by John F. Barnes, P.T.

Health care has narrowly focused on the eradication of symptoms, paying no attention to the underlying cause—which from a myofascial release perspective is akin to a blockage of the flow of energy and information, with the resultant fascial restrictions literally down to the cellular level.

Symptom is a Greek word for sign or signal. Symptoms are not the problem. The symptom is signaling a deeper problem, many times located far away from the location of the symptom. We must view the diagnosis and symptoms as a starting point. The skilled myofascial release therapist then discovers and releases the fascial restrictions to address the cause of the symptoms.

“Cancer isn’t one disease; it’s dozens of them, each with different mechanisms that make the fight diabolically difficult,” noted a recent TIME magazine article. “The most pernicious forms of cancer—among them, pancreatic, lung, and brain—are still nearly invincible. Survival rates in rare forms of cancer aren’t budging much, either. And the cancer arsenal is still heavy on the blunderbuss—blasting the body with harsh chemotherapy and radiation that take a huge toll on healthy as well as diseased tissue.”

A blunderbuss is a muzzle-loading firearm with a short barrel and flared muzzle that damages everything in its range. The blunderbuss approach is too limited, and there needs to be exploration of new possibilities.

Traditional health care’s reductionist mindset has wasted billions of dollars, with very limited results. Consider the following excerpts from a recent Newsweek magazine article. (Although the article is focused on cancer, these examples can be applied to many diagnoses.)

“Cancer is on track to kill 565,650 people in the United States this year—more than 1,500 a day, equivalent to three jumbo jets crashing and killing everybody aboard 365 days a year,” the article stated. “First, it shows the disconnect between the bench and the bedside, between what science has discovered about cancer and how doctors treat it … Indeed, it is possible (and common) for cancer researchers to achieve extraordinary acclaim and success, measured by grants, awards, professorships and papers in leading journals, without ever helping a single patient gain a single extra day of life. There is no pressure within science to make that happen. It is no coincidence that the ratio of useful therapy per basic discovery is abysmal.”

This is so disturbing. This is the unfortunate, classic example of only relying on the intellectual, reductionist mode of thinking, paying no attention to the bigger picture and the ultimate purpose of research. Here is another interesting quote from the Newsweek article: “Another missed opportunity involves the environment around a tumor cell. ‘We used to focus on cancer cells with the idea that they were master of their own destiny,’ says MIT’s [Robert A.] Weinburg. ‘By studying genes inside the cell we thought we could understand what was going on. But now [we know] that many tumors are governed by the signals they receive from the outside—from inflammatory cells, cells of the immune system and others. It’s the interaction of signals inside and outside the tumor cells that creates aggressiveness and metastasis.'”

The environment of every cell, the ground substance of the fascia (the big picture), has been ignored as if we were just separate pieces, like cogs in a mindless machine. Recent scientific discoveries have shown the ground substance of the fascial system is the environment of every cell of our body, and within every cell is a microfascial network.

James Oschman, author of Energy Medicine in Therapeutics and Human Performance, stated a copious amount of new research has shown what is called disease is actually caused by a thwarted inflammatory response.

Inflammation is an important part of the healing process. When inflammation is thwarted, the fluidity of the ground substance begins to dehydrate and solidify. It has been estimated that a 10-percent reduction of the fluidity of the soft tissue decreases its ability to conduct energy/information by 1 millionfold. It is important to understand this hardening of the fascial ground substance can crush the cells, blocking proper cellular communication, nutrition, oxygenation and elimination. Therefore, fascial restrictions can also impede the normal flow of biochemistry, hormones and neuropeptides throughout the mind-body complex.

Consider the new research from Lynn McTaggerts’s book, The Field. The scientists she interviewed from around the world had discovered “a new science, a radically new view of the world that overthrows the current laws of biology, chemistry, and physics!

“Scientists have discovered that in healthy individuals the quantum light that is emitted is highly organized. It is more chaotic in people who are ill. Cancer patients have lost the organization of this internal energy so that the subatomic communication between various parts of the body has broken down. In effect, their light is going out,” McTaggert wrote. “It may well be that all illness is a kind of scrambling of frequency.”

Albert Einstein’s revolutionary equation, E=mc², means energy equals mass times the square of the speed of light. Another way of stating this is, solidity is an illusion. Einstein’s famous equation demonstrates what we perceive as solid, liquid and gas are actually different frequencies of energetic vibration.

Einstein said “most scientists are not true scientists. Most are mere technicians just regurgitating inaccurate facts they learned from others. True scientists use their imaginative mind with their logical rational abilities.” Einstein also said none of his great concepts came from his intellectual, linear mind, but from intuitive flashes of visual insight. He then used his logical mind to translate what his imagination had seen or felt into linear concepts to be able to communicate these ideas to others. Einstein speculated rational science reveals only the external appearances of some deeper reality.

Traditional medicine ignored Einstein’s amazing insights and proceeded to treat us as if we were objects, bags of chemicals or mindless machines. This obsolete view of the conscious human being has degraded to the biochemistry of disease. This is not health care.

Myofascial release has the ability to change the energetic frequency of solidity into the vibration of fluid, so that biochemistry, hormones, energy, information and consciousness can flow to enhance healing and the return to function, ease and health.

Isn’t it time for traditional health care to drop the blunderbuss and consider the importance of myofascial release on cellular health and the proper physiological functioning of the human being? No one is suggesting people should not seek medical advice. Medicine, radiation or surgery is necessary at times. But, maybe the inclusion of myofascial release and its potential benefit to biochemistry and cellular function might be helpful in eliminating the cause of many diagnostic labels or enhancing the effect of medication, radiation or surgery when necessary.

If you put a rat in a maze and put a piece of cheese in one of the tunnels, the rat will explore every tunnel until it finds the cheese. If you put a human in the maze, and he only uses his linear, reductionist mentality, he will go down the same tunnel, over and over again, because the cheese “should” be there. Researchers need to understand there are other tunnels to be explored.

John F. Barnes, MASSAGE MagazineJohn F. Barnes, P.T., L.M.T., N.C.T.M.B., is an acknowledged expert in the area of myofascial release. He has instructed thousands of therapists worldwide in his Myofascial Release Approach, and he is the author of Myofascial Release: the Search for Excellence (Rehabilitation Services Inc., 1990) and Healing Ancient Wounds: The Renegade’s Wisdom (MFR Treatment Centers & Seminars, 2000). For more information, visit