Myofascial Release Therapy (MFR) for treating compression and pain

What is Myofascial Release (MFR therapy)? How can it relieve pain? Let’s discuss how MFR has improved our health and reduced pain and share articles about how MFR works. MFR helps so many different conditions that have compressed tissues, and entrapped blood vessels and nerves. The time to avoid MFR treatment would be if a person has cancer, because in releasing tight tissues, cancer cells could be released and able to migrate through the body.

Myofascial release is a way to stretch the fascial layers that holds our body together. The fascia is connective tissue that forms a web matrix that interconnects everything in the body. It has recently been described as the “Interstitium” or a new organ in the body.

Fascia can be too tight from injuries or surgical scar tissue, and hold the body in poor ergonomics which can lead to nerve compression. Fascia can be stretched or “released” and it will remodel itself by changing from a semi solid to liquid form which brings circulation to an area of compressed tissue which then expands the tissue and circulation, and it enables removal of metabolic waste products. Using their hands, the trained therapist will find the path of fascial restriction in the patient’s body and push against it gently in a shearing motion, and wait for the tissue to start to slide. The patient can feel the movement and become body aware. This path of fascial movement can reach the full length of the body and cross over between sides. This path changes as it unravels, and often there is a vasomotor response that can be seen on the skin temporarily as a reddish area where circulation has been restored which is shown on the photo below near the therapist’s hands. Treatment must be slow and gentle to prevent the body from guarding in a protective response. This is why aggressive methods to stretch fascia often fail and can cause injuries by tearing the fascia and forming scar tissue that just adds to the problem of fascial tightness.

Fascia also holds tissue memory, and in releasing it, sometimes there is a release of emotions tied to an injury that was a cause of the problem. Stress and injury can cause guarding behavior and tissue tightness that become permanent over time, and MFR and working on emotional health helps a person recover from the physical and emotional effects of stress and trauma on the body.

MFR is helpful to so many conditions that have an underlying physical cause. The physical therapist who developed this treatment method forty years ago is John Barnes. He has developed courses and MFR certifications for physical therapists. There is a lot of information about MFR at myofascialrelease.com as well as directory of therapists treating with MFR. A person may also contact Therapy on the Rocks in Sedona, AZ, and ask for recommendations of therapists who have been trained in the John Barnes Methods. MFR therapy is becoming better known and accepted healing therapy, although there are some doctors who are unaware of the benefits.

I wanted to create this discussion to help organize this information and I thought the Neuropathy group would be a good place to start because someone in pain might look here, but we could have this discussion in many discussion groups. Animals such as dogs, cats and horses have also benefited from this therapy. Hopefully as we collect information here, this discussion can be referenced and shared in the many other discussions on Mayo Clinic Connect.

Here is an incomplete list of conditions that can be helped with MFR treatment.

You may find this list and further information at https://www.myofascialrelease.com/about/problems-mfr-helps.aspx

Back pain
Bladder Problems (Urgency, Frequency, Incontinence, Overactive Bladder, leakage
Birth Injuries
Bulging Disc
Bursitis
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Cerebral Palsy
Cervical and Lumbar spine injuries
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic Pain
Degenerative Disc Disease
Endometriosis
Emotional Trauma
Fibromyalgia
Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)
Herniated Disc
Headaches or Migraines
Infertility
Interstitial Cystitis
Menstrual Problems
Myofascial Pain Syndrome
Neck Pain
Osteoarthritis
Pelvic Pain
Plantar Fascitis
Pudental Nerve Entrapment
Scars (hypertrophic, hypersensitive, painful, burn scars, mastectomy scars)
Sciatica
Scoliosis
Shin Splints
Tennis Elbow
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
TMJ syndrome
Trigeminal Neuralgia
Vulvodynia
Whiplash

@johnbishop

Does anyone know of a therapist in the Rochester, MN area that specializes in MFP? I'm thinking it will help with lower back ache that I'm guessing is part old age, part osteoperosis and most likely poor posture ☺ I've had it for years but it's better some days and not so other days.

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https://dahlc.mayoclinic.org/2016/04/04/meet-the-massage-therapists/
I have my treatments 3 x a week and it has helped me tremendously!!

Prayers for relief!!
Dawn

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@dawn_giacabazi

https://dahlc.mayoclinic.org/2016/04/04/meet-the-massage-therapists/
I have my treatments 3 x a week and it has helped me tremendously!!

Prayers for relief!!
Dawn

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Thanks Dawn, the Dan Abraham's Healthy Living Center would be a good choice for me but I'm not sure if you have to be a member to use their massage therapists. I'll have to check with my daughter who works at Mayo and uses the facilities.

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@jenniferhunter Thanks for all this information Im having sciatica trouble now going to massage therapist Thrusday and will ask her if she dies MFP Didnt realise how many parts of the body this will help

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In reply to @tennessegirl "@jenniferhunter" + (show)

@tennessegirl – the rest of your reply to @jenniferhunter did not come through. Will you post it again?

