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What is Fascia?
Fascia is the tough connective tissue that creates a 3 dimensional web extending, without interruption, from head to toe and influencing the entire physical structure. Fascia's role is to support, stabilize, and cushion. It provides a sliding and gliding environment for muscles, suspends organs in their proper place, transmits movement from muscle to the bones they are attached to, and provides a supportive and movable wrapping for nerves and blood vessels as they pass through and between muscles.
Each part of the entire body is connected by fascia like yarn in a sweater. In the normal healthy state, fascia is relaxed, wavy and has the ability to stretch and move without restriction. In this state, your whole structure is aligned, balanced, mobile and able to function at its optimum capacity.
Fascia surrounds and separates every muscle, bone, nerve, blood vessel, brain/spinal cord, and organ all the way down to the cellular level. Fascia creates space through which nerves, blood vessels, and fluid pass.
The fascial system can affect every system and function in the body and is full of life, memories, emotions and consciousness.
Photos courtesy of: Hellerwork Client Handbook (Sara is not a Hellerwork certified practitioner) and Ronald A. Thompson, respectively
What are Fascial Restrictions?
Physical/emotional trauma, repetitive motion, poor posture, scarring or inflammation dehydrates the fluid component of the fascial system. The fascia loses its pliability, becomes shortened, thickened and binds down pulling the "sweater" out of its relaxed and balanced state.
These restrictions can produce pressure of up to 2000 lbs per square inch on pain sensitive structures and act like a "straight jacket". These restrictions can compromise any system of the body causing pain and dysfunction to the digestive, circulatory, reproductive, neurological and/or muscular systems. Myofascial restrictions cause your body to be out of optimal alignment and over time causes lack of mobility, dysfunction and pain.
Common symptoms of fascial restrictions include pain, decreased motion, numbness, headaches, infertility, and bowel/bladder issues. Because the fascia is an uninterrupted web extending from head to toe, restrictions will be present in areas of the body distant from the current symptoms. John F Barnes reminds us to find the pain and look elsewhere for the cause.
Fascial restrictions do not show up on standard tests such as x-rays, MRI's or CAT scans.
John F. Barnes (JFB) Myofascial Release (MFR) is a very effective hands on technique which provides sustained pressure and stretch combined with movement (unwinding) to "melt" and unravel our myofascial restrictions. Restrictions are held at the barrier for 2-5 minutes or longer allowing connective tissue to elongate and essentially removing the "straight jacket" from the system. Using this 3 dimensional stretching approach, JFB MFR releases the collagenous aspect of the myofascial complex resulting in permanent structural changes.
MFR finds that most postural imbalances are due to fascial restrictions, not weakness. By following your body's road map to the source of imbalance, MFR structurally and energetically opens and rehydrates the fascial systems' flow. This allows the chronic inflammatory response to resolve and the body's natural healing capacity to function properly.
To get the most benefit from MFR, the patient must be aware of emotions and sensations that are revealed in their body during and after treatment. Healing involves more than structural and physical improvement alone. A shift in awareness needs to take place in order to create positive and lasting changes. Old, outdated messages, patterns and beliefs need to be released in order to create space for healthier, more constructive ways of being.
When fascia is released, clients may feel warmth, tenderness, skin redness, shakiness, increased motion, structural shifts, less pain, and improved posture.
Fascia holds all the emotions that occurred during a trauma. Emotional releases are fascial releases. Common emotions felt during releases are sadness, happiness, anger, pain, fear, anxiety, and freedom. They may or may not have meaning to you during the release. You do not need to know the meaning of the emotion that occurs.
Photos courtesy of: John F. Barnes JFB Myofascial Release
What is Unwinding?
Myofascial Unwinding is a spontaneous movement of the body via the mind. It is an innate self-correcting process that helps to bring bracing/holding patterns, memories, emotions or sensations into the conscious mind and release them. The therapist will guide the patient into significant positions of past trauma where true healing can occur and allowing space for healthier and positive changes.