From the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Myofasical Techniques for the Medial and Lateral Pterygoids,” by Til Luchau and Bethany Ward in the July 2010 issue. Article summary: As useful as jaws are, they do come with complications. In modern humans, primary among these are temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders (TMJMD or TMD), or temporomandibular joint syndrome. These umbrella terms describe conditions characterized by biting discomfort, jaw clicking, facial and jaw pain, earaches, headaches, gastric disturbance, and restricted jaw motion, among other symptoms. Fortunately, there are effective ways hands-on work can help relieve and prevent the symptoms associated with TMD.

by John F. Barnes, P.T.

Pain has been viewed from two different perspectives: “mask the pain” and “no pain, no gain.”

The first school of thought was to avoid pain, mask the symptoms and teach the client to cope with his problem. This approach did not cause direct trauma, but forced people to be satisfied with limited results. There was the possibility of cumulative trauma occurring, since untreated restrictions caused microtrauma to the client’s system over time. This microtrauma was like a ticking time bomb left in the system, forcing a return of the symptoms or a shift of symptoms to another area. This is rarely a satisfactory solution.

The other school of thought was no pain, no gain. Too many times clients had to undergo forceful massage or bodywork techniques that required them to endure pain. Additionally, manipulation and other aggressive manual and bodywork techniques often exerted force on the muscular system while paying no attention to the tight, surrounding myofascial environment that cannot be forced. The aggressive force used created the possibility of increased pain, injury or a return of symptoms because the environment of every other structure in the body, the myofascial system, had not been released first.

I would like you to consider the possibility of a third option of relieving pain and restoring motion: therapeutic pain.

My Myofascial Release Approach is where the therapist applies gentle, sustained pressure into the fascial restrictions, creating what the client reports as a feeling of good pain or a good stretch. Release of the pressure of the fascial system around the muscles, nerves, blood vessels and the osseous structures creates a free, mobile environment for these pain-sensitive structures, producing consistent results, and thus relieving pain and restoring functional mobility safely and effectively.

Since the fascial system is a piezoelectric tissue, when the therapist applies gentle, sustained pressure into the myofascial restrictions through various techniques, it creates a flow of the body’s bioenergy. The combination of myofascial release, myofascial rebounding and myofascial unwinding can effectively release the fascial restrictions, thereby altering the habitual muscular response while promoting ease of movement and eliminating pain.

Myofascial release is easily learned and highly effective. Explore the possibilities.

John F. Barnes, P.T., L.M.T., N.C.T.M.B., is an international lecturer, author and acknowledged expert in the area of myofascial release. He has instructed more than 50,000 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 (Myofascial Release Treatment Centers & Seminars, 2000). He is on the counsel of Advisors of the American Back Society and MASSAGE Magazine’s editorial advisory board, and is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association. For more information, visit