Therapeutic Insight: The John F. Barnes' Myofascial Release Perspective—Heart Health, MASSAGE MagazineA flexible fascial system is essential for a healthy heart. Myofascial restrictions can exert crushing pressure—approximately 2,000 pounds per square inch—on one’s heart, vascular and lymphatic systems. The excessive pressure of the fascial restrictions can increase blood pressure and risk of heart attacks, aneurysms and stroke.

Consider this therapists’ perspective:

“Before being introduced to myofascial release, I was the epitome of the left-brained, highly disciplined, linear-thinking therapist, well-trained in breaking the body down into component parts and viewing the ‘human machine’ as a system of pulleys and levers. I entered my first job feeling well-equipped to help everybody. Unfortunately, even years after graduation, I still was not seeing the results I had anticipated—especially patients with TMJ, cervical and low-back pain—and I was becoming extremely discouraged. I felt let down with my profession, as I had been unable to make significant and permanent changes in many of the people coming to me in pain.

I was very confused and unsettled, and I was searching. In my personal life, I had never been willing to open up my feelings … even to myself. I was tense all the time, unable to apply the meaning of ‘relax and have fun.’ I was experiencing a constant deep, dull ache just behind my breastbone.

It was during my searching phase that I took my first courses (Myofascial Release I, Myofascial Unwinding and Myofascial Release II) in Detroit, Michigan. During this introduction, I worked with wonderful therapists and instructors. During these 10 days, not only were beneficial changes made to my actual physical structure, but by releasing the fascial restrictions I was finally able to let go of enormous amounts of pain, fear and grief.

Since taking the Myofascial Release Seminars, I have had a quantum shift in my way of thinking, and everything else in my life has followed. I am more creative and have opened up my mind to different ideas and, most importantly, my feelings. I am more settled. In fact, I moved halfway across the country from my hometown in Pennsylvania to Illinois, where I now work in a clinic with a wonderful myofascial release practitioner who has beautiful energy and helps me grow daily. I am now achieving a level of success with my clients that was unknown to me previously, and with each course, I find myself becoming more focused, quiet and powerful.

I have many goals right now; most importantly, to open up my heart. You see, I am the only male in the history of my family to live beyond 51 years who has not had open-heart surgery with four bypasses. I am taking precautionary measures in prevention via normal and alternative health channels and I am working toward releasing the tension throughout my mind-body complex through myofascial release and myofascial unwinding. I am determined to break this terrible family pattern, and to continue in the process of journeying up and down that scary and thrilling trail of healing (aren’t we all?).”

Myofascial release can enhance your cardiovascular efficiency. Self-awareness and balance of our attitudes toward stress is also important.

I have always been comfortable with my masculinity; however, I always viewed true masculinity as a balance between gentle strength, courage, sensitivity and beauty. I always cherished my feminine side, my creativity, sensitivity and intuition, while fully enjoying my masculine side. I have witnessed many therapists and patients blossom as myofascial release brings out the latent and underdeveloped talents of their imprisoned masculine and feminine sides, allowing them to become part of their total being. I believe embracing our male and female aspects helps us lead a healthy, balanced life.



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 ofMyofascial 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, visit

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

To connect with John Barnes on Facebook, visit