Therapeutic Insight: The John F. Barnes' Myofascial Release Perspective—Education is Insightful, MASSAGE MagazineWhat is health care’s history and where are we going?

The universe, along with the human beings within it, has a beautiful fractal nature. The model of reality we were taught, while logical, turns out to be incomplete and flawed. A model of reality is also called a paradigm, or a set of shared assumptions. The incomplete and flawed portrayal of human beings has led us to techniques that are limited in their results.

You and I were taught from the traditional view that we are mindless machines and or just bags of chemicals. Do you really believe this?

In the last three to five years, the information you and I learned to be fact has been turned inside out and upside down. While this may seem disconcerting, in actuality it provides hope. This powerful, emerging paradigm allows us to be better therapists in helping our clients lead healthier, pain-free lives. This new paradigm is cost-effective, compassionate and incredibly beneficial to your profession.

In the 1940s, Nobel Laureate Albert Szent-Györgyi, M.D., Ph.D., one of the most respected scientists in our country, was working in a think tank in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He was becoming increasingly concerned by the way research was being performed. Soft tissue was crushed, ground up, then placed in a centrifuge and spun at a high velocity to separate solid from fluid. The solid was thrown out, and what was in the fluid was studied. Szent-Györgyi complained to his colleagues that this research method could no longer continue because by separating the fluid from the solid, they were studying nonlife.

Szent-Györgyi proved his theory beyond question; however, most looked the other way and continued down the familiar path. At that time, many people believed the soft tissue of the body—the fascia, muscles, etc.—was considered to be an insulator not capable of conducting energy. However, Szent-Györgyi discovered that the soft tissue with the fluid was not an insulator but a superconductor carrying enormous amounts of energy and information throughout the body in order for it to function properly and maximize health. Today, fascia is still considered an insulator despite much information that states fascia acts as an optical fiber capable of carrying an enormous amount of information and energy at incomprehensible speeds.

Therapeutic Insight: The John F. Barnes' Myofascial Release Perspective—Education is Insightful, MASSAGE MagazineMany older, traditional scientists are stuck in the mud, but there is a new group of researchers doing incredible work.

The theories you and I have learned in health care are logical, but flawed and incomplete, not giving proper attention to the fascial system and consciousness. Most of the research that has been presented to us on the fascial system was taken from cadavers, which are brittle. Research was focused on the fibrous nature of the fascial system, with no regard to the fluid that makes up more than 70 percent of our body.

All other techniques focused only on the fibrous network, which is the old form of myofascial release. My approach to myofascial release incorporates the old form, but what makes us uniquely different is we also incorporate and focus on the fluid dynamic component of the fascial system, which tends to solidify and dehydrate, producing crushing pressure on pain-sensitive structures. The ground substance of the fascial system is the transport medium of our body for the oxygen we breathe; the fluid and food we intake; the supplements and medication we ingest; the biochemicals, hormones, information and consciousness that our more than 70 trillion cells of our bodies need to thrive. It turns out myofascial release is extremely beneficial in reducing pain, headaches, fibromyalgia, athletic and performance injuries, range-of-motion limitations and cellular health. What could be more important?

It seems the older form of myofascial release, which only focused on the fibrous network, and many forms of massage and energy work do not successfully treat fascial restrictions because they do not stop at the fascial barrier, nor wait long enough (more than five minutes) without sliding on the surface. Waiting at the fascial restriction long enough to stimulate the phenomena of piezoelectricity, mechanotransduction, chaos and phase transition, which leads to resonance, is essential for authentic healing to occur. The stimulation of these phenomena is significant and quite different from what we have learned in the past.

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 100,000 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; he is also 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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