Introducing The Myofascial Release Therapy | Release Works
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An Introduction to Myofascial Release Therapy (The John F Barnes Method)

Man having a back massage - myofascial release therapy john barnes method

Are you looking for a holistic approach to support your body and optimize your health and well-being? 

If so, Myofascial Release Therapy (MFR), a form of manual therapy developed by world-renowned physical therapist John F. Barnes (the type we practice here at Release Works), could be the perfect fit.

This hands-on treatment style offers numerous benefits that span from relief from chronic pain, stress, tension, and postural imbalances to a better range of motion and function in your joints and muscles.

But what sets this specialized form of Myofascial Release Therapy apart from other forms of physical therapy and bodywork is the focus on addressing the underlying causes of pain rather than just treating the presenting symptoms.

We use your symptoms as clues – to track back to the underlying root cause(s). 

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But what is the John F Barnes method of Myofascial Release Therapy, and how does it differ from other forms of physical therapy, massage, and bodywork?

Here is everything you need to know…

Who Is John F Barnes?

Human body, torso skeletal and muscular systems, front view on black background. 3d anatomy illustration.

John F. Barnes is one of the most prominent physical therapists in the world. He is a revolutionary figure in the field of physical therapy and the founder of a ground-breaking technique known as Myofascial Release Therapy. 

His dedication and passion for healing led him on a lifelong quest to understand the body's natural ability to heal itself.

Through extensive research and clinical practice, he discovered the integral role of fascia – the connective tissue holding our muscles and organs together – in our overall health and well-being.

For nearly 50 years, he has been at the forefront of researching various non-invasive methods to reduce pain and restore mobility among professional athletes and everyday people who have had an injury or are suffering from chronic musculoskeletal issues.

He is a pioneer in Myofascial Release (MFR) - a form of soft tissue therapy that releases tension within connective tissue and muscle fibers.

Barnes' Myofascial Release Therapy is a gentle, non-invasive modality that addresses pain and dysfunction at the source rather than simply masking the symptoms. 

Thanks to his years of tireless experimentation and exploration, countless people have achieved lasting relief and improved their quality of life.

What Is Myofascial Release Therapy?

breakdown of fascia and muscle

Myofascial release therapy is a technique we use to treat the entirety of the being, including to ease muscle tension, speed recovery from accident or injury, and aid in pain relief.

It is a non-invasive and pain-free treatment quickly gaining popularity among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. It is also beginning to be recognized as the best way to resolve chronic conditions and maintain lifelong health. Lots of people think it's just a massage, but it isn't – far from it.

Myofascial Release Therapy is a standalone treatment focusing on the fascia – the connective tissue surrounding and supporting everything in your body, not just the muscles, as in traditional massage therapy. Why?

Because fascia – or, more precisely, the restrictions in your fascial system are often the root cause of many chronic conditions.

Plus, it's the system of the body that the allopathic medical community completely overlooks.

That's why we can often help patients who have been given endless prescriptions for pain pills or muscle relaxants with no real answers or long-term solutions. Does that sound like you?

We use specific pressures into areas of restriction for specific amounts of time to address and resolve restrictions in the fascia.

By doing this – with gentle and sustained pressure, we release restrictions in your myofascial tissue (that have often been there for decades or more), help to alleviate pain and improve the range of motion throughout your body. The entirety of the being gains a sense of space and ability to respond, rather than brace and hold tight.

Your body can then restore natural balance and heal itself.  

Unlike traditional forms of physical therapy and so-called myofascial release, the John F Barnes approach involves a comprehensive evaluation of your entire body rather than just focusing on one sore spot.

The results are profound and long-lasting, empowering you to live a pain-free and active life. The type of life that you mistakenly (but totally understandably) believe is behind you. 

Myofascial release therapy can apply to many different types of ways to address restrictions in the fascial system. Not all are gentle, though. Or long lasting.

What Form Of Myofascial Release Is Right For You?

The John F Barnes approach to this type of therapy is unique, utilizing a slower rhythm and applying direct pressure to treat the area, working with what the body allows. Rather than forcing. 

By allowing the body time to adjust and releasing tension through specific manipulations, John F Barnes-trained practitioners like us apply the most effective techniques to facilitate healing. 

As early as the first session, patients report feeling more space in the body and greater ability to move, as well as a decrease in pain levels.

After a series of sessions, they can feel the difference being created by effective treatment sessions with a therapist and development of an effective at home program. This often includes relieving their pain, improving physical function, reducing stress, increasing mobility, soothing nervous system activation caused by trauma, reducing anxiety/depression symptoms, promoting self-care practices, improving postural strength/stability, and regulating sleep patterns.

