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What is Myofascial Release?

Myofascial Release is a gentle approach which incorporates massage, craniosacral and visceral manipulation techniques to give a truly unique treatment experience. Because myofascial release gently treats the body as a whole living unit and calls upon its own healing potential, results can be relatively quick and potentially profound.  

It all starts with fascia....

What is a Fascia?

Fascia is a specialized web-like connective tissue that starts just beneath the skin and permeates throughout the body from head to toe, down to the cellular level, without interruption.  This specialized tissue not only surrounds and infuses throughout muscles, but also continues around and connects into all the bones, nerves, blood vessels, and organs. Made of both collagen and elastin, fascia is responsible for maintaining form and function through a system of tension forces acting upon compression elements.  This structured principal applied to the biology is called biotensegrity (life-tension-integrity).

The collagen in fascia provides considerable strength of upward of 2000 lbs per square inch, while the elastin component gives it the ability to adapt and change shape according to the types of force applied to it.  During periods of inflammation or repetitive strain from adhesions from injuries or scar tissue from surgeries, the gel-like fluid within fascia becomes compressed and dehydrated, leading to a loss of mobility of the tissue and fluidity of 3 dimensional movement.


Following an injury, inflammation occurs and, if left unchecked, causes thickening and hardening of the gel-like ground substance within the fascia.  This drying of the fluid medium causes the fascial web to bind down and tighten in.  As a result, crushing forces are exerted upon surrounding organs, vessels and nerves while range of motion is slowly lost and compensatory issues arise elsewhere. The crushing force is felt all the way to the cellular level where nutrients are processed and information is relayed. 

No matter where in the body an injury is experienced, there is not one part elsewhere that does not feel its effects.

Over time, through compensatory measures, the body is forced to adapt by changing its structure in an attempt to find a state of balance. However, in most cases, the initial injury or trauma never fully gets resolved and the body learns adaptive ways of coping with its restrictions.  Over time, months or years, areas in the body that are not designed to "take up the slack" of those areas being protected will begin to wear and produce painful symptoms often times in areas other than where the initial injury had occurred.

What is John Barnes Myofascial Release (JBMFR)?

The term Myofascial Release is a broad term to describe a treatment approach aimed at treating the restrictions and adhesions found in the fascia that greatly affect the body's functioning. 


John Barnes Myofascial Release (JBMFR) is a whole body approach that uses gentle sustained pressures and holding at the tissue's collagenous barrier in order to support and allow time for the tissue to soften, thereby restoring the fluidity of the tissue and healthy body positioning.  As the tissue softens over minutes, the varying pressures follows 3 dimensionally to take any slack in the tissue before waiting at the next restriction to soften. 

While being gently encouraged to feel and remain present with the sensations perceived, the person being treated begins to experience a deeper connection to their body by becoming aware of its own innate ability to self-regulate and self-adjust.  This “letting go” allows for deeper healing and an ability to adopt new and healthier holding patterns much easier.

Does JBMFR Hurt?

Treatments are gentle and supportive however some therapeutic discomfort can occur as the tissue is being released.  The experienced therapist always works within the client’s comfort zone and allows as much time as necessary for the discomfort to dissipate before engaging deeper restrictions.  Most instances where people become injured or flared up from manual therapy is because the therapy or its application is too aggressive.  The JBMFR approach to myofascial release eliminates the chance of being injured because the experienced therapist maintains gentle tension at the tissue’s tension barrier without forcing beyond.  When the tissue is given time to soften into, without having to guard against, the outcome is far more favourable and effective.

Encouragement is given to bring attention to any sensations or feelings as they arise.  More often than not, any discomfort that is experienced quickly dissipates once the client allows themselves to become present and soften into the treatment. 

Is Myofascial Release Effective? 

Yes. Myofascial release therapy has been proven to be highly effective in relieving pain and restoring form and function.  It is especially effective when combined with a strengthening and movement program such as Pilates.

Is Myofascial Release Safe?

There are very few risks associated with myofascial release therapy. That said, there are people for whom this kind of manual therapy is not ideal.

These include people with:

  • Burns or painful wounds

  • Fractures / broken bones

  • Cerebrovascular disease and deep vein thrombosis

What can Myofascial Release Help?

Myofascial release is often used to treat Myofascial Pain Syndrome (aka Fibromyalgia), a condition in which pressure on the muscles’ trigger points can cause pain in apparently unrelated areas of the body. This is not the only reason to use this kind of treatment, however. 

Patients experiencing chronic headaches and venous insufficiency can also benefit from myofascial release therapy. 

Other conditions that Myofascial release can help include:

  • Chronic pain

  • Post-surgical recovery

  • Scar release

  • Pelvic floor dysfunction

  • Inflammatory injuries/conditions

  • Postural dysfunction

  • Low back pain (lumbago)

  • Whiplash

  • Breast mastectomy / reduction / augmentation

  • Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJD or TMJ)

  • Digestive conditions

  • Pregnancy

Myofascial FAQs

Why is the therapist treating other areas of my body than where I'm feeling the pain?

Everything is connected through the extensive fascial network.  When one part of the body is injured or restricted other parts of the body must change in order to compensate for the lack of movement.  By listening to the wisdom and interconnectedness of the body, the therapist may be drawn to other areas that may seem unrelated at first but will be quickly connected once felt.  The client is able to then connect the relationship of that area being treated to the symptomatic issues they are initially there to treat.  

What is involved in the initial visit and how much does it cost?

During your initial 90-minute visit, a detailed health history will be taken outlining your past and present issues including any injuries, surgeries and traumas you've experienced.  Your posture will be assessed as well as a range of motion testing to help determine where to begin treatment.  This will be followed by your treatment which should last about an hour.  The cost of this initial visit is $150.  Follow-up 60 min sessions are $140.

What should I wear?

For it to be most effective, it is important to have skin on skin contact when doing Myofascial Release. It is suggested that you wear comfortable shorts and, for women, either a tank top, sports bra or two-piece bathing suit.  If needed shorts and tops are available upon request.

How long is it going to take to get better?

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to tell how many sessions one will need.  Everyone is different and will respond to treatments in their own way.  Typically, you should start seeing improvement within 1-3 treatments, however what you get out of the treatments will be reflected by what you put in.  Those people who are engaged in their rehabilitation, make the necessary lifestyle changes, and are ready to delve into and face the things they are holding onto and are holding them back will see the biggest results.  Those who take less responsibility will find their progress slower.  Wherever you are on your journey you will be given the necessary tools to help support you where needed.  Ultimately however it is up to you how fast you progress in your health.

Will I be sore after a Myofascial Release Treatment?

Everyone responds in their own way to an MFR treatment.  Following a treatment people often report feeling very relaxed and light with less pain and more flexibility.  It is common to become stiff and sore for a day or two as the body incorporates the changes that are gained from the therapy session.  However, it is common for people to have healing reactions as the layers of tension are removed and they begin to become more aware of areas of pain and dysfunction that will need further attention.  It's important to tune into the sensations that come up as this is the fascial voice guiding you to where you and your therapist must work next.

How many appointments will I need?

Following your initial visit, the frequency of your treatments will be determined based on your needs and goals.  This will range from 1-3 hours of treatments per week.  The more frequent and closer the treatments are, the faster the progress usually is.  Generally, the more acute a condition is, the fewer treatments will be needed whereas more chronic conditions will require more sessions.  As you begin to feel improvements, your treatments will be spaced further apart.  Self-care techniques and exercises will also be taught during your sessions which will speed your progress further should you incorporate them into your daily practice.   

For those people who have more extensive issues, an Enhanced Treatment Program can provide the most profound and effective way to get results in a shorter amount of time.  

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