What does it mean when "things hurt more" after your myofascial release sessions? - Release Works Myofascial Therapy
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What does it mean when “things hurt more” after your myofascial release sessions?

When Things Hurt, It Is Time To Seek Help!

I recently spent a week at John Barnes’ Myofascial Release Clinic, Therapy on the Rocks, in Sedona, AZ as a client receiving treatment.

I learned a lot about how my body responds to pain signals and the meaning I take from them. I also learned a bit about how that influences my perception of progress and what exactly it is I think is happening when things hurt more.

In particular, my intake paperwork at the beginning of the week looked something like this. With the shaded areas representing where I was having difficulty. Trouble at the back of my head and neck on the right side, pain in the back of my left hip, or left side of my low back. Much tension in my right thigh. And trouble with tightness in the left ankle.

Sometimes things hurt more

I do some myofascial self treatment every day, yet these have been some long standing problem areas that just don’t seem to change much. They don’t cause me much trouble until I ignore them, and then it takes a bit of work to get them under control again and to a point where I again don’t think about them much.

I was hoping an intensive week of treatment could help break whatever patterns and habits were holding some of these pain patterns in place.

But What About When You Get Help And Now Things Hurt More Than They Already Did?!

After 15 1/2 hours of treatment during the week, my post program paperwork looked something like this. With shaded areas representing where I was now experiencing difficulty, at the end of the treatment program.

What does it mean when things hurt more?


It would be fair to wonder if the diagrams somehow got reversed. There are a lot more shaded areas on the post program diagram.

The diagrams didn’t get reversed, though.

It was not an easy week of treatment, with my functional mobility decreasing and awareness of difficulty (pain) increasing as the week progressed.

Wednesday was a tough day. One hip hurt when I initially started the week, and by Wednesday both hips hurt and I was having trouble bending my legs to put on my shoes. As much as I am familiar with how progress and change happen, I was seriously wondering why I had chosen to seek intensive help.

Seriously, things hurt more.

Thursday was similar, with both sides of my neck now hurting as well as my hips. And legs. And left foot in a different way. I wasn’t sleeping well which wasn’t really anything new (different story . . . ), but I was exhausted! And logic says that should have been enough for at least one solid night of sleep, even if only the exhausted type.

So What Might It Really Mean When Things Hurt More?

I turned in my exit paperwork (that included the second picture above) at the start of the 5th myofascial treatment day, Friday.

And had an interesting conversation with the therapist doing the exit interview.

She commented that the increased number of shaded areas was revealing. That is looked like my awareness of my body had significantly increased during the week.

She was correct. It had.

She commented that it looked like maybe I came into the week a bit numbed out.

And again she was correct. I did. My perception was that I had been doing okay.

But I wasn’t. I was just a bit numb in my body.

I didn’t have the words for it, but I knew travel was harder than usual over the holidays. I knew there were some things I was dealing with in life that were increasing my stress a bit. I knew I was having trouble keeping ahead of my own self treatment and that in fact things hurt more than they had in a long time. It was part of the reason I scheduled the week of treatment for myself.

Like many people, though, I was pretty good at ignoring it. And hoping it would somehow magically go away.

** News flash ** It never does.

A week of intensive treatment brought a great deal more awareness to my body. Much needed awareness.

The shaded areas at the end of the program were lighter. My awareness of difficulty was almost constant, but my attachment to it as “a problem” was much less. My ability to move (walk, bend, go up and down stairs) was returning by the end of the 5th day. And even as I type this a few hours later, my head is feeling much better.

Without Awareness There Is No Choice

John Barnes, the father of the Myofascial Release, teaches that without awareness there is no choice. It is one of the many things I have heard multiple times in seminars and trainings. It was not a coincidence that I randomly pulled that saying along with another from a deck of cards at the beginning of the week.

Without awareness there is no choice

What I found as I allowed my body to soften into the things I had been holding tight absolutely was (and is) increased awareness of my body, increased awareness of my thoughts/mind, and increased awareness of my emotions and what I habitually do with things that are uncomfortable.

With that increased awareness, I can now choose differently. And, in the words of the Rob Maggio, head therapist at Therapy on the Rocks, that is how change happens.

I have a sense of how I can approach my self treatment a bit differently, a sense of where I might catch myself returning to patterns, and a sense of what increased space and fluidity in my body and mind feel like.

What does it mean when things hurt more as you move through treatment sessions and self treatment sessions? Perhaps it simply means you have been a bit numbed out. And that you are starting to gain more awareness of your body, your thoughts, your patterns, your habits.

And with that increased awareness you can now start to choose in a way that will create change.

It really is that simple.

What Can Happen When Your Perception Changes? Almost Anything!

It has taken me almost 9 years as a client and therapist to feel that I am truly beginning to understand.

The possibilities from here forward are exciting to feel into.

This is a lifetime journey of change for me. A lifetime journey of better care for my one body. It doesn’t really matter that is has taken 9 years to get to this point. And it won’t matter when I look back and see that this is simply another pivot point for change and that there is still so much I don’t know.

I know that when things hurt more, my awareness of my body and thoughts and patterns and habits is increasing in a way that can give me information to make choices that will lead to change.

I need that. I believe everyone does.

Want to know more?

Check out some of our recent blogs.

What Does The Best Care For Your One Body Mean?

Level Up Your Myofascial Self Treatment

What Makes Working With Us Different?

And as always, you can reach out here if you would like to chat.

Vanetta Servoss

Vanetta Servoss

Specialist Myofascial Release Therapist Vanetta loves her work as a myofascial release therapist! She was introduced to myofascial release as a client struggling with debilitating headaches, dizziness, pain, and muscle tension. Traditional medicine did little to provide relief, and it wasn't until she began seeing a mfr therapist that she started seeing change. She knows first hand how it feels to be trapped in pain with little hope for recovery. Or to be given a diagnostic label like fibromyalgia with little recourse other than dependence on prescription medications. She no longer believes those are the only options available to those struggling with pain or loss of mobility, and credits mfr with helping her get her life back. She considers it a privilege to assist others in their journey. Vanetta's formal education includes an undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University and a Master's degree in Health Promotion from Mississippi State University. She is also a licensed massage therapist and has trained extensively in the John Barnes' Myofascial Release approach. Vanetta loves to travel and explore other places. She now enjoys that active lifestyle she once thought was no longer possible, and can frequently be found outside enjoying the sunshine and hiking the trails of Utah, Idaho, and Arizona.
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