What Are The Benefits of Myofascial Release Therapy?

Fit woman doing stretching pilates exercises in fitness studio

Myofascial release therapy targets your fascia - the connective tissue that covers your muscles, skin, bones, and organs.

By loosening the fascia, we enhance your flexibility, range of motion, and overall performance – with huge positive effects, rejuvenating you from the outside.

It provides multiple benefits to your body, such as reducing muscle tension, enhancing blood flow, and promoting relaxation.

It’s an excellent way to reduce, and even resolve, chronic conditions by counteracting the negative effects of poor posture, old accidents, illnesses and injuries, chronic stress, and tension. 

The John F Barnes method of Myofascial Release Therapy that we practice at Release Works is particularly beneficial for chronic “untreatable” conditions like fibromyalgia, headaches, and chronic fatigue.

But it’s important to remember that not all therapists who claim to offer myofascial release are skilled or knowledgeable in the John F Barnes method. Most of them provide straightforward massage or "digging" through restrictions – with only temporary results.

What To Expect During A Myofascial Release Therapy Session

If you’ve heard about the benefits and considering Myofascial Release Therapy, it’s natural to be a bit unsure about what to expect. But there is nothing to worry about.

During your session, we use gentle pressure to release tightness and tension in your fascia. Depending on what we are working with, you may lie on a table on your back, stomach, or side. We then use our hands to apply specific pressure into areas of restriction. You may feel this as pressure, heat, a sense of butter melting or taffy stretching. You may notice other areas of the body beginning to feel the effect of where we sustain pressure. Nothing should ever feel like force. 

We may sustain pressure into any given area for a significant amount of time as you feel the tissues change. A treatment session will last an hour, and can include hands on treatment, self treatment instruction and practice, movement exploration, belief exploration, and unwinding. Each individual treatment session will vary depending on what you present with. 

You may feel some discomfort or mild tenderness during the session. If so, it is important to discuss this with your therapist. You may also find Myofascial Release Therapy a deeply relaxing and therapeutic experience. 

Over time, our regular Myofascial Release Therapy sessions can help improve your mobility, reduce pain, and increase your overall well-being.

How To Get The Most Out Of Your MFR Sessions 

talking with a physical therapist

Myofascial release therapy can be a transformative experience if you’re seeking greater ease and ability in your body. But to get the most out of your sessions, there are a few tips to keep in mind.

Firstly, make sure you communicate openly with your therapist about any concerns or discomfort you experience during the session.

You need a therapist you trust and get along well with to do this. That's why we offer the option to meet with our team first – in the form of a free Discovery Visit or Telephone Consultation, before committing to treatment to check that we're a good fit. 

Avoiding strenuous exercise immediately after your treatment is also important. Myofascial release therapy is powerful. Because it works with the entirety of your being, you may feel shifts and changes far from the area we worked. It is important to allow yourself to integrate these shifts and changes, rather than returning immediately to habitual postures and activities in habitual ways. 

Staying hydrated is always a good idea, as restrictions in the fascial system are also an indication of dehydration in the fascial system. As the tissues begin to move and glide again, they will also need hydrated.

Finally, try to incorporate some gentle at home myofascial treatment into your daily routine to help maintain the benefits of Myofascial Release with your therapist.

We can coach you on how best to do this based on your what you are currently experiencing.

In conclusion, John F. Barnes has given us (practitioners) many great gifts with his lifetime of work on Myofascial Release therapy – and we’re passing those gifts on to you.

With the help of Myofascial Release Therapy, you can gain relief from chronic conditions, accident, and injury and become healthier overall, even if healthcare professionals have told you that nothing can be done.

As more people become aware of the incredible benefits, we expect Myofascial Release Therapy and the health of the myofascial system to become the most recognized component of long term health and wellness. To try the treatment for yourself, book here. 

Michael Sudbury LMT

Michael Sudbury LMT

Michael has been in pursuit of uncommon wisdom practically since the day he was born. This has led him through many twists and turns, questioning philosophies and excelling in school only to drop out near the end, abandoning career paths. He has a scientific mind but has come to understand that life and love require artistry, not facts, figures, and protocols. In his pursuit of true therapeutic artistry, Michael has trained extensively with the creator of The John F. Barnes' Myofascial Release Approach®, John Barnes, PT, LMT, NCTMB (a therapist and teacher of the highest caliber) and has been an assistant instructor in his seminars.
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