by John F. Barnes, P.T.
Thousands of men and women returning from the current conflict are suffering from symptoms of body and/or head trauma. For some, these painful traumas are difficult to resolve and have been diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
How myofascial release helps with trauma
The myofascial release (MFR) perspective believes that unresolved trauma lies within the intricate matrix of the myofascial, or connective tissue that holds tissue memory, and that the myofascial system is the “record keeper” of memory in the body-mind complex.
When trauma occurs, whether physical, mental, emotional or a combination of these, people respond with a flight-fight or freeze response. It is this freeze response that MFR therapists believe is what holds us back from fully and naturally healing from a traumatic event.
Kathy Monkman, L.M.T., is a MFR therapist with more than 20 years of experience, and she had a creative idea I would like to share with you.
“I have 20 years of experience practicing the John F. Barnes Myofascial Release Approach in a variety of settings, including psychiatric and head injury rehabilitation. My greatest qualification in developing the In One Peace Project is my own history of anxiety recovery.
My teacher, John F. Barnes, P.T., has told us for years ‘you can only take your clients as far as you’ve been willing to go yourself,’ so I am here to tell you, I went through hell and back recovering from anxiety and it was myofascial release that got me where I am today—fully recovered and fully alive.
While a practicing psychiatric RN and managing a busy inpatient unit in my 20s, I was stopped in my tracks with a debilitating rush of unrelenting symptoms of anxiety, including massive unexpected panic attacks and multiple phobias. My world kept getting smaller and smaller, and I knew I was in trouble when I experienced claustrophobia because there were clouds in the sky ‘trapping me.’ I went to work day after day covering up my symptoms, appearing strong, helping other psychiatric patients, managing staff people while suffering probably as severely as most patients admitted to our unit.
Of course, my belief system at the time was oriented to conventional ways of dealing with this, so I went to the best psychiatrists, went on medication, was hospitalized for a week at one point, went to psychotherapy, tried hypnosis and many other modalities. Yet, all I seemed to be doing was managing my day-to-day life around the anxiety; functioning, but minimally and my joy in living always at bay, never knowing when I would be struck with a panic attack debilitating me, stopping me in my tracks. My world was manageable but not joyful, and I was living on the periphery of life, unable to get on airplanes, at times very uncomfortable leaving my home. I was agoraphobic, claustrophobic and stuck. It was not a fun life nor a hopeful one, being so young and so limited.
I walked away from psychiatry, having no idea what to do next but knowing it wasn’t a paradigm I was believing in anymore, and landed in a head injury rehab facility, which was a dream job. I loved it. Fast forward to a year later, I was sitting in my boss’s office being presented me with an opportunity that goes like this, ’John F. Barnes, P.T., is coming to town and teaches myofascial release; looked at the staff roster and thought you’d be the best person to send to see if we need this in the program.’ I studied massage, so I thought, ‘Why not?’ and went on a recon mission for the program to check it out.
Well, I will say within the first hour of that myofascial release seminar I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that not only could this path heal me, but that this was my new direction and this was my teacher—even though I wasn’t looking for a direction or a teacher! I spent a solid year practicing myofascial release with those head-injured patients in the program and saw miracle after miracle—and I was just a novice therapist with three classes under my belt!
Fast forward to 20 years later and I have tears in my eyes as I relate that I live a full life, have a stunningly successful myofascial release practice, I travel wherever I want to go, get on planes without self-medicating, my vibrancy has returned fully and I don’t fear the fear anymore. I attribute this fully to my healing journey with the deep, holistic approach of John F. Barnes Myofascial Release. I know inside and out this approach can clear the memory within the matrix of the fascial “record keeper” and free a person from the prison of anxiety.
For this reason, I want to give back and I want to serve those who are serving me. I know myofascial release is the missing link that can help clear PTSD symptoms.
I’m excited to share with you a project I’ve launched this week that you might want to affiliate with and/or help me promote. Last year, I had one of those ‘aha’ moments related to returning service persons struggling with PTSD and how I (we) could help them with myofascial release, but I really didn’t know how or where to begin. Life went on, and this summer a pebble got kicked in me that started a momentum to get this project started, and the In One Peace Project was born.
The In One Peace Project is created to offer once per month, 100 percent free clinics to returning service people using John F. Barnes’ Myofascial Release to resolve issues with PTSD and/or body/head injury. At my office, the three of us MFR therapists are offering this service to this population each month for a full day of free sessions. As I say in the mission statement, ‘We are here to serve those who are serving us.’
I am also opening up this project to other John F. Barnes Myofascial Release practitioners who would be interested in participating. I’m excited to say John F. Barnes’ ‘Therapy on the Rocks’ in Sedona, Arizona, and the Myofascial Release Treatment Center in Paoli, Pennsylvania, are already on board.
I want to kick this pebble and start a revolution, so we can help these men and women pivot quickly and seamlessly when they return so we don’t end up with another Vietnam generation of pain. I’m putting it out there in every way I can think of (and would appreciate any and all suggestions for promotion).
Thank you, Kathy. I encourage you all to consider becoming involved with this special and important project to help our “wounded warriors.”
John 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, as well as on MASSAGE Magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board and is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association. For more information, visit www.myofascialrelease.com.
For more information about myofascial release, view two separate excerpts from the Fireside Chat with John F. Barnes, P.T. DVD on YouTube: