Myofascial Release (MFR)

Developed by John Barnes in the 1970s, Myofascial Release (better known as MFR) can be performed by massage therapists and physical therapists.  It is a style of massage / physical therapy that takes a whole body "hands-on" approach to the evaluation and treatment of the human structure. The goal is to help return the body's capacity to adapt, by restoring three-dimensional balance. What this means is that it works on realigning the body to its proper shape through manipulation of connective tissue (fascia).

While the basic focus of MFR is to put the body into alignment (as the body tends to stay well when aligned), it can be used to remove pain, increase range of motion, and generally make someone feel better. 

Every part in the body is connected by fascia.  Consider it like the threads on a sweater which hold that sweater in shape.  If you pull one thread, eventually the entire sweater is affected.  The same is true for the human body.  The fascia is normally a nice, soft, rubbery substance that gives when we move. But through trauma, it can become hard and constricting. When this happens, the body’s alignment changes. We feel pain, and a host of other problems crop up. Trauma includes accidents, injuries, surgeries, bad posture positions.  If you look at someone, is one shoulder lower than the other?  Usually, if one shoulder is low, the hip on that side is high. This is caused by constricted fascia pulling that side together.

An MFR therapist works by applying a series of holds to help loosen, and relax the fascia. These holds are done skin on skin with no lubrication (this is not your normal massage) for a period of three to five minutes each. During this time, the fascia starts to loosen and eventually (in most cases) returns to its normal pliable state.  MFR starts with the alignment of the pelvis (the physical center) and then works up and down from there.  This work can also include compressions, glides, and stretching.

An example of constricted fascia is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (lumps in your wrists).  Doctors surgically remove the lumps leaving scar tissue which in turn create more Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  This is why it keeps coming back.  MFR has been used to get rid of Carpal Tunnel.  It has also been used successfully against Fibromyalgia, migraines, and scoliosis.  To a trained MFR massage therapist, this is the first approach when dealing with stiff necks, frozen shoulder, or tightness in most areas, and should be received when getting chiropractic work as it allows the work done by the chiropractor to have a longer lasting effect.

At the beginning of a session, an MFR therapist will evaluate the client’s physical alignment, as well as listen to what is bothering them.  But understand that while you feel pain somewhere, the cause may not be where the pain is.  Many times, the pain can be referred, meaning that something going on in one place may be felt somewhere else.  As MFR therapists say, “Find the pain.  Find the cause elsewhere.”

Since the MFR work is done at the level that it is, it tends to have a longer lasting effect than doing regular, oiled massage.  Most people who receive this work feel invigorated and looser afterward.  If you are having problems stemming from migraines, limited range of motion, to just pain, find an MFR therapists and get an assessment, and see if this might be right for you.