Myofascial Release:     
The Missing Link in the Treatment of Chronic Pain and a
Host of Other Disorders

After more than 25 years of working in the field of physical therapy, I realized several years ago that Myofascial Release has been the “missing link” in facilitating authentic healing for our patients. This approach is considered to be the ultimate mind/body therapy that is safe, gentle and consistently effective in producing lasting results. John F. Barnes, Physical Therapist, international lecturer, author and authority on Myofascial Release, has trained those of us who practice MFR at our clinic. He has trained over 70,000 therapists worldwide.

What is Fascia?
Fascia is a tough connective tissue which spreads throughout the body in a three dimensional web from head to foot without interruption. It surrounds all muscles, tendons, ligaments and joint structures, and infuses every organ, nerve and blood vessel. In this way you can begin to see that each part of the entire body is connected to every other part by the fascia, like the yarn in a sweater. In the normal healthy state, the fascia is relaxed and wavy in configuration and has the ability to stretch and move without restriction.

Traumas, such as a fall or whiplash, poor posture, surgery or inflammation can create a binding down of fascia resulting in excessive pressure on these structures. The fascia becomes tight, restricted and a source of tension to the rest of the body. This enormous pressure acts like an “internal straight-jacket”, producing the symptoms of pain, headaches and restricted motion. Since many of the standard tests such as x-rays, myelograms, CAT scans, electromyography, etc., do not show the fascial restrictions, it is thought that an extremely high percentage of people suffering with pain and/or lack of motion may be having fascial problems, but most go undiagnosed.

How is it Treated?
There are numerous medical avenues available to patients for the treatment of pain. Some provide temporary relief at best, but do nothing to address the straight-jacket of pressure that is causing the pain. The pain continues---for days, weeks, months and even years. Traditional physical, occupational and massage therapies treat the symptoms caused by the “straightjacket” of pressure on the myofascial system, but do nothing to alleviate the pressure that causes and perpetuates the symptoms.

Treatments should focus on alleviating the causes of the symptoms and should utilize a multitude of hands-on techniques many of which address fascial restrictions as well as joint and other soft tissue problems to achieve enhancement of strength, flexibility, and postural awareness. As pain decreases and function begins to return, we educate each patient in a life-long, preventative and restorative program to improve flexibility, strength, lifting ability and endurance levels. Most patients report initial pain relief, followed by an improved ability to move more easily. Then they start to notice enhancement in their personal and professional life, in performance and well-being. The goal is to assist each patient to return to active, productive and enjoyable lifestyles.

Pamela Serafine, PTA/co-owner of
Ridge Physical Therapy & Wellness Center

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