Therapeutic Insight: The Myofascial Release Perspective—Kahuna, MASSAGE MagazineA couple of years ago in Chicago, Illinois, a therapist who had taken many of my seminars called and asked, “Is there any way I could bring my bird, Kahuna, in for treatment while you are in Chicago?”

I receive a lot of strange requests; however, Kahuna was a beautiful cockatoo, 6 or 7 inches tall with orange-and-white feathers. Cockatoos typically live to be 80 or 90 years old. The therapist explained that she decided to take a vacation when Kahuna was less than a year old, leaving the bird to be cared for by somebody else. It was the first time the bird had been left alone. When the therapist returned from vacation, Kahuna was self-mutilating; it was picking all the feathers out of its chest, to the point where the skin was raw. It continued to do this for a couple years and had to wear a cardboard collar to protect itself.

Kahuna had an open raw area on its chest, where it picked away all the feathers. The woman had taken Kahuna to many vets, including holistic vets and even crystal healers. Whatever you can possibly think of, she had tried. Finally, she took it to a veterinary surgeon, who decided to cut out the dead tissue in hopes of stimulating new growth. Well, he very honestly said to her after the surgery that he was sorry he did it, because he didn’t think the wound would ever heal up and if it did, it would probably take three years or more. The size of the wound on the bird, if it was equivalent to the size in a human, was about the size of a football. I agreed to treat Kahuna to see what we could do for him.

So, she brought the bird in and held it while I very slowly approached the bird’s energy field. I waited there awhile until Kahuna invited me in. I slowly felt the energy drawing me in, until eventually Kahuna let me hold him on the outside of his wings, which the owner said birds never do because they feel vulnerable that way.

In a short period of time, Kahuna started a myofascial unwinding, which is a spontaneous self-correcting motion. The motion felt like a roller-coaster track in the air; that’s also the same way it feels when you unwind an infant. Eventually, the bird went upside down, with its head all scrunched around, and stopped in a still point.

Now I don’t know whether or not the bird has fallen or been hit, but it looked something like that might have happened. I held the bird in the still point; then I decided to do what is called an energy chain technique. I had the rest of the people in the class connect hands and form a circle around me. The two closest to me put their hands on my back to complete the chain. I don’t usually sweat very much, but as I was quieting down, I began to sweat profusely; I felt like I was in a blast furnace. All of a sudden, it felt like a dam of energy burst through me, and the energy went into the bird and he screeched.

The bird’s owner wrote to me about a month later. She said that on the ride home after the treatment, Kahuna felt physically lighter than she could ever remember, and more tranquil than he had ever been, even before this problem occurred. Within one week, the size of the wound had reduced to the size of a thumbnail. Within one month, the skin completely healed and a new feather emerged.



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 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; 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, you can now access two separate excerpts from the Fireside Chat with John F. Barnes, PT DVD on YouTube. Just click on the following links:

Part 1

Part 2

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