lead to restrictions that exert enormous pressure and inhibit the vital communication of the body resulting

in symptoms.

Western Medicine calls this DISEASE. We call it dis-ease. The fascia contains many fight or flight nerve endings that your energy becomes locked in the sympathetic nervous system and becomes a part of your subconscious leading to holding patterns for protection. You become locked into a “moment of time”. We do not allow ourselves to complete the cycle and discharge the energy.

Examples: a limp develops after you break a leg, abdominal or digestive issues as a result of fear or being locked in survival mode, develop rounded shoulders after a car accident or physical abuse-protection. These all lead to imbalance in the fascia. This loss of control causes automatic compensations which our brain feeds off of and tries to rebalance the system. Our body's sole purpose is survival. We develop this “amnesia” which creates fascial contraction and we cannot relax.

Our brain listens to signals from the body so we need to intentionally change the message the body is sending and the best way to achieve success is through the John F. Barnes' Approach of myofascial release therapy.



What is Myofascial Stretching?


Myofascial Stretching is the safest and most effective way to create space and balance in the body. This technique of stretching is extremely advanced because of its specificity to correct the body's tensegrity through the fascial chains and it's solicitation of the nervous system.

All muscles are wrapped in an aponeurotic sleeve and connected with each other through numerous fascial lines. Everyone knows about muscle stretching, however, it is difficult to stretch a muscle if it is wrapped in a leathery sleeve which does not give. It is better to consider each muscle as links in chains extending throughout the length of the entire body. The goal of every myofascial stretch is to put tension into the fascia that encases the muscles in order to normalize the length and function of the fascial chains. When you do myofascial stretches, you correct structural imbalances and release tension across the joints which reduces inflammation and pain. The flexibility gains from myofascial stretches will improve your mobility and overall health. As you become more flexible, you'll find that you have better posture, greater range of motion, greater ease in performing daily tasks, and you'll suffer fewer injuries.


Myofascial Stretching differs from conventional stretching in three primary ways:

1. Myofascial stretches are held continuously for at least 90-120 seconds. This is how long it takes for the fascia to begin to let go. Shorter stretches do not affect the collagenous aspect of the fascia (connective tissue) and therefore lead to only temporary, partial results.

2. Myofascial stretches include active elongation. This would mean actively extending your arm away from the body and telescoping or reaching your arm as if you are trying to make it longer. You will feel how this lengthens the tissue in a three-dimensional way throughout your arm.

3. Myofascial stretches result in stretching and strengthening simultaneously. During active elongation of the body, muscle groups oppose the tight fascia contraction in a sustained manner. This prolonged isometric contraction of the muscle against the resistance of the fascial barrier strengthens them, helping to maintain the elongated state of the tissue you have just released.


What is Myofascial Movement Training?


After achieving mobility from myofascial release therapy, we must address how our body functions in everyday life. When we repeat dysfunctional patterns over and over again, our bodies get used to staying within the dysfunction rather than changing. Sitting at a desk glued to our computers causes us to have slouched shoulders and a forward head posture. Within time, your body memorizes these patterns, tightening muscles throughout the body, until that bad posture is set as a new neuro-muscular pattern. Poor neuro-muscular patterns increase the chance for injury anytime you move because they constrict your natural movement. If you want to maintain or improve your movement/exercise regimen, you need to correct these patterns or injury/pain will develop.

Myofascial Movement Training implements exercise patterns progressively to coordinate every part of the body to function properly. Injury, chronic postural patterns, and/or surgery create habitually tight muscles placing an excessive continuous load on joints and deprive them of rest. Eventually, over the years, the joint cartilage breaks down, leading to pain and loss of mobility and circulation. To remedy or create new patterns, we must erase the conditioning affecting our brain and muscular system in order to reclaim control of our own bodies. The exercises are designed to prevent injury, speed recovery from injury or surgery, improve coordination, reverse certain effects of aging on movement, and enable you to get more out of your workouts. An individualized program is created with the correct patterned movement maneuvers focusing attention on the “feeling of the movement” to develop usable strength and coordination.  You will learn how to control your strength by making the sensory-motor connection with your brain. This learning teaches you how to use the muscles you need and leave the rest to relax. This simple change improves your efficiency and enhances your workout or daily activities returning you to a pain-free lifestyle.

John F. Barnes Discussing Myofascial Release - Part 1

This is a brief excerpt from the Fireside Chat with John F. Barnes, PT the developer of the John F. Barnes' Myofascial Release Approach TM, a revolutionary treatment technique and approach. Included is a short introduction by Richard Harty, PT.

Myofascial Release - Part 2

This is a brief excerpt from the Fireside Chat with John F. Barnes, PT the developer of the John F. Barnes' Myofascial Release Approach TM, a revolutionary treatment technique and approach. Included is a short introduction by Richard Harty, PT.

Myofascial Unwinding 

This is a brief excerpt from the Fireside Chat with John F. Barnes, PT the developer of the John F. Barnes' Myofascial Release Approach TM, a revolutionary treatment technique and approach. Included is a short introduction by Richard Harty, PT.

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