If you’ve received a myofascial release treatment using the John Barnes Approach, you’ll have noticed that your therapist holds each release for quite a long time. Most releases are held for a minimum of five minutes. Ideally, a release could be held for six to eight minutes or even longer, depending on what your therapist is feeling beneath their hands. This is one of the things that sets this approach apart from other modalities.
Other forms of myofascial release rely on forcing through the tissue, which is simply soft tissue mobilization. It doesn’t provide lