Therapeutic Insight: The John F. Barnes' Myofascial Release Perspective—Do You Feel Empty?, MASSAGE MagazineYou and I, as therapists, were given a logical, linear education. We were taught logical, linear protocols–in other words, “one size fits all” type of treatments to help our clients. On the superficial level, this all sounded great. We have worked hard to help people. People who are in the massage profession care about people and spend a lot of effort learning to do so.

Unfortunately, after a period of time, we start to realize that what we were taught doesn’t work that well. It feels good for awhile, but within a couple hours or days the whole symptom complex returns again. We start to blame ourselves, because what our teacher taught us isn’t working–so it had to be us!

When in actuality, when you look at our education, it wasn’t true education, it was mass hypnosis. In other words, we were taught what to think, not how to think. Thinking isn’t just intellectualizing and rationalizing; that is the Chanel 5 mentality I will discuss in more detail later.

All the research done on the fascial system has been done on cadavers, which are brittle. So the entire educational focus was the fibrous network of the fascial system.

The fascial system is the container of the fluid of our body. Trauma, thwarted inflammatory responses and surgeries dehydrate the fluid of our body’s fascial system. It can solidify to the point where it creates crushing pressure on pain-sensitive structures that can then produce the kinds of symptoms our clients come to us for help.

The myofascial release principles I teach are nonlinear, recognizing the body as both nonlinear and illogical. Also, using sustained pressure for a sufficient amount of time to create the piezoelectric phenomena, the mechanotransduction, and phase transition eventually lead to resonance, which is another word for the release we experience with myofascial release.

So many therapists to whom I teach are very frustrated and confused.

I am going to ask you a question: Despite your accomplishments and the fact that you work hard every day for your family and clients, do you still feel empty inside?

Please soften your visual focus. As you look at this statue, allow yourself to see and feel her desperation. Become aware of the inner tension within your body and how it may relate to your life.

As you may know, I have been treating clients from all around the world for more than 50 years. I have met a lot of wealthy people over the years. They had all the toys: houses, cars, boats and jewelry, but were hurting badly, quite unhappy and felt empty.

This reminds me of an old song of Peggy Lee’s: “Is That All There Is?” The problem is the “Channel 5” mentality our society has imposed upon us has dominated our lives. It has made life quite empty, no matter what we possess. There is nothing wrong with having toys, but what is the purpose if you can’t enjoy your life?

A simplistic way of looking at this is what I call the Channel 3 and Channel 5 mentality. The Channel 5 mentality is our intellectual, rational side, which has basically dominated our lives due to the educational system. While Channel 5 has great value, it was never meant to function on its own.

Our “feeling intelligence” side, which I call Channel 3, is our intuitive, instinctive side. This is what I call the healing zone. In scientific terminology, this is called the hypnagogic state. I teach every therapist and client how to move into the healing zone to maximize the therapeutic response.

Myofascial release moves us into our intuitive, instinctive and creative side, our joyful and wise side, so that we can enjoy each moment.

John Barnes, MASSAGE MagazineJohn 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 75,000 therapists worldwide in his Myofascial Release approach, and he is the author of Myofascial Release: the Search for Excellence (Rehabilitation Services Inc., 1990) andHealing Ancient Wounds: the Renegade’s Wisdom (Myofascial Release Treatment Centers & Seminars, 2000). He is on the counsel of advisors of the American Back Society; he is also on MASSAGE Magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board; and is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association. For more information,

For more information about myofascial release, access two excerpts from the Fireside Chat with John F. Barnes, PT DVD on YouTube:

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