Releasing Pain – the Underground Network of Tissues

Our bodies are brilliant mechanisms of design that keep us moving and functioning throughout our lives.  Yet hectic schedules, stresses and poor habits degrade our resilient but very intricate systems.  Often people are dealing with pain on a daily basis and have no true relief.

Fibromyalgia, once thought to be a very rare disorder, is a word we see constantly in magazine and television ads that are selling pharmaceuticals.  Fibromyalgia refers to persistent, body-wide pain affecting the soft tissues, joints and muscles – fibro (tissue), myo (muscle), algia (pain).

As you know, Evergreen Advanced Bodywork specializes in John Barnes Myofascial Release (MFR) – a therapy using timed stretches and pressure to release the fascia.  Fascia is a fluid and fibrous, three-dimensional tissue that makes up 80% of our connective tissue. This fibrous, fluid, three-dimensional web surrounds, infuses and connects to all our internal structures – muscles, bones, blood vessels; even our cells. Those with fibromyalgia have compromised fascia, which results in amplified pain all over the body.  Any compromise in the fascia – a stiffening or inflammation of it – will result in pain.  Often people have no idea their problems are related to the fascia.

Considering that we are 70% water, and fascia is 80% of our connective tissue, a clear correlation exists between keeping the fascia hydrated and pliable – and being pain-free.

fascia2As explained in this stellar article  from MFR Brisbane, the fascia is our “meta-system,” acting as the body’s vital cell-to-cell communicator.  Dr. Bruce Lipton, a cellular biologist at Stanford University discovered that each cell in the body is controlled by its membrane and not the nucleus and its genes. When a nucleus is removed from a cell, the cell survives a few months. Conversely, when the fascia (membrane) of the cell is removed, the cell dies.

The fascial complex of the brain is made up of glial cells, which is part of the “cellular consciousness” of the body. Glial cells outnumber neurons 9 to 1 and are vital to brain functioning, but have long been overlooked by medical researchers.

The Brisbane article further explains how our bodies response systems are thrown off by injury, trauma and stress. Typically stressors trigger our fight or flight response, but there is another, less well-known “freeze” response where changes to the fascia occur at the cellular level. When this happens the tissue transforms from liquid (healthy) to crystalline or a solid (dehydrated fascia).  Fascial restrictions then develop that cause the fascia to stiffen.  Research as far back as the 1960s described it like this: “Where the fascia once glided over the muscles and nerves, it now places crushing pressure at up to 2,000 pounds per square inch.”

Such stiffness and pressure in these tissues is the makings of joint pain, fatigue, inflammation and fibromyalgia. The good news is the fascia can be returned to its normal, healthy state with continuous effort and proper release therapy.

Modern Western medicine may not yet hold a full grasp on the inner workings of fascia or how to see and measure it, but there is no doubt it has significant role to play in overall wellness.  Honor your body by staying hydrated, stretched and positive!

To read further on how fascia works in our bodies:

The Myofascial Release Approach was developed by John F. Barnes.  Evergreen Advanced Body Works specializes in MFR.  Call 901-496-2881 for appointments.

John Barnes MFR Resources

With it’s increasing popularity, you’ve probably heard of Myofascial Release.  Perhaps you’ve read about fascia in an article or heard it mentioned in a news report,  although you’re still not clear exactly what it is or its role in the body.  Maybe you even have several friends who have received MFR, but they all describe it differently.

For a deeper understanding of fascia, what Myofascial Release is, the philosophy of John Barnes’ style of MFR and it’s history, I’ve included a link to John’s archives.  I’m always available to clarify or answer questions as you work your way through the articles.

My current clients may find it helpful to read about some of the topics we’ve discussed in our sessions.  I would love to hear any comments you might have.

Happy Reading!

The Healing Journey

john picRecently, I attended MFR II with John Barnes in Captiva, FL.  The question was raised, “How long will it take me to heal, when will I be done?”.   As MFR therapists, we constantly work on our own healing processes.  Healing is a journey of discovery.  There is no focus on the outcome, just a willingness to feel and become more aware.  Once we are aware of what is happening in our bodies and minds, we can decide what to change, what to let go of, and what to embrace.

How long does it take to learn something new?  How long does it take to let go of old belief systems and open to new possibilities?  How long does it take to heal physical and emotional trauma?

As long as it takes us to feel, to soften, to open.

John shared this poem with us at the seminar.  I think it encapsulates the idea that we have what we need to change/fix/heal inside ourselves.  It is a message of hope.

“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But,  it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in.  It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.  I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.”

― Portia Nelson, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery

Cold and Flu Season is here!

It’s that time of year, cold and flu season.  There is no “magic pill” to cure a cold or the flu.  It usually just has to run its course.  So I’m always looking for natural remedies to feel better and shorten the duration of symptoms.

Woman with tissue and hot drinkEven better, I do all I can to boost my immune system and get plenty of rest.  As they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

I recently found this great article with lots of tips from the UK.  I’m intrigued by the Wet Sock Treatment, and may just try it out the next time I’m feeling under the weather.  Let me know if you try any of these suggestions and how they work for you.  Please share with us if  you have any great home remedies or tips that you swear by.



Does Foam Rolling Really Release Fascia?

Foam rollers are the hottest tool for self-care today. Many of my clients say they have watched videos or read instructions in magazines and use them for self-myofascial release. However, they only get limited and temporary relief from tightness. It looks simple enough. What could be going wrong? Does foam rolling even release fascia?

To figure that out, we need to understand fascia. Fascia is a three-dimensional web of tough connective tissue. It pervades the entire body down to the cellular level. You have probably seen it before in the tough, glistening layers of a steak. Or in the thin, white, sticky layers of chicken that are difficult to cut. Repetitive stress, injury, trauma, or disease processes cause fascia to solidify and harden. A classic example would be a tight, hard IT band. Tight fascia pulls on adjacent tissues, and in our example of the IT band, could lead to knee pain, a pulled hamstring, pelvic rotation, hip pain, etc.

foam femaleFascia is made of collagen, elastin, and a gel-like ground substance. For permanent, physiological change, the collagenous portion of fascia must release. Research* has shown that the collagenous component of fascia releases with a low load of pressure over an extended period of time (minimum 3-5 minutes). This is the method used in John Barnes Myofascial Release. Any releases that occur before 3-5 minutes affect only the elastic component of fascia.

When we understand fascia, it is easy to see why my clients weren’t getting a true release. In demonstrations, foam rolling is done much more quickly. It is also done with an aggressive amount of force. This means that only the elastic component releases. Fascial creep eventually causes the tightness to return. Just like a rubber band that stretches, but then shortens to its original length.

So do I tell my clients to toss their foam rollers? Not at all! They can be helpful tools for self-myofascial release if used properly. Follow these principles used in John Barnes Myofascial Release:

foam female2• Find an area of tightness or tenderness with the foam roller.

• Wait a minimum of 3-5 minutes for the release to begin. (This will feel like butter melting or a piece of taffy being gently stretched)

• Follow the release three-dimensionally to the next area of tightness or tenderness, then repeat steps one and two.

• DO NOT force the tissues.

• Stay aware of what you are feeling at all times.

Don’t have foam rollers at home? Use these principles with any self-care tool including Nola Rolas, 3” or 4” balls, tennis balls, or racquetballs.

I would love to hear about your experiences with self-care and the results you’ve gotten. Your questions are always welcome.

*From research presented at the International Congress on Fascia. For more information visit

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” Anais Nin

What the heck am I doing writing a blog? That’s the question I keep hearing over and over again in my mind. I’m a total introvert and an unusually private person. This is definitely NOT in my comfort zone.

roseIt’s taken a long time for me to get here. Like most of you, I’ve had my share of emotional and physical trauma. At an early age, I learned the wisdom in hiding, becoming invisible. The safety in not being seen. And it worked for a long time….or so it seemed.

Then I began to study John Barnes Myofascial Release. I realized that if I wanted to become a true master of MFR (not a superficial dabbler) I needed to work on myself. One of the first things we learn in John Barnes MFR is that “you can only take people as far as you are willing to go”.

What does that mean? Well, if I won’t commit to my own personal growth, even if it is uncomfortable, can I really help anyone else on his or her journey? Unless I challenge belief systems that don’t work for me anymore, can I honestly ask my clients to? I’ve had to nudge myself along these last four years, slowly revealing layer after layer. Now it is time to blossom and expand to my full potential in order to help others do the same.

So, I’ve let go of the outcome and here I am, open and exposed. My hope is that by being “seen” on this blog that I can spark discussion. I’m not interested in just writing a series of lectures. I am, however, interested in hearing your comments and insights so we can learn and grow together.

It’s a huge risk for me and I would be lying if I said I weren’t afraid. But that’s kind of the point isn’t it? No one grows in his or her comfort zone.

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