Advanced Clinical Fascial Release Therapy

What is Fascial Release Therapy?

Fascial Release therapy is an extremely effective “hands on” therapy for the treatment of chronic injuries, pain discomfort and reduced mobility as well as for emotional holding patterns. Fascial Release is safe, gentle, permissive and effective; for many patients who feel they have tried everything Fascial Release can provide a very welcome relief from pain and discomfort. Fascial Release aims to treat injury at its source, allowing the patient to heal at the deepest level. Hands are placed directly on the skin, no oil is used and sustained, gentle pressure is applied into the body.  The “wait” time of the techniques allows the trained therapist to feel through and facilitate the release of restrictions deep within the fascial network. The time element is a vital factor as fascia cannot be forced, the body will resist if too much pressure is applied. Fascial Release Therapy, like many complementary therapies, promotes the philosophy that the mind and body work together to maintain health.

Fascial Release techniques help to remove the “straight jacket effect” from the body by releasing restricted fascia. A skilled therapist will look at and treat the entire body, releasing fascial restrictions, helping to restore balance, decrease pain, increase function and improve systemic health.

What is fascia?

Fascia is a strong connective tissue than runs like a 3D web throughout our entire body, from head to toe. Fascia surrounds blood and lymph vessels, infuses bones and organs, and protects every other tissue in the body. In healthy patients fascia is relaxed, providing a cushioning, supportive mechanism, allowing us to move safely without restriction or pain. Fascia is made up of collagen, elastin and ground substance (the non-cellular constituents of extracellular matrix); the time factor in the MFR techniques allows the collagen component to release.

The importance of fascia has been missed in scientific research for decades, for two main reasons;

  • Fascial restrictions do not show up on CAT scans, MRI or X-rays
  • Historically scientists worked on cadavers (dead bodies) and removed the fascia to look at muscles, bones, organs etc without recognising the importance of this continuous 3d web.

More recently Dr JC Gimberteau has used endoscopes to look inside the living human and realised the importance of a healthy fascial system. See clips:

What causes restrictions to occur?

Physical and emotional trauma, repetitive movements, poor posture, inflammation (from accidents as well as disease) and surgical procedures can all harden fascia.  The fascial network loses its strong, yet pliable consistency and internal structures can be pulled out of alignment, causing pain, restriction and reduced function. Frequently one restriction may lead to another, as we compensate to maintain our posture and health.  Traditional healthcare frequently labels and treats symptoms or groups of symptoms. The aim of Fascial Release is to look for and treat the cause of the pain and immobility at its deepest level, restoring health and function to the entire system.

How Fascial Release works

One restriction in the fascial network can lead to another, the job of the therapist is to peel off the layers and get to the root of the problem.

Memories can also become locked into the fascial system and manifest themselves in physical pain. With the help of Fascial Release the physical and emotional content of any injury can be addressed in a safe, gentle and effective way.

Most patients can feel subtle sensations as changes take place in their body. The experienced practitioner can also feel the fascial restrictions and the changes as they release during the session.

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How can Fascial Release help?

The aim of Fascial Release techniques is to reduce pain and increase function, treating the root cause of pain and dysfunction. A skilled therapist will slowly feel into the fascial network, using a variety of different techniques and responding to the needs of the patient. The patient learns to bring their attention into their body and begin to feel what is going on inside their body. The therapist works with the patient at all times, engaging them in the treatment.
Without feeling there is no healing.

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What the patient feels: This varies enormously: some patients will feel very little going on, others might feel pins and needles type sensations, heat or cold running through their body, others will feel referred sensations to a totally different area of the body, which gives an indication of further restrictions. As the fascia is released it literally unwinds, this can cause movement of or within the patient’s body. If the patient is aware of changes within their body it is helpful to communicate these to the practitioner. The therapist takes into consideration what they see in a postural assessment, and works directly with what they see, feel and sense during a session. Inevitably, there is a physical and emotional component to this work.

Why is Fascial Release different from other modalities?

The trained practitioner reads the body and responds to the needs of the patient. We do not just treat symptoms, but look beyond the symptom to the root cause. The time factor is essential in order for a restriction to fully release. Most traditional bodywork therapies do not allow sufficient time for the collagenous component of the fascia to release and therefore the results are temporary.

The elastic band analogy. If you take an elastic band and stretch it apart between your fingers, it will lengthen. As soon as you release it, the rubber band returns to its original length, producing temporary results just like traditional therapies. If however you put an elastic band around a book and leave it for 3-7 minutes, the elastic band will have lengthened, just like the lengthening of the body’s tissues. This is what MFR achieves – lasting results.

Articles relating to MFR:

Mind & Body
by John F Barnes PT, LMT, NCTMB

Crushing Pressure
by John F Barnes PT, LMT, NCTMB

Without Awareness, There Is No Choice!
by John F Barnes PT, LMT, NCTMB

Pouring water on a stone
by John F Barnes PT, LMT, NCTMB

Body wisdom
by John F Barnes PT, LMT, NCTMB

by John F Barnes PT, LMT, NCTMB

by John F Barnes PT, LMT, NCTMB