If you’re into fitness, you’ve likely heard of myofascial release therapy. If you haven’t, where have you been? Myofascial release (MFR) is a type of physical therapy that is used in recovery post-workout, to stretch out the muscles and release the fascia so you are able to enjoy full range of motion, mobility and flexibility during your workouts. In this article we’re going to introduce you to the John. F Barnes MFR approach, to explore how you can benefit from it.

What is myofascial release?

Fascia is a sheet of connective tissue, made predominantly of collagen, that holds everything together in the body. It is what researchers have referred to as the missing puzzle piece of biology: it’s not our skin that holds together our organs, water and skin, it’s actually fascia. It covers every aspect of the body, keeping all our internal systems able to function properly, to stabilize movements, to protect against damage and to reduce friction between joints.

When you engage in strenuous physical activity or strain your muscles due to repeated movement – like if you’re running – you can cause adhesions in fascia which causes pain, tension and reduced mobility. Essentially, when your muscles get tight, so does your fascia. All these factors impact your performance, so are not recommended if you want to keep progressing physically.

 

What is the John. F Barnes’ Myofascial Release Approach? 

Within myofascial release therapy, there are multiple different types and approaches. The John. F Barnes approach is considered the ‘ultimate therapy’, with more than 100,000 therapists and physicians globally. As with other types of MFR, the focus is on releasing the fascia to improve mobility and reduce pain. However, there are a few key differences in this specific technique.

Standard MFR involves hands on manipulation, kneading the tissue over and over, and using tools like foam rollers. However, according to John. F Barnes, this causes more inflammation, tearing the cross links of the fascia. This led to the creation of his unique approach.

The John. F Barnes approach is rooted in an understanding of the physics of how the fluid moves through the fascial system. The mucopolysaccharide gel of the fascial web can be fluid-like or gel-like, depending on its tightness. In the case of muscular pain, the fascial web is a gel-like substance, inhibiting movement. The John. F Barnes approach involves using sustained pressure on the body at the fascial restriction barrier.

According to John F. Barnes himself, this approach is more than just an assemblage of techniques. It creates a whole-body awareness, for total resolution of restrictions to relieve the patient of pain for good.

 

What happens during a John. F Barnes myofascial release massage?

Unlike typical MFR, no lotion is used. The therapist will place gentle yet firm tension on the tissues in the restricted areas and rather than rubbing and massage the area, the therapist will perform a hold.

The length of the hold depends on the tightness of the fascia and the client’s tension, but typically between up to 5 minutes, in which the therapist pays ‘mindful attention to the entire body/mind web’. During this time, the mucopolysaccharide gel essentially melts, becoming more fluid, naturally allowing the collagen to elongate back to its pre-shortened length. As well as this, anti-inflammatory interleukins are released to heal the damage, so that by the time the therapist releases the pressure, the damaged tissue is in the process of authentic healing.

The Barnes approach also incorporates rebounding and unwinding techniques, to ensure the whole mind-body connection is healed so the pain does not return. You can release your fascia by visiting a Myfascial Release Specialist, who has been trained and certified in the John. F Barnes approach.

 

What are the benefits of a myofascial release massage?

Myofascial release alleviates the pain caused by tight fascia, which is the primary goal of myofascial release massage. However there are numerous other benefits that make this type of massage appealing, these include:

  • Releasing knots
  • Decreasing trigger points and referral pain
  • Increase range of motion
  • Increase flexibility
  • Improve physical performance
  • Improve circulation
  • Flush out toxins and metabolites
  • Accelerate recovery post-workout
  • Reduce exercise related muscle soreness

 

Is there any research on myofascial release?

If you’re skeptical and need a little more evidence before you invest in this type of physical therapy, here is some of the research on myofascial release.

A case study detailed on John. F Barnes website covers the transformation of a 15 year old girl with scoliosis. After receiving Barnes’ MFR treatment for a two week intensive treatment, her spine restructured within the first three days of the program. By the end, her scoliosis decreased by 8 degrees. She had an increase in trunk range of motion of up to 50 percent. She was able to avoid surgery, discarded her back brace and continue with her life, pain-free.

A systematic review on myofascial release was published in Current Sports Medicine Reports in 2015 and found that in nine separate studies, myofascial release was shown to significantly improve range of motion, soreness and muscle fatigue following exercise. The researchers concluded that it is an essential aid in performance and recovery.

Another study compared myofascial release massage to swedish massage in a group of participants with fibromyalgia, finding that MFR was better able to reduce pain in the neck and upper back region.

 

Who should get a myofascial release massage?

In our current day and age, most people can benefit from a myofascial release massage. These include those who:

  • Engage in regular and/or strenuous exercise
  • Engage in intensive competitions/races like Spartan races or marathons
  • Regularly repeat the same movement e.g. long distance running, powerlifting
  • Walk long distances
  • Stand for long periods of time e.g. bartender
  • Spend most of your day sitting down
  • Have poor posture
  • Experience muscle pain or stiffness
  • Are recovering from an injury
  • Have been diagnosed with myofascial pain syndrome

All these factors cause muscle tightness and adhesions in fascia that need to be released – so what are you waiting for?!

 

Self-myofascial release

Alongside your sessions with a John. F Barnes myofascial release therapist, you can also perform self-myofascial release. You can do this by manipulating the fascia using a rolling motion, similar to rolling out dough to remove the lumps and bumps.

Studies have backed up the use of self-myofascial release massage for athletes, individuals experiencing joint or muscle pain or who are experiencing chronic tightness. This impacts your quality of life, but it doesn’t need to. Getting a myofascial release massage regularly will ensure your fascia is smooth and elastic, so you can function optimally.

If you are interested in getting a myofascial release massage click this link to arrange it now. We are looking forward to seeing you.