John F. Barnes is the father and founder of what we know as Myofascial Release. As a physical therapist, he has been teaching and practicing this method of soft tissue treatment for over 50 years. Many other modalities have started using his terminology while employing very different techniques than what he actually teaches. If you are looking for the original Myofascial Release, look no further.
Myofascial Release is a gentle, yet powerful, approach to soft tissue work that focuses on the fascia. While medical schools have taught for years that our fascia (the white spider web looking material you may have seen on your raw steak) was simply the “packing peanuts” around the muscles and bones, this could not be further from the truth. Fascia plays an integral role in every body system because it is intertwined with every single one of them.
For example, when a muscle feels “tight,” it is often the fascia that is causing the restriction, not the muscle. Therefore, it is the fascia that needs to be addressed, which requires very different techniques than muscles need. Fascia responds best to focused and prolonged holds or stretches (5+ minutes). Over time, the fascia begins to release and allow for proper movement of the affected areas. You can picture it like placing your finger on a cold stick of butter. If you push it hard and try to force your finger into the butter, the stick will crack. However, if you gently hold pressure, it will slowly heat up and allow your finger to sink into the stick.