Therapeutic Insight: The John F. Barnes' Myofascial Release Perspective—Therapeutic Artist, MASSAGE MagazineMyofascial release allows you to become the therapeutic artist you were meant to be.

Commitment coupled with vision, the image of what you want, keeps you from being distracted and veering from your path or mission. As a therapeutic artist, I suggest you read, The Agony and the Ecstasy, by Irving Stone.

This is a story of the artist Michelangelo, and the trials and tribulations he overcame. The huge blocks of marble he so beautifully sculpted didn’t just miraculously appear in front of him. He had to climb mountains more than 10,000 feet high, scale steep, almost vertical ravines to find the most pure marble that could only be found at the top. He and a group of tough men, at great danger to themselves, had to chisel out the massive stone blocks from the mountain. They then attached ropes to these multiton slabs of marble and navigated them down thousands of feet of sheer cliffs. What incredible strength and courage these men had in order to take on such a task.

More than 500 years ago, there were no roads leading to the sea. He and his men had to cut roads out of the forests and mountainsides. They had to construct wooden cradles, harness the marble on them with chains, and use a 20-mule team to laboriously drag the precious cargo down to the sea. This took more than 10 months, with many injuries, storms and hardly any food. Exhausted and beat up, they finally arrived at the seaport and had to construct a barge. When the marble was loaded on the barge, it sunk.

As they stood there looking at their sunken treasure, a messenger arrived on horseback telling Michelangelo that the Pope had canceled his funding of the project due to the political turmoil in Rome. As Michelangelo stood there stunned, the messenger also told him he was under great criticism by some people because they thought it was taking too long!

Always remember, no matter how hard you may work or successful you may become, there will always be those whose only talent seems to be ridicule and criticism. Speaking without experience is foolish.

Therapists that cling to the old obsolete ways of therapy do not have the courage to understand or admit traditional techniques only produce temporary results for two hours to two days. If myofascial release feels right to you in your heart, commit to it, so that you don’t waiver from your path.

Michelangelo’s commitment never faltered. He eventually secured the funds he needed, built a sturdier barge, and set off on his next adventure at sea—and what an adventure it was. In route, they were hit with three ferocious storms and almost drowned.

Whenever you are going through a rough time or are challenged by adversity, remember Michelangelo’s tenacity. No matter what the obstacle, there is always a way. Never give up.

Michelangelo finally arrived in Rome with his prized marble. He would quiet himself and feel deeply into the stone to determine its inner flow to ascertain where weakness may lie. If he hit the marble with his chisel at the wrong angle, it would ruin his whole piece. He would stand back, soften his visual focus and center himself, which enabled him to see, in his mind’s eye, the inner shape. He then chipped away the extraneous stone. He caressed the marble with his chisel to allow the inner beauty to emerge. He loved what he did and had a passion for life, becoming one of the world’s greatest artists.

Your hard-earned skills, the precious ability to center yourself, coupled with tenacity and commitment are your natural-born strengths that will help you achieve what is meaningful to you.

Myofascial release is the ultimate therapeutic art. Love what you do. Have a passion for myofascial release and you will become a master.

What is your purpose in life? What is your mission?


John F. Barnes

John F. 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 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