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What is Myofascial Release (John F. Barnes approach)?

We are all familiar with the phrase “stress is stored in the body”; the fascia is physiologically where stress of all kinds is held, and it can cause havoc, both physically, and also emotionally. Tension in the body can have a big impact on our emotional health, energy levels and general attitude to life. Holding on so tightly is hard work!
Myofascial release, using the John F. Barnes approach, is a gentle, hands-on, whole body treatment which addresses the cause of your problem, not just your symptoms. John F. Barnes (JFB) is an American physiotherapist who developed this way of working with the body’s connective tissue, which is known as the fascia. The fascia is a tough connective tissue which spreads throughout the entire body in a 3-dimensional web, much like a knitted bodysuit. It surrounds every structure and system in the body, as well as being part of every cell and fibre. When the fascia becomes restricted from injury, trauma, surgery, physical or emotional stress, it solidifies and tightens, creating a crushing pressure on muscles, nerves and the circulatory system which causes pain and dysfunction. JFB Myofascial Release works to gently release these restrictions, restoring movement, balance and freedom.

What Can I Expect During Treatment?

After an initial assessment, you will be treated using hands-on techniques that work to gently release fascial restrictions throughout the body. Through palpation and seeing how your body moves, areas of tightness will be identified, and skillful treatment applied to affected areas. As the fascia is a whole body system, treatment with Myofascial Release aims to have a positive impact on the entire body. During treatment you may experience the advanced therapeutic movement aspect of Myofascial Release known as Myofascial Unwinding. This utilises the body’s inherent wisdom and allows for deep, and effective releases of old, restrictive patterns held within the connective tissue system. Through a combination of Myofascial Release and Myofascial Unwinding, long lasting relief and positive change can be experienced. Where appropriate, you will also be taught various self treatment methods so that you are able to continue the progress made during treatment between sessions.

What Do I Wear For Treatment?

Myofascial release is most effective when applied directly on the skin. Ladies, please wear sports bra and shorts, or underwear you are comfortable in. Guys, please wear shorts/boxers. You will be covered by a sheet/blanket as much as possible during treatment.

What Can I Expect After Treatment?

• You are likely to feel immediate relief from your symptoms and an improvement in functioning
• You are likely to feel very relaxed. People often describe a feeling of ‘lightness’
• Very occasionally, a treatment can set off a ‘healing response’ where symptoms may increase for a day or two before settling into new, healthier patterns(this is normal but if you have any concerns at all, please do not hesitate to contact the therapist)
• It’s important to drink plenty of water after your treatment as the fascia needs rehydrating (part of the fascia is fluid, and it is this part that becomes dehydrated and “stuck”.)
• Keep a note of how you feel physically and emotionally as this will help us at the next session

Women’s and Men’s Health

A lot of people suffer with pelvic related issues. For women, this includes menstruation pain, vulvodynia, endometriosis, polycystic ovaries, fibroids, incontinence and the emotional and physical impacts of pregnancy, birth, miscarriage and abortion. Women also suffer with fibrocystic breast tissue, pain from breastfeeding, myofascial restrictions from biopsies, surgeries, augmentation etc. The list is endless – and largely un-talked about. We suffer in silence, sometimes not wanting to cause a problem, or make others uncomfortable by talking about these conditions, and sometimes because of the feeling nothing can be done to help. This can lead to depression, stress, and yet more body shame, all of which perpetuate the tension of the physical body, and thus exacerbate our symptoms.

Many of these conditions can be treated, relieved and much improved with Myofascial Release. Scar tissue from episiotomies, caesarean sections, surgeries etc can be released with simple, gentle and effective techniques; pelvic floor tightness can be treated relieving pelvic pain; releasing the fascia around the pelvis can diminish period pain; breast tissue restrictions and scar tissue can be released reducing pain and tension. By creating more space and freedom within the body, many chronic and debilitating symptoms can be relieved, returning quality of life. Many women needlessly suffer pain during sexual intercourse which is often directly related to fascial tightness in the pelvic floor, coccygeal misalignment and restrictions in the vaginal musculature.

Pelvic floor tightness, pelvic pain, and the associated symptoms can wreak havoc in men, having a severe impact on quality of life, normal functioning, ability to work, sexual activity and day to day activities we take for granted such as sitting. When pelvic pain/tightness is in effect, something as normal as sitting down can become a dreaded activity, as the result is increased pain, seemingly unexplainable symptoms such as problems with urination and defecation and strange sensations in the rectal area that can be very hard to identify or talk about. Some men describe a feeling of a golf ball in their rectum, others experience a feeling of downward pressure, others are unable to quite pinpoint what the sensation is, but it feels “wrong” somehow; uncomfortable at best, and debilitating/overwhelming at worst.

As with pelvic issues in women, there can be a lot of shame and embarrassment attached to pelvic problems in men. There is no clear way to turn, with many men being diagnosed with various sorts of prostatitis, when there is often absolutely no infection or issue with the prostate. Exasperated medical professionals throw antibiotics and other medications at the patients, even if there is no actual evidence of infection, trying to offer some form of relief from misunderstood and seemingly not easily explainable symptom patterns. If medications provide no relief, surgery may be offered, or nerve blocks, or other fairly extreme measures. (PLEASE NOTE: Bacterial prostatitis CAN and should be treated with antibiotics, however many men are treated with medications without doctors checking for evidence of bacteria, therefore leading to long spells on medications that do not help at all. If your doctor has suggested you have any form of prostatitis, please ask them to do a full screening so appropriate treatment can be given.)

Symptoms associated with pelvic floor tightness in men include:
•Discomfort or pain in the rectum or perineum (the area between the scrotum and anus)
•Increased discomfort or pain when sitting
•Discomfort around the pubic bone in and around the area of the bladder
•Discomfort or pain in the groin area
•Discomfort or pain in the testicles and or/penis, often at the penile tip or in the urethra
•Discomfort or pain in or around the coccyx (the tailbone)
•Discomfort or pain in the lower back
•Discomfort or pain in the back, side or front of either/both thighs
•Disturbances in urination; may be pain, discomfort or burning when urinating, reduced urinary stream, increased frequency of urination (having to urinate every half an hour to two hours), urgency of urination (feeling they cannot wait when the urge arises) and/or a need to urinate frequently at night
•Increased discomfort or pain during or after ejaculation, reduced libido, erectile dysfunction (occasional or frequent inability to attain or maintain an erection), reduced ejaculate, softer erections and reduced sexual pleasure
•Anxiety
•Depression
•Reduced interest in participating in life and/or interpersonal relationships
•Low self esteem

Chronic tension in any part of the body has an adverse effect on the body as a whole. The fascial system (which is the connective tissue system of the body, literally responsible for connecting everything to everything else), can exert pressures of 2000lbs per square inch on pain sensitive structures such as nerves and blood vessels. This can cause all kinds of symptoms, such as those noted above. When this tension becomes chronic, it is almost like the body forgets how to relax. It is stuck in a constant fight or flight response, unable to soften, except now it is fighting itself.

When this chronic tension is in the pelvic area, or affects the pelvic area, we begin to see the appearance of the symptoms listed above. These tend to worsen over time as not many people seek treatment when they first notice something does not feel right. Usually, especially because of the body shame/embarrassment culture of the West, we allow things to get pretty bad before we ask for help. There is a strong link between body and mind, and this embarrassment/shame can also exacerbate symptoms. Part of the recovery process is about letting go of body shame and embarrassment about certain areas of the body, and moving into seeing our bodies/ourselves as the wonderful beings that we are.

Nothing in the body is linear. Nothing in nature is linear. We are multi-dimensional. We can move up, down, left, right, diagonally, sideways and any and all ways in between. Such is the nature of the fascia. It is an uninterrupted, 3-dimensional web made of micro-tubules of collagenous fibre and a fluid ground substance in between It exists in a state of ordered chaos. Everything affects everything else within the body. If you have a sore hip, it changes how you walk. Maybe you start to feel as if one leg is longer than the other. Then you notice there is a pull in your side, and that you have to adjust your shoulders to appear straight. And then your head seems to be pulled to one side and so you have to make yet more adjustments to compensate. A while later you present at the doctor with a sore neck. You forget that your hip ever hurt, and it doesn’t seem relevant, as this is about your neck. But when we begin to unwind the story (and the body) we start to get back to the cause rather than the symptoms.

Chronic pelvic pain and the associated symptoms are often relieved by treating the pelvic floor and the surrounding structures such as the thighs, lower back, gluteals/piriformis (a polite way of saying the buttocks!) and the psoas complex (often called the hip flexors). Although, as we work and release the fascia, we will likely find other areas of the body that require work as well, all of which helps to create more space within the body as a whole, and relieve the pressures, strains, tensions and symptoms being experienced.

Using recognised Myofascial Release techniques, it is possible to treat the pelvic floor internally/directly, in a gentle and effective way. Direct pelvic floor release procedures utilise Myofascial Release principles entailing the relaxation and lengthening of muscles, fascia and other soft tissue structures within the area of the pelvic floor, sacrum, coccyx, sacroiliac, hip and pubic joints. The procedure also requires pressure and/or distraction directly to the coccyx bone. These techniques are accepted physical/myofascial release therapy techniques. Experience has demonstrated that direct pelvic floor release is helpful, often facilitating consistent therapeutic results. Treating the pelvic floor can help with problems around the coccyx, sacral area, the sacro-iliac joints, hips, as well as helping create more space in the pelvic area which can relieve/improve some bladder/bowel problems.

As well as internal work, external MFR will be performed. The combination of internal and external work can massively improve quality of life, decrease symptoms and help support the body to regain optimum functionality. As previously mentioned, we can have a lot of negative and derogatory belief systems relating to our pelvic areas and so part of the recovery process is you developing a more positive relationship with your body. This can feel very hard when you feel like your body has let you down for years. With MFR, sometimes you may experience waves of emotion such as anger, sadness, frustration, rage.. This is all absolutely normal and natural, and the more we can embrace these emotions and release them, the more our physical body will be able to relax and let go, attaining and maintaining a state of health and relaxation.

This work is carried out in a clinical setting, using recognised techniques. Pelvic floor release can be done vaginally and/or rectally. Internal work is always done in conjunction with external myofascial release techniques as per each individual’s needs. This will be discussed with you at your first visit and you can ask questions as to what to expect.

Appointments:

Cost: £65 for 1 hour treatment

Longer sessions can be booked if required

To ask any questions, or to book, please contact Claire directly on 07564 905164 or email clairesangster@hotmail.co.uk