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@jenniferhunter Myofascial Release can be a wonderful pain reliever for most folks, I agree with you completely.. Many years ago when I lived in San Jose I went almost weekly for massage therapy.. First time there my body began releasing so much emotional tension that my body started sobbing with relief.. She said it wasn't unusual at all.. that strong men often had the same reaction in the beginning.. What she did for me was amazing, kept me going for several years until she retired and moved away.. I'm on the search now for someone who can do the same for me.. have an appmt next week with a highly recommended masseuse.. I'm hoping for the best again, but already have a backup if I need it..
Your post on Connect are always great reading and very informative.. You do so much research and I want you to know how much I appreciate you being here.. Hope your health issues are manageable and I wish you the very best…

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@hotfooted

@jenniferhunter Myofascial Release can be a wonderful pain reliever for most folks, I agree with you completely.. Many years ago when I lived in San Jose I went almost weekly for massage therapy.. First time there my body began releasing so much emotional tension that my body started sobbing with relief.. She said it wasn't unusual at all.. that strong men often had the same reaction in the beginning.. What she did for me was amazing, kept me going for several years until she retired and moved away.. I'm on the search now for someone who can do the same for me.. have an appmt next week with a highly recommended masseuse.. I'm hoping for the best again, but already have a backup if I need it..
Your post on Connect are always great reading and very informative.. You do so much research and I want you to know how much I appreciate you being here.. Hope your health issues are manageable and I wish you the very best…

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@hotfooted Thank you so much! If you need to find a good MFR therapist, there is a provider finder on the MFR website, and you can also call "Therapy on the Rocks" in Sedona, AZ. That is the teaching practice of John Barnes who developed this therapy. They can give you names of therapists who have trained there. Not all of them pay for the web listing.

Healing the body and the mind spirit connection is so important for our physical and emotional health. I started MFR because of thoracic outlet syndrome and I have made steady progress with my physical therapist. A couple years ago, I had to take a break from therapy and had spine surgery on my neck at Mayo. Then after recovery, I started back at MFR. I self treat at home too because my therapist has taught me a lot. As a patient, I'm a poster child for wellness and for advocating for myself and I read a lot of medical literature. I have to work on my muscle strength too because I had lost a lot of muscle mass from the spine problem (cervical stenosis) and working with my horse sure helps a lot with that. He was part of my recovery and I had clearance to ride at 7 months post op. I just returned from a camping trip with my horse and the girls and feel physically stronger than when we left. My horse has also had MFR treatments recently that have helped him, and I've learned some of that and have worked on him in-between his sessions. He had some weakness in his hips, and after one of the MFR sessions, his pelvis (probably the SI joint) reset itself with a loud crack and his gaits got smoother. We just rode about 50 miles over 6 days through some beautiful wooded trails. He's doing some rehab too, and now I'm helping him. Thanks for your kind words.

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Sounds like what I had been getting and need to get back to to remain comfortable and painfree

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@jenniferhunter

@hotfooted Thank you so much! If you need to find a good MFR therapist, there is a provider finder on the MFR website, and you can also call "Therapy on the Rocks" in Sedona, AZ. That is the teaching practice of John Barnes who developed this therapy. They can give you names of therapists who have trained there. Not all of them pay for the web listing.

Healing the body and the mind spirit connection is so important for our physical and emotional health. I started MFR because of thoracic outlet syndrome and I have made steady progress with my physical therapist. A couple years ago, I had to take a break from therapy and had spine surgery on my neck at Mayo. Then after recovery, I started back at MFR. I self treat at home too because my therapist has taught me a lot. As a patient, I'm a poster child for wellness and for advocating for myself and I read a lot of medical literature. I have to work on my muscle strength too because I had lost a lot of muscle mass from the spine problem (cervical stenosis) and working with my horse sure helps a lot with that. He was part of my recovery and I had clearance to ride at 7 months post op. I just returned from a camping trip with my horse and the girls and feel physically stronger than when we left. My horse has also had MFR treatments recently that have helped him, and I've learned some of that and have worked on him in-between his sessions. He had some weakness in his hips, and after one of the MFR sessions, his pelvis (probably the SI joint) reset itself with a loud crack and his gaits got smoother. We just rode about 50 miles over 6 days through some beautiful wooded trails. He's doing some rehab too, and now I'm helping him. Thanks for your kind words.

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wonderful that MFR is helping you. Can you say how it is different from trigger point therapy?and I am guessing the effects are temporary but need to use like one would engage in any other exercise routine. Thank-you

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@helennicola

wonderful that MFR is helping you. Can you say how it is different from trigger point therapy?and I am guessing the effects are temporary but need to use like one would engage in any other exercise routine. Thank-you

