Therapeutic Insight: The Myofascial Release Perspective—Waldo, MASSAGE MagazineWhile written with some humor, this is a true story. This experience illustrates the sad and typical medical, veterinary and therapeutic traditional symptomatic viewpoint versus the “structural/functional” myofascial perspective.

Waldo was a cat between 5 and 8 years old that chose his owner by showing up on her doorstep and refusing to leave. Waldo’s surgical history, as assessed by the vet, was that he was neutered and later developed a chronic urinary tract infection and feline urologic syndrome; because of this, the vets surgically removed his penis. Other surgical procedures included a thyroidectomy.

Waldo became an inside cat after his owner moved to Arizona, since in Arizona coyotes consider cats to be appetizers. He is now 14 years old, living inside and has had no major traumas until a few weeks ago, when he had a tooth removed by the vet. Afterward he lost his appetite, became listless and could not flex his neck to eat out of his bowl on the floor. He then began projectile vomiting. After numerous visits to the vet, who was very comprehensive from a traditional symptomatic point of view, Waldo’s problem was diagnosed as probable pancreatitis. The solution was intravenous steroids.

When Waldo’s owner explained her plight to me, I suggested she bring Waldo in for treatment. The surgical removal of a tooth as part of his recent history gave me the clue as to what could have been the probable cause of the onset of his symptoms. Visualize this experience: The cat was anesthetized, strapped down, and his head and neck were probably held in extension to facilitate the removal of the tooth. This must have jammed his occipital condyles. Doing so creates a fascial strain around the jugular foramina and restriction of the occipital condyles, which then can entrap the vagus nerve, producing Waldo’s symptoms (nausea, listlessness, projectile vomiting and limited cervical range of motion).

So the typical symptomatic traditional approach, that so many of us, our patients and animal friends become bogged down in, created unnecessary, prolonged suffering for Waldo. For his owner, it meant unnecessary expenses and time spent cleaning the house and taking Waldo back and forth to the vet. In contrast with the Myofascial Release Approach, in less then 10 minutes I had scanned Waldo’s body and found and released his myofascial restrictions. His owner held Waldo while I used a gentle myofascial/osseous release to the occipital condyles, and upper cervical and thyroid areas, and finished with a gentle unwinding with Waldo’s head and cervical spine.

Waldo, by the way, enjoyed his treatment. The day following his treatment, Waldo was able to reach down to the floor to eat for the first time since his surgery, no further vomiting occurred and he experienced a return of his energy. He’s playful and happy—and really glad that he’s not going back to the vet!

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 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

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