It's the Simple Things...
Lisa Morrisey completed her massage training at Owens Community College in Toledo, Ohio in 2008. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology in 1994 from Ithaca College. Lisa Specializes in Myofascial Release JFB Approach and has completed MFR I & II and Fascial-Pelvis Myofascial Release. Lisa has been with Back to Basics Massage Therapy since 2010.
You may have heard in passing about myofascial release and have wondered what it is and how releasing the fascia can benefit you. A couple of years ago I started a journey of learning about myofascial release and how it would benefit those whom I provide therapy through massage too. This journey led me to the John F. Barnes method of myofascial release also referred to as MFR JFB Method. To understand MFR and it's benefits you need to first understand what fascia is.
What is fascia? Any meat eater has seen it on their chicken or in steak, but it is more that just a tissue covering muscle. Fascia is a three-dimensional web that covers and connects every system of our body. In effect it is the scaffolding of our body even down to the cellular level.
When our body experiences a trauma, surgery, inflammatory response, etc, the fascial system produces restrictions in the area of injury as a protective mechanism. In a healthy body or situation the fascial will regain fluidity once the trauma has passed. However, in certain circumstances we get “stuck”; this is either due to the trauma being from a repetitive action, the injury was too great, or scaring was produced. In these cases MFR and self care stretches can “unwind” the restrictions to allow for a fluid environment again.
Fascia in its healthy form is quite fluid. It consists of fibers and ground substance within the spaces between the fibers. When fibers join together to protect from injury, the tissue becomes dehydrated and the environment becomes restricted.
“Fascial restrictions can exert crushing pressure of up to approximately 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch on the various pain sensitive structures in the body” - JFB
Consider your muscle trying to work in that environment, the muscle would become tired and achey doing less work due to the compression of the fibrous network of fascia crushing it. MFR focuses on holds that target compressed tissue for 3-5 minutes at a time to allow for the fibers of the fascial tissue to begin to stretch and eventually allow fluid to rush back into the ground ground substance and once again create a fluid environment for the muscle to be able to work in.
Why 3-5 minutes? On average the elastic fiber begins to respond and move at around 3 minutes where the tougher collagen fibers respond around 5 minutes. This is accomplished with a firm pressure over a restricted area while stretching it between both hands. The pressure is meant to meet resistance and hold until the fibers begin to stretch and move at with time the therapist would move into the tissue further. While this technique is not a deep pressure, discomfort or pain can be associated with the technique. A favorite quote of JFB is “you need to feel to heal”. Coming into your session after taking a pain relieving drug would not be beneficial to the process. MFR is a slow technique that requires patience but is quite beneficial and healing; I highly recommend it!
The best way to continue to combat the day to day stressors we put onto our body is to use the self care techniques between sessions to maintain the fluid environment that our body functions best in. I’ll get into self care stretches in another blog. I hope this information has been helpful. If you find it interesting, search John F. Barnes Myofascial Release to read more about his technique.
Watch this youtube video Fascia magnified 25x. It's a fantastic visual.