Unfortunately, “Physical Therapy” has sometimes been understood to be synonymous with “Pain and Torture.” Speaking of physical therapy also brings to mind things like hot packs, electrical stimulation, massage, painful interventions, and lists of exercises. While each of those interventions may have its place, without attention to the surrounding fascia, the measurable improvements to the client are limited.
Fascia is a three dimensional web of connective tissue that surrounds every bone, muscle, nerve, vessel, organ, and structure in the human body. Until recently, it’s function was unknown and ignored. Fascia (and thus, restrictions in fascia) cannot be seen using traditional imaging including x-rays, MRI, CAT scans, myelograms, or electromyography. That probably means that many people suffering from the effects of myofascial restrictions go undiagnosed and therefore continue to suffer with no end in sight. Thankfully, modern and intuitive researchers and therapists have begun to shed light on the critical and central role that fascia plays in both physiological and emotional processes. Like saran wrap, it can get “stuck” (restricted) due to injury, inflammation, habitually poor posture, or surgery. Like a spider web, the whole web is distorted when some creature gets caught. These restrictions then act like a “straitjacket”, compressing pain-sensitive structures with tensile pressures of up to 2000 pounds per square inch! While this begins at the site of injury, restrictions can also develop in the “web”, referring pain to seemingly unrelated locations all over the body. This can explain why myofascial restrictions in the pelvis, for example, can lead to headaches or TMJ issues.
Our western medical approach responds with medication meant to dull or numb the pain, but this does not address the source. Traditional therapies have, historically, also aimed at the location of pain, but were largely ignorant about the role of fascia in pain and dysfunction. Many good providers, dispensing their best interventions, gained only unsatisfactory results with even their most compliant patients.
The John F. Barnes Myofascial Release Approach ® uses gentle, manual pressures, applied to fascial restrictions over a period of time. This allows the fascia to elongate rather than resist the traditional, more aggressive forces. The techniques are safe, effective, and lasting.