MyoFascial Release and Wellness of Tampa Bay


What is Myofascial Release?

Myofascial Release is a gentle, safe, highly effective, whole-body approach to treating the fascial system. Myofascial Release uses skilled, manual techniques to apply gentle sustained pressure into the fascia to reduce and eliminate fascial restrictions. Myofascial Release also uses the element of “time” 5 minutes or longer at the tissue barrier, to allow the facial to release naturally and not by force as in other methods.  Myofascial Release has been extremely successful in treating all levels of pain, restoring function and mobility, and improving overall cellular health.

The fascial system is considered one of the most influential systems of the body due to its anatomical and physiological role. To fully comprehend the Myofascial Release, it is important to understand the significance of fascia. The “myofascial” or “fascial” system is a 3-D web of connective tissue that surrounds, infiltrates, and connects every tissue, organ, and cell of your body from head to toe and skin to spine. It’s function is to provide support and structure to the body as well as work as a bracing mechanism from injuries.

It can be difficult to visualize the impact of this tissue. An easier comparison is in a bowl of jello with pieces of fruit floating in it. The fruit represents the muscles, bones and organs, while the jello is the fascia. All the fruit is saturated and suspended within the jello (fascia). Just as the fascia is a continuous web that responds to tensions in other area of the body, the jello displays the same effect when jiggled in one area, it causes movement in another area in the bowl. The energy is transferred easily through the tissue.

MFR techniques involve the precise application of sustained pressure into the client’s body by the therapist. The sustained pressure, between 3 to 5 minutes, creates powerful phenomena: piezoelectricity, mechano -transduction, phase transition and ultimately resonance and release. The end result is the rehydration of the fascial matrix, the return of fluids through the ground substance and the release of crushing pressure off sensitive structures. The patient feels relief and can begin to return to full function.

John Barnes, PT, developed MFR 50 years ago to address his own severe back pain that was not resolved with surgical intervention. He knew first hand that scar tissue from his back surgery, along with multiple sports injuries over time, had turned his body to stone. He was lead by divine intervention and superior intellect to begin applying pressure to the areas that were painful and restricted. He was amazed that something so simple gave him tremendous relief! He realized then that the importance of fascia had been overlooked in Western Medicine. Thus, he began his lifelong study of fascia and its role in human health and developed his unique and powerful hands-on approach to healing, Myofascial Release.

Fascia, or connective tissue, is made up of collagen, elastin and ground substance. It connects all the cells of the body together in a 3-dimensional spider web. Collagen and elastin act as shock absorbers and provide structure, along with providing the body its ability to stretch and recoil. Healthy ground substance is a gel-like substance that transports water, proteins and sugars to all the cells of the body. When fascia is damaged, the ground substance loses its fluidity and solidifies. Damaged ground substance places up to 2,000 pounds per square inch of pressure on delicate nerves, blood vessels, organs, muscles and bones. This crushing pressure causes pain and dysfunction.

What is Fascia?

Fascia Fascia is a strong connective tissue that spreads throughout the body from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet, 3-Dimensionally, without interruption. Fascia is similar to the threads in a fabric. It is an interwoven fibrous net that covers and encapsulates every structure in the body including bones, muscles, organs, nerves and blood vessels, all the way down to the cellular level. Fascia surrounds every single cell in the body! Because of fascia’s orientation and lay out, many times a patient may experience pain and symptoms in one area, while the restriction is in a completely different part of the body. For example, a patient experiencing headaches may have restrictions in the pelvis and lower back.  Recall the bowl of jello described above.

The Role and Function of Fascia

Fascia at the cellular level creates the environment and space each cell needs to perform its essential functions: cellular respiration, elimination, nutrition, protection, metabolism and lymphatic flow. The fascial system binds the human body into an integral whole to allow proper function of structures and organs. It is fascia that keeps us upright against gravity to support our posture and movement three dimensionally. Fascia also acts as a shock absorber. Therefore, its elasticity and fluidity is crucial for protecting our body from injury and trauma. In a normal healthy state, fascia is hydrated and pliable, with the ability to glide and stretch freely. Through injury, trauma, surgery, overuse and postural compensations, fascia loses its natural form and becomes twisted, hardened and tough – similar to leather or beef jerky. Prolonged stress, tension, and emotional upset can also contribute to fascial restrictions.

