I often describe to students that the energy which some clients ‘release’ as a response to myofascial release therapy is like the electricity from a lightning bolt. Not that it is in any way as powerful as that energy obviously, but it’s as haphazard, quick and sometimes feels quite focused and determined under your hands.
I have just spent the day with a great friend and colleague, Carol Davis, who is an expert in myofascial release both as a lecturer and practitioner. Carol was the professor of physical therapy at the University of Miami, has authored books on complementary and alternative therapy, has lectured in various countries around the world and teaches on the John F Barnes myofascial release seminars in the USA.
Carol is passionate about myofascial release, the promotion of the understanding of the role and responsibilities of the fascial system and how this knowledge can help us as practitioners help those with pain and dysfunction.
It was a joy today to discuss not just the techniques and practical application of myofascial release (MFR) but also the energy work brought from communication and resonance, verbally and physically, throughout the treatment session.
When you first learn to apply MFR techniques, we all learn by repetition. However, on our workshops, we teach that the techniques are only a part of the bigger picture. A technique is nothing if you can’t feel what’s happening under your hands. I hear so many students ask ‘how long do we apply this technique for’. It’s not about how long, it’s about what you feel and sense through your hands that tell you what’s happening, how to dialogue with the client, where to go next and what pressure to use.
‘It’s not how much pressure you use, it’s how much resistance you feel’
MFR is not about doing techniques like a recipe. When you are learning, that recipe and repetition will get you started but when you become experienced with the responses and feelings elicited with MFR, the techniques blend into insignificance and the energy of the work takes over.
Back to the lighting bolt.
Have you ever seen an electricity cable swirl with the force of the electric current? Remember the movie Back to the Future where Doc Brown is trying to plug the electric cable together so that Marty can go back to the future? The lightning bolt hits the clock tower, goes down the cable, hits the DeLorean and back to the future, he goes.
As the electricity flows down the cable, when it is not contained, it’s jagged, sharp and haphazard. When we perform MFR with sensitive hands, we help the client to ‘let go’ by encouraging the parasympathetic nervous system to take over from the sympathetic system. The client begins to drop their protective mechanisms that were, at one time, very valid and necessary but have been there so long they have become a habit pattern of perpetual bracing both emotionally and physically. This, now unnecessary, bracing pattern creates a torturous grasp holding people to ransom for years and even decades.
Our gentle and sensitive hands feel things changing beneath them and we mirror that gentle tissue reorganisation in our dialoguing giving the client permission to feel whatever they are experiencing. We begin to notice how their breathing changes, their skin flushes pink and how their body begins to tremble. This is the energetic release that is so familiar as a response to MFR. For some clients, it’s as if energy has been stuck inside their body for too long, desperate to get out. As soon as we take the strain off their body tissue with MFR techniques, it’s like the electric current in Back to the Future, it just rushes out of their body. The client experiences their body move very quickly, randomly and with forced stretch and compression all at the same time. The practitioner can feel the immediate environment change around them as the client moves into various positions on, and sometimes even off, the treatment table to obtain tissue change through physical stretch and compression. This movement can bring with it emotional releases from laughter and joy to tears and sobbing.
Other clients feel their body tremble, but they don’t move at all. Other clients can’t stop laughing, whilst others just quietly sob. Others just lay quite still and enjoy feeling the tissue reorganisation occurring in their body. We are all different and our responses to treatment are vast and varied.
Energy is all around us. All manual hands-on practitioners use energy and by definition, are energy practitioners. Whether you like it or not, you emit infrared energy through your hands which creates change in client’s body. This piezoelecrtrical change, or charge, causes the body tissues, the fascial system, to vibrate. This is what we call resonance. Imagine resonance like your body tissues and every cell playing a beautiful orchestral piece of music. Dysfunction can cause a flat or sharp note creating disharmony in the body. As the strain pattern is removed through MFR, resonance is restored to that beautiful piece of music.
MFR is energy work in every sense. Whilst MFR techniques create structural change which provides long lasting results, the reorganisation of body energy in the form of emotion, belief, personality, character, life history and attitudes are addressed by the sensitive touch of the practitioner. The MFR practitioner also uses valuable dialoguing skills and listens with their hands encouraging the client to ‘go with the flow’. The practitioner always follows, never leads and never forces and together harmony is restored.
Thank you, Carol for reminding me of the essence of the work!