What Is MFR?
What is Fascia?
Fascia surrounds each muscle, tendon, ligament, bone, and organ, and branches out to extend deeply into these structures to eventually surround each cell of the body with a single amazingly interconnected web.
Fascia is made up of both dense and delicate connective tissues and the extracellular matrix (a fluid and gel-like substance) that surrounds each cell.
Fascia holds tissues and organs together, allows them to glide past each other as we move, and serves as a communication system within the body that is faster than the brain and nerves of our nervous system.
What is MFR?
Myofascial Release (MFR) is a general term for a wide range of hands-on bodywork methods to release (loosen and soften) the restriction (tightening) of fascia that results from surgery, injury, and dysfunctional unconscious or subconscious holding patterns (habitual ways that a person holds their body in space due to pain, past trauma, and thought patterns).
These fascial restrictions cause pain, poor circulation, and many other problems due to the 2000 lbs/square inch of pressure that they have been proven to squeeze nerves and blood vessels with.
What is JFB-MFR?
John F. Barnes, PT developed his specific Approach to MFR (JFB-MFR) over fifty years ago, has taught over 100,000 practitioners, and is still actively teaching therapists and treating patients daily.
JFB-MFR is a gentle, safe, and effective form of MFR; some other MFR methods can be aggressive, painful, or injurious.
This process can help your body to relieve itself of tension, pain, numbness, and discomfort, allowing greater ease, freedom of movement, improvement in posture, and overall wellbeing.
Results are cumulative with repeat sessions, especially the more you allow yourself to feel sensations and emotions that come up as an area of your body is being treated.
This 5-minute video provides a very good explanation of the John Barnes' Myofascial Release Approach.
Who Uses JFB-MFR?
JFB-MFR is used by many licensed physical therapists, occupational therapists, massage therapists, physicians, and other doctors.
Although many studies have been published to document its effectiveness and what is known so far about how it works, it is not yet widely accepted as a legally-defined “scientifically-proven”, “evidence-based”, “standard-of-care” treatment procedure by our current healthcare system.
It is officially considered by today’s current medico-legal system to be an “alternative” treatment method that is not intended to replace traditional examination, diagnosis, and treatment with standard therapies of medication, surgery, or physical therapy, but ideally to be used in addition to any of those other forms of treatment.
What is a JFB-MFR Treatment Session Like?
The length of your Initial Evaluation & Treatment session will be 90 minutes. Subsequent sessions can be scheduled by you for either 60 or 90 minutes.
Evaluation consists of looking at and feeling your body symmetry, posture, movement, scars, and tissue texture/mobility, first while you are standing, from the front, back, and each side, and then further evaluating some areas after you are lying down. It begins while you are fully clothed and then while wearing the clothing that you prefer to be treated in… ideally, underwear or loosely fitting shorts, and for women, a bra or sports bra. Evaluation of various areas will also be done throughout the treatment session to evaluate progress.
At times, with your permission at that time, I may take before-and-after photographs to share with you for educational and visual feedback on your progress.
Treatment is done directly on the skin of nearly any part of your body, without lotion or oil. Parts of your body that are not in pain or discomfort will often be treated; that area may be causing or contributing to the pain that grabs your attention, since the fascial web of the body connects even its most distance parts.
Specific placement of my hands, fingers, or arms depend on the area being treated.
If touch near/on buttocks, breasts, or groin area is important for treatment, I will discuss this each time, and specifically request your permission to move clothing and touch the area, because of the private nature of these body areas, varying personal history and emotional sensitivities of patients, and the extra care needed to ensure that this hands-on treatment is not misunderstood to be a sexual violation, suggestion, invitation, or service.
The only internal area where I provide treatment, if needed, is the mouth. If I believe that you would benefit from internal pelvic floor treatment, I will refer you to other local JFB-MFR therapists who have been trained in this technique.
You will lie comfortably on a padded treatment table, in a private room, with relaxing music and a cover sheet if you prefer, although being able to see much of your skin is helpful, depending upon your level of modesty and comfort level with the room temperature; areas far from the area being worked on often provide clues about the effectiveness of the technique, as well as indication for other areas that may require treatment.
Treatment begins with slight pressure with the skin of my hands into the uncovered skin of the area being treated. Then, while continuing the gentle inward pressure, horizontal tension is also applied, very gently stretching the skin or pushing on a bone, until a slight resistance or “barrier” is felt, never forcing beyond that point. Then I hold this position “at the barrier”, for at least 5 minutes, and sometimes much longer.
You will feel mild-to-moderate pressure, stretching or pulling, and sometimes burning or pinching, especially if the fascia
in the area is particularly constricted. You are in charge of the intensity. I’ll ask you to tell me if you need me to “Halt” or “Ease Up” on the pressure so that you can relax and avoid tensing or guarding, which inhibits fascia from releasing.
During the hold time with each hand placement, your tissue will soften and relax a little at a time. You will often be able to feel this softening, as well as muscles relaxing that you didn’t realize that you were tensing. You can help this to happen by quieting your mind, breathing slowly, paying attention to what you feel during the treatment, and imagining the area softening.
How does MFR Work?
What happens inside your tissues is that abnormal thickened stiff bands of fascia begin to gently divide into more flexible fine strands and tubules, and tissue fluid begins to move more normally through them and around them.
At approximately 5 minutes of a sustained hold, anti-inflammatory chemicals begin to be released by your tissues, which is believed to be one of the reasons that JFB- MFR usually has more long-lasting effects than other forms of MFR or other bodywork.
What are the Possible Benefits of MFR?
Benefits, starting with the first session, can range from very subtle to very noticeable. Most patients improve best with a series of sessions and/or regular maintenance sessions, with improvement increasing over time.
Occasionally, short-term conditions can resolve in one session. But most conditions developed over a long period of time, so they need more than one session, as well as home self-treatment techniques taught by the therapist, to reach a lasting level of significant improvement.
Self- treatment includes various slow, gently maintained stretches and other maneuvers specific for your condition, as well as for general preventive maintenance.
What are the Possible Disadvantages of MFR?
The area directly over any implanted device, such as a pacemaker, artificial joint, shunt, or mesh, to name a few, must be treated with caution due to a possible risk of disrupting the placement of the device.
You are responsible for informing me of any implanted devices and any and all surgical procedures that you have ever had.
Temporary skin redness or mild bruising occurs occasionally because of the long hold times for the hand positions and use of bony prominences for leverage in some techniques. This is more likely if you have very delicate skin, take “blood-thinning” medications, and/or usually bruise easily.
If you are in any type of litigation for an injury or are applying for or receiving disability insurance benefits and/or Workers Compensation benefits, any improvement in your condition may affect that litigation or those payments.