Myofascial restrictions are believed to exert crushing pressure on the muscular and skeletal systems as well on other pain sensitive structures, like nerves and blood vessels. This enormous pressure, more than 2,000 pounds per square inch, is equivalent to a horse standing on a penny! It’s no wonder we hurt! Restrictions can also create pressure on organs, and even whole-systems, which over time can lead to dysfunction and disease. Because fascial restrictions do not show up on any standardized tests, such as MRI’s, CAT Scans, EMG’s, X-Rays, or even blood work, many patients are suffering with unresolved pain, dysfunction, loss of motion, and unexplained symptoms.

It can be difficult to visualize the impact of this tissue. An easier comparison is in a bowl of jello with pieces of fruit floating in it. The fruit represents the muscles, bones and organs, while the jello is the fascia. All the fruit is saturated and suspended within the jello (fascia). Just as the fascia is a continuous web that responds to tensions in other area of the body, the jello displays the same effect when jiggled in one area, it causes movement in an other area in the bowl. The energy is transferred easily through the tissue.

What causes Myofascial Restrictions?


Why is Myofascial Release so Effective?

IMG_0302Most traditional forms of treatment simply treat the patient’s symptoms while ignoring the underlying cause. This explains why so many patients only experience short-term results, or eventually reach a plateau in their healing. Many times if a patients condition continues unresolved for a significant period of time, they may slowly begin to experience “new symptoms” while their original condition grows more complex and becomes more difficult to manage. The John Barnes Myofascial Release Approach (JFB-MFR) has proven to be highly effective because it treats the person as a whole, including the entire myofascial complex. Each patient is evaluated, assessed and treated as a unique individual and treatment is specific to their needs and goals. The JFB-MFR Approach creates long-term permanent changes that carry-over into a personal lifestyle while bringing awareness to the body-mind connection. The goal of Myofascial Release is to eliminate pain, restore function and movement, and help patients find authentic healing so that they can achieve the highest quality of life possible. This is the future of healthcare.

What Are Women’s and Men’s Health Issues and why Pelvic Treatment is so important

Bladder Issues are helped with MFR decreases the tightness and spasm in the pelvic floor muscles and tissues surrounding the bladder to regain normal function which can cause – Urgency, Frequency, Incontinence, Overactive Bladder, and Leakage.

Endometriosis is inflammation in the lining of the uterine cavity, or endometrial cells that leads to pelvic pain or infertility. MFR decreases tightness and fascial restrictions surrounding the pelvis to eliminate inflammation and pain.

Infertility- MFR decreases tissue restrictions in the abdominal area, pelvic floor, and surrounding reproductive organs to enable conception and ensure the healthiest pregnancy possible.

Interstitial Cystitis – causes urinary frequency, urgency associated with pain in the pelvis and bladder that increases with filling of the bladder. Can also be associated with painful urination, painful intercourse, and pelvic floor dysfunction making it difficult to initiate urination. MFR decreases tightness and fascial restrictions surrounding the pelvis and bladder to restore normal bladder and reproductive organ functions.

Menstrual Problems noted by irregular or painful menstrual cycles. MFR decreases tightness in tissues of the abdominal area and pelvic floor to achieve regular, pain-free menstrual cycles.

Pelvic Pain – Chronic and persistent pain throughout the pelvic and abdominal areas.  MFR decreases tightness of tissues surrounding the pelvic and abdominal areas to eliminate symptoms.

