Therapeutic Insight: The Myofascial Release Perspective—What do You Believe?, MASSAGE Magazineby John F. Barnes 

Many belief systems are thrust upon us by society, the educational system, coupled with our experience. I am not being critical of you with what I am about to write. I was guilty of this much longer than most. My experience has shown that much of what you and I were taught has been known to be obsolete for close to 70 years! Despite the fact the information has been known to be outdated, it is still being taught in most medical, dental and therapeutic schools, leading to the frustration of temporary results and a health-care system on the verge of bankruptcy and collapse. 

In order to evolve and be the best therapist we can be, it is time to change and update our paradigm. A paradigm is a shared set of assumptions, a model of reality. Our society’s model of reality is logical, but terribly flawed and an incomplete paradigm. Our educational system turned us into “word worshipers,” almost as if logic was some sort of a religion. I have found over the years that just because something is logical doesn’t mean it has any basis in reality whatsoever. 

What most of us learned and accepted as facts, actually started out as myths a long time ago. These myths and misinformation were passed down by one “expert” to another, generation upon generation, until we all accepted these myths as facts. We need to step back and take a serious look at what we were taught, keeping that which has value and discarding that which only produces temporary results with our clients or impedes our joyful expression of life and vibrant health. 

Our current model of reality actually began more than 300 years ago. Rene Descartes, the father of modern medicine, Isaac Newton and other scientists of that time got into a fight with the church. Descartes wanted cadavers to dissect to learn more about anatomy; the church would have none of it. They argued back and forth for quite a while, and I think they eventually gave up. So, they agreed to fragment the human being. The church took the spirit, physicians took biochemistry, we therapists took the flesh, psychologists focused on the mind … and nobody wanted the emotions!

This fragmentation of the human has become absurd. The model of reality taught is that we are just “bags of chemicals” and/or a “mindless machine.” Do you really believe that? These obsolete concepts defy our moment-by-moment experience of ourselves!

In school, the implied message was that we were not bright enough to think for ourselves. We were to believe what the scientific experts said and wrote, not realizing the experts made their logical decisions and formulated their theories on flawed and incomplete information, which among other things eliminated consciousness. 

Behaviorism has strongly influenced the belief systems of both the medical and psychological paradigm since the early 1900s. The following quote is from the National Consciousness Magazine: “The Human Paradox of Behaviorism.”

“It is a paradox for conscious humans to deny consciousness. Yet, generations of physicians and scientists influenced by behaviorism claim to study perception without consciousness, attention without consciousness, learning, brain physiology, animal behavior, sleep, language, and healing without consciousness, all while explicitly evading the common sense of 26 centuries of written human thought. Naturally, were unable to deal with the subconscious events either; you can’t have a subconscious without consciousness. Yet they’ve experienced every waking moment consciously.”

Basically, in school we were taught what to think, not how to think! And haven’t we all been told, “Oh, it’s only your intuition”? One of our most valuable assets was stripped from us. The emphasis was on memorization, analytical thought and logic. We were taught logical techniques for an illogical body and linear concepts for a nonlinear system, the fascial system.   

One of the many reasons myofascial release produces consistent and lasting results is that I teach principles that emanate from an understanding of the nonlinear aspect of the myofascial system, coupled with chaos and complexity theory, as well as cellular consciousness. 

Dr. Candace Pert, one of our country’s leading researchers and developers of the endorphin theory, has written an interesting book titled, The Molecule’s of Emotion, which you might enjoy. For years, her research has demonstrated that every cell of our body has intelligence, emotion and memory.

The information, emotions and memories are sent via the neuropeptide system through the microtubules of the fascial system to our brain and neural system. So, cellular memory lies within and is processed through the ground substance of the fascial system. The ground substance is the environment of every nerve and cell of our body and ideally should be a fluid to gelatinous state.

However, when we undergo trauma and/or a thwarted inflammatory process, the ground substance begins to dehydrate. This solidification impedes the proper processing of information, emotion and memory, ultimately creating internal tension, anxiety and crushing pressure on pain-sensitive structures. This dysfunctional scenario ultimately leads to the symptoms of pain, headaches, restriction of motion and cellular malfunction.

Massage, bodywork and energy techniques coupled with myofascial release allow us to rehydrate the fascial system to eliminate the crushing pressure on pain-sensitive structures and a return of cellular and physiological functioning.



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, and is also on MASSAGE Magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board. He is also a member of the American Physical Therapy Association. For more information, visit