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@helennicola Thanks for the question. I think trigger point therapy can mean 2 things. One is aggressive deep tissue massage to smash the hard spot in a muscle (which I have had done before), or it can mean an injection of something like Botox to try to stop the muscle from contracting. Trigger points form from overuse and cause dehydrated tissue that holds onto its waste products gluing it together. The body tends to react in a protective manner with aggressive work, so it might become a vicious cycle. When you stop moving because it hurts, you maintain the same pattern that causes the restriction in the first place. What is really different about myofascial release with the John Barnes methods is that it is gentle and very low pressure. It is like kneading bread dough in extreme slow motion. You sink in with your hands, apply a little pressure, go to where you feel he barrier and wait. The first time, it might take longer to start to move like maybe 15 minutes, but the tissue starts to slide. The fascia is in layers, and it will take time to work through them all. Scar tissue in the fascia from injuries or surgery causes restrictions too. The therapist can teach ways to self treat at home, and after you have body awareness and can feel the tissues opening up, you can figure out ways to work on that a home. MFR gets the body into better ergonomic alignment and can prevent arthritis problems caused by misalignment of joints. The bones are pulled into place by the muscles and fascia, and the muscles can't overcome the fascial net that contains them if the tissue is too tight and restricted and the restrictions can entrap nerves where they travel through some small spaces. Once you learn MFR, you can maintain it at home and see the therapist for touch ups. Yoga stretching is a form of fascial stretch that can maintain what you have gained.

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@jenniferhunter

@helennicola Thanks for the question. I think trigger point therapy can mean 2 things. One is aggressive deep tissue massage to smash the hard spot in a muscle (which I have had done before), or it can mean an injection of something like Botox to try to stop the muscle from contracting. Trigger points form from overuse and cause dehydrated tissue that holds onto its waste products gluing it together. The body tends to react in a protective manner with aggressive work, so it might become a vicious cycle. When you stop moving because it hurts, you maintain the same pattern that causes the restriction in the first place. What is really different about myofascial release with the John Barnes methods is that it is gentle and very low pressure. It is like kneading bread dough in extreme slow motion. You sink in with your hands, apply a little pressure, go to where you feel he barrier and wait. The first time, it might take longer to start to move like maybe 15 minutes, but the tissue starts to slide. The fascia is in layers, and it will take time to work through them all. Scar tissue in the fascia from injuries or surgery causes restrictions too. The therapist can teach ways to self treat at home, and after you have body awareness and can feel the tissues opening up, you can figure out ways to work on that a home. MFR gets the body into better ergonomic alignment and can prevent arthritis problems caused by misalignment of joints. The bones are pulled into place by the muscles and fascia, and the muscles can't overcome the fascial net that contains them if the tissue is too tight and restricted and the restrictions can entrap nerves where they travel through some small spaces. Once you learn MFR, you can maintain it at home and see the therapist for touch ups. Yoga stretching is a form of fascial stretch that can maintain what you have gained.

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I’m surprised that I never heard of it before now, having been to many P/T’s over the years but I guess there are always new trends in healthcare and everyone respond differently; I had plantar fasciitis 3 yrs. ago and was told by my foot dr. that the fascia had stretched due to overuse of an elliptical machine and that is what was causing the pain which after 1 yr. was resolved with a steroid injection.I also had gone to a “rolfer” in Ca. prior to a hip replacement which was quite painful but had excellent results lasting for almost 1month when I could not walk w/o pain prior. I found dry needling to be of no help, and trigger point therapy to work but again, too painful. I have found someone in my area who performs the MFR type of P/T and think he could be helpful to my husband who has back issues. Thanks again for your input.

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@helennicola

I’m surprised that I never heard of it before now, having been to many P/T’s over the years but I guess there are always new trends in healthcare and everyone respond differently; I had plantar fasciitis 3 yrs. ago and was told by my foot dr. that the fascia had stretched due to overuse of an elliptical machine and that is what was causing the pain which after 1 yr. was resolved with a steroid injection.I also had gone to a “rolfer” in Ca. prior to a hip replacement which was quite painful but had excellent results lasting for almost 1month when I could not walk w/o pain prior. I found dry needling to be of no help, and trigger point therapy to work but again, too painful. I have found someone in my area who performs the MFR type of P/T and think he could be helpful to my husband who has back issues. Thanks again for your input.

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@helennicola You're welcome. The John Barnes MFR has been around for 40 years. Sometimes health care is just slow to accept something that prevents problems and doesn't involve drugs. The medical community in the last few years announced a "discovery" of the new organ they called the "interstitium" which is the fascial system. It is a semi liquid that converts between solid and liquid and also conducts electricity and stores tissue memory. There can be an emotional release with the regained function and maybe that wasn't accepted because it isn't just a mechanical tissue. It's a net that stretches different ways like a Chinese finger game that locks around your finger. My physical therapist says that plantar fasciitis actually starts with tightness in the leg or hip that pulls down to the feet causing pain. Hammer toes happen that way too according to my mom's podiatrist from the tightness of the path of the connective tissue. I had plantar faciitis for about a year and did a lot of stretching and relieved it. It might be your hip replacement that was involved, and the scar tissue from the surgery tightened the fascia. I get tightness in my neck from my surgical scar for spine surgery and I keep loosening it. A lot of PTs hand off to assistants who work with the patient, but my PT is a hands on person who does all the manual work herself and I have sessions that are all manual therapy instead of prescribed exercise routines. I can do strengthening exercises myself at home, but I can't do all of the releases she does in the clinic by myself. It takes more time for a therapist to do this and they can't supervise multiple patients at the same time in the name of profit, but it's the good ones who work this way.

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