Pudendal Nerve Entrapment is a type of chronic pelvic pain that is caused by compression of the pudendal nerve by tight fascia, muscles, or internal scar tissue/adhesions. Symptoms include pain, tingling, numbness, burning, or stabbing sensations in the vulva, vagina, urethra, rectum, and perineum. This condition is also associated with painful intercourse, impotence, and bladder or bowel incontinence. There is generally much discomfort with sitting. Pudendal nerve entrapment can also be caused by pregnancy, surgical scarring and trauma/accidents.  MFR can help by providing gentle, sustained hands-on stretching into the areas of fascial restriction, Myofascial Release can restore the necessary slack to the system to take the pressure off of the pudendal nerve. This helps to eliminate pain and improve the ability to sit, engage in intercourse, and maintain continence.

Scars (hypertrophic, hypersensitive, painful, burn scars, mastectomy scars)  are caused by Fibrous tissue that develops with healing of the skin after trauma, surgery or burns resulting in pain, sensitivity, numbness, tingling, or dense buildup of tissue in affected areas.  MFR decreases tightness of scar tissue to alleviate pain, restore normal sensation, and decrease thickness of scar tissue.

Vulvodynia Persistent vulvar burning, pain, and discomfort.  MFR decreases tightness and tissue restrictions surrounding the pelvic area and reproductive organs to eliminate problematic symptoms.

What is Pediatric Myofascial Release?

bumm_369_lgBirth Injuries is a wide category that includes any trauma that a baby may experience during the birthing process or immediately after being born. Use of forceps, posterior births, breach births, and anything that can add stress or physical trauma to the newborn is considered a birthing trauma.  Myofascial Release can help to improve soft tissue mobility, improve muscle tone, decrease abnormal movement patterns and increase overall functional mobility. Although Myofascial Release does not eliminate the dysfunction in the brain, it does help to minimize tightness in the fascial system to help improve overall mobility, flexibility and function. Myofascial Release can also help to eliminate seizures and the need for seizure medications, prevent or slow joint contractures, improve posture, and decrease pressure within the joints. Myofascial Release should be part of a comprehensive treatment program for individuals with cerebral palsy or any other type of abnormal functioning of the body. Myofascial Release is especially indicated during growth spurts, a significant loss in functional mobility, or if seizure activity returns or increases.

What is Aquatic Myofascial Release?

To begin a Mermaid Fascial Freedom™ session, we start with a brief standing postural assessment on the pool steps in our beautiful, warm indoor pool room. Then the client enters the delicious, 94-degree saltwater therapy pool, either by the stairs or the hydraulic lift. Special neoprene leg floats designed for aquatic bodywork are wrapped around each leg, just below the knees. New, silicone ear plugs are offered and fitted to sensitive ears that do not like to get wet. Then, a soft, supportive fabric float is placed under the neck and the client leans back and floats with the therapist assisting and keeping them safe at all times.

Floating in warm water is deeply relaxing and therapeutic. The properties of warm water such as hydrostatic pressure and buoyancy help create changes in the body that alleviate edema, pain and create improvements in range of motion. Lasting pain relief is possible when immersion in warm water is combined with Barnes’ Myofascial Release Approach© techniques. A Mermaid Fascial Release™ session generally lasts an hour and provides a 3-dimensional, hands-on treatment to many areas of the body.


What Myofascial Release Yoga?

The word Myo means ‘muscle’ and the word fascia means ‘band’ (or connective tissue), so when you hear the phrase myofascial yoga, or myofascial release, we are talking about connective bands and spaces all around and within the muscle. But fascia is so much more than that.

I like to think of fascia as a bridge between the physical body and the yogic energy system. Yoga philosophy teaches that there are layers of subtle energy or prana that link us to an expanded field of consciousness. This energy body houses our life force and higher consciousness, which trickles down into our physical body. Without that ongoing process of prana entering our body, we very quickly get lethargic, depressed or sick. Part of the amazingness of yoga is how it puts practitioners in touch with the energy body. From there, we can learn how to rejuvenate ourselves on all levels.

In the yogic system, the body is considered a mirror of our belief system, and our connection with Divinity. But how exactly does this work? How are subtle thoughts and beliefs held in our energy body mirrored in the physical body? How does the prana entering our system slow down or get restricted in the physical form. My feeling is that understanding fascia, and how it works as a system is the key to understanding this cosmic mystery.

