Over the years being a therapist I attended multiple seminars to learn new methods/techniques to add to my client’s health progress as well as shift my professional skills to a greater level. And on many occasions I witnessed and contributed to many of my client’s success stories, which brought me joy and fulfillment since what I love to do the most – help to create a positive change in people’s lives. Each course added new elements to my work and spiced up the routine. However, it was obvious to me that most of those methods fell short to produce long-lasting results, in addition there was a feeling of some missing component in order for me to make the real change to my client’s wellbeing.
At that point in my life my work experience as a therapist has passed a 5 year mark with the main focus directed at deep-tissue modalities as a treatment choice for my patients. I was 27 years old, being in worst shape then the majority of my clients and dealing with persistent ache and spasm in my forearms and hands, not to mention my chronic lower back pain that I had suffered from for years now. Sure enough my symptoms in my hands and forearms got labeled as - chronic tendonitis in order to get treated accordingly. My treatment regimen at most comprised of ice applications, ultrasound and tendon scraping techniques with the use of tools, results of which were very short-lived. I tried almost every treatment option available to alleviate my pain, all in vain. My condition was significantly worsening over time. In addition I started to notice how difficult it was for me to sit in a chair for more than five minutes without adjusting myself. Fatigued and frustrated at the situation I found myself in, in attempts to find the right solution for my pain relief my intuition led me to John F. Barnes introductory Myofascial Release seminars. I knew very little at that time about fascial system or myofascial restrictions in our bodies as a major cause for chronic or acute pain, injury, inflammation, surgery, trauma and stress.
I recall my astonishment after having witnessed John Barnes performing one of his techniques on female client, which further got her into unwinding – an integral part of MFR therapy, a relaxed state of mind in which our bodies become released from subconscious bracing patterns against trauma. To someone who is not familiar with its principals the whole picture of unwinding is likely to resemble a spectacle of watching person go through the series of spontaneous body movements/emotional outbursts. However the reality is that during this very natural, yet very awkward-looking process we achieve true and authentic healing!
After being in class for a while, my skepticism began to shift towards optimism. This whole experience was starting to make perfect sense to me. Why hadn’t I been exposed to MFR in the first five years I’d been practicing massage therapy already? I became aware of how primitive and narrow my perception of human body was as a therapist. Sadly, at school, they only teach you certain soft tissue mobilization techniques, but the mind-body connection is not part of any coursework.
We finally made it to hands-on portion of the seminar. For the first several techniques I didn’t feel much when I was the client on the table. I do recall, though, my brain being in so called “left brain mode” state of mind, busy analyzing things, which inhibited my proprioceptive ability to feel at maximum level. I also recall when I was the therapist and having held a stretch or position for five minutes seemed like an eternity. In spite all that I was already starting to feel subtle shifts within my body. I felt a little lighter, more fluid, and even a bit longer!
On the second day of MFR 1 I had an experience that was a catalyst for the positive in my life. I was a client on the table receiving neck release technique from one of the therapists. I desperately wanted (needed!) to feel the “famous myofascial release”. I remember hearing John’s voice in the background saying, “Take the risk, and leap into the unknown. Embrace the fear!” Tuning into my body and softening was easier then I thought, vocal and visual signals became less important as tactile signals intensified. I felt as I moved into a state where my consciousness is expanded beyond my physical body. It is a still and soothing place. Unwinding is basically all about trusting. Trusting enough to take your brakes off and to let go... At that instant I could feel how my fear started to come to the surface, it was a little scary at first to get in touch with it. “I don’t want to look odd or end up uncontrollably blubbering on the floor, especially in front of such a large group of people!” My rationale was fighting my basic body instinct of “letting go”. You see, where I come from we were taught to not let into temptation to feel vulnerable, which will make you look weak, and weak individual is a useless one!
Only about few minutes into the technique my fear transitioned into emotional outburst of laugh that was quite loud and unstoppable, as if the sudden wave of heat engulfed my whole-self and provoked me further into more profound release. It certainly felt right and not the least embarrassing! All of a sudden my fear of someone judging me has dissipated. I became aware of how those emotional blocks I had built throughout my lifetime interfered with my daily living, but finally the time has come to remove the brick wall! I did it… And I recall that being truly the most freeing experience of my entire life!
As the seminar continued my laughing episodes transitioned into involuntary full-body movements. I can remember quite a few cracks have taken place in the joints of mostly my wrists and neck area. Certain poses and stretches felt as the most intense and prolonged ones I’ve ever had to endure. Although, when the shift happened in my entire fascial system, it brought me more pain relief in this three day seminar than I had experienced over the course of years of varied healing modalities. I must say that chronic issue in my hands and forearms has been completely resolved and has remained this way up until now. Ultimately my lower back condition has been greatly improved, however, if from time to time I tend to do certain foolish things like overexerting myself in the gym or ignoring proper body mechanics while treating patients, I still get occasional aches in there. But now I’m in control of my pain, I treat those episodes through myofascial stretches and self-treatment techniques with the use of diaphragmatic breathing.
That whole body/mind experience was completely outside of my comfort zone, but so needed to untangle the twisted fascia of mine and to open new pathway for healing. Having become a healthier and happier version of myself, I’m now creating positive changes for my clients and their wellbeing, so they get to enjoy the long-lasting effects of this therapy.
I’m so lucky to have found my missing component, and I encourage all of you to begin this fascinating MFR journey of self-discovery!