How is it that with little warning, our body starts to hurt? We wake up during the night trying to get comfortable, and rise the next morning feeling tight, stiff and sore. We push through, organise school lunches, business meetings, attempt the gym, and pain becomes a familiar acquaintance. Maybe it is the mattress, the fancy foam pillow, or is this what it’s like to get old? Sitting for long periods is irritating, making our head pound and our shoulder blades feel like they are glued together.
The physio asks about a fall or an injury but we can’t remember – unless it was tripping over the step or that one extra rep to show off. Somehow our back hurts, our feet ache, and by the end of the day our whole body feels 20 years older. A massage feels heavenly – but we would need one every day – and the exercises don’t make much difference, even when we remember to do them.
Years pass, we get referred to specialists for unexplained pain and other symptoms, yet the tests all come back clear. We know the constant ache is getting us down, but we also know it is not just in our head. No one likes taking painkillers and anti-inflammatories all the time, but what else do we do?
Maybe it was stress, a fright, tripping over the step, or a bitter argument so long ago we hardly remember, but something caused our body to ‘flinch’ and lock down in protection. Everyone needs a set of brakes to avert disaster, but what happens when the brakes stay on?
Every day since, our body has been further solidifying, the tissue drying out, and our body bracing for the impact that is long passed. Over time, this freeze response starts to put pressure on every bone and muscle, pinching nerves and crushing otherwise healthy tissue. Nothing shows up on the CT, MRI or X-ray. Blood tests indicate you couldn’t be healthier but doesn’t pain mean something is wrong, like an alarm?
Interestingly, the same tissue that holds us together can also cause us pain, all the while staying invisible to standard medical tests. This silent straight jacket of pressure is ignored by everyone – except us of course – because the first physicians in history who dissected dead bodies thought this tissue was just ‘packing material’ and an insulator like blubber on a whale.
Little did they know, this tissue is stronger than steel cables and can apply more force than the weight of a horse standing on a 10-cent coin. It is also the wall of every cell, the connection between cells, and the structure within the cell. It can’t be just packing material if it carries nutrients to the cell, waste from the cell, and tells the cell what to do, can it?
If we believe our body can heal anything, why can’t it heal this tightness in our tissue? Well it can, but it needs time and space. Most methods can achieve temporary results from a couple of hours to a couple of days, but the brakes are still on and we eventually grind to a halt. What will make the biggest difference to our body is to remove the bracing pattern and release the crushing pressure.
Our body naturally does this, it has its own self-corrective mechanism but no one has ever waited long enough for it to engage. Most people have never heard of this pressure-releasing response and actively try to shut it down or medicate it if it appears. It turns out that our body can release tightness in our tissue with just 5 minutes of gentle, sustained pressure. No sliding or rubbing, just constant hands-on pressure to engage the tissue until it knows the impact has passed and it is safe to release the brakes. This allows the cells to rehydrate, reorganise, and reset to their natural, pain-free state.
When the pressure has been released from our tissue, the stress dissolves, the pain evaporates, and we sleep better. As it turns out, there is nothing wrong with us – just like the tests said – and our cells feel 20 years younger again. For issues in our tissues, all we need is a therapist trained by John F. Barnes to help us release, unwind, and create a little more fluidity for our cells!
This information is based on the John F. Barnes Myofascial Release Approach™, a very effective hands-on treatment for pain, tightness and other tissue issues. John F. Barnes PT is a world-renowned physiotherapist and authority on myofascial release who discovered a natural self-corrective mechanism in the 1970s and has since trained over 75,000 physiotherapists, doctors and other health professionals in his methodology. John is a regular presenter at the American Back Society Symposia where his approach was credited as one of the most significant contributions to health care in the last century.
For help releasing pain and tightness, or more details on the myofascial unwinding approach outlined above, please visit www.PerthMFR.com.au
Joni Edmunds, DPT graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor’s degree in 2002. She completed her post-graduate work at Gannon University in 2004, receiving her Master’s and Doctorate degrees in 2004 and 2008 in physical therapy.
She began utilizing the myofascial release techniques and principles with patients after completing the Myofascial Release I Seminar in 2005. Joni continues to repeat John Barnes’ Myofascial Release Seminars and is an assistant instructor for Myofascial Release Seminars in North America.