What to Expect with Myofascial Treatment

Each MFR treatment session is performed directly on skin without oils, creams or machinery. This enables me to accurately detect fascial restrictions and apply the appropriate amount of sustained pressure to facilitate the release of the fascia. A posture analysis is performed both in standing and lying down to find the beginning layers of the restrictions. You will be dressed with a sports, regular bra or bathing suit for women and shorts, bathing suit bottom or underwear and please no lotion prior to treatment.    Once the treatment begins by applying various techniques within the body’s limits, never forcing structures. The highly skilled therapists can feel subtle changes within the tissue and are acutely aware of pain and tissue limits. This is why your therapist rarely needs to ask about pain levels during treatment. Your tissue is giving them constant feedback that allows for them to appropriately adjust during the treatment. However, your feedback is always welcome.

For each person, the treatment can feel different depending on acuteness, pain levels and level of restrictions present. In general, the sensations are gentle but powerful. The sustained stretch on the fascial tissue held by the therapist can feel subtle at first but grow in sensation.  Everything from a feeling of being stretched, to temperature changes, or a reproduction of pain, to a feeling as though the tissue is vibrating may be experienced. It is even common to have strong emotional responses as the tissue can be holding energy from past physical or emotional traumas. As the tissue releases these sensation subside leaving new mobility in previously adhered tissue.

It is normal for there to be some soreness for a day or two after treatment. This is often due to the new alignment of the body and the corresponding changes in the tissues because of it. Areas previously tight are looser and likely weak, so fatigue appears. Correction of bone alignments can create stretches on previously shortened tissue giving a sensation of pulling/stretch. Although soreness may occur, it will not be damaged and the difference is notable in the sensations felt.

What Should I Expect for My First Treatment

The first appointment a review of your intake for to see if there are any changes since you submitted back to me and review where you have your pain or dysfunction today. Next you will receive hands on treatment and we will end with the implementation of a myofascial self care program designed for your needs, goals and written/visual aides paper or a viewable PDF file and a self treatment tool.  An discussion after the hands on session where we will discuss needs, goals, fascia and answer any questions. (Your self care program review, progression and revision is at the end of every session and questions and concerns addressed at any time via phone or email). A follow-up within 24-36 hours if you wish be email or phone. The first appointment please plan for 2 hours or less if desired. Goals – are what you want to receive from therapy. Usually goals are simply to get out of pain but you will find that sometimes they become more than you realized. They are as unique and individual as you are and can be revised. Goals are a means be which they evolve and change as you do with each release of pain and restrictions.

How Many Sessions Do I Need?

That is based on you the individual with your needs. Some problems are simple and others complex. Everyone needs a different amount of treatment. Usually you will feel changes beginning in the first couple of treatments.  Just one session can make a life time of changes.  Again this is a general guideline with a moderately complex set of needs. Most chronic conditions didn’t happen overnight and cannot be unraveled overnight either. In most cases maintenance or intermittent follow up is helpful to prevent the return of symptoms or to keep you at your optimum. The goal is to return you to peak level of performance. Maintenance treatments are wonderful to keep any new issue from becoming a restriction. They are also a way to review and revise and progress your self care. Because our bodies remember here and now as well as before. The longer held tissue memories the easier it is for the body to return to that position. Initially for more complex longer held symptoms and dysfunctions the more frequent the visits. There is not set standard of how many and how often, that is traditional methods of health care.  Making the dedication to engaging self-care outside of a treatment is optimal.  The goal is not to keep you coming without an end in sight.  The goal is to progress to maintenance as the situation improves and rehabilitation and goals are achieved . This reduces the tissue memory and the return of your symptoms. It takes time to overcome the tissue memory. This is again is also where implementing the “homework” “self-care” is so important. Think of therapy as going to the hygenist for deeper cleaning and self care as the daily brushing and flossing of your teeth. My goal always is for you to return to a fully active life and in achieving TRUE rehabilitation. Whatever frequency you can manage is effective and you have to start with at least one session. I will offer a treatment package designed to help meet the goals for you.

For Further Information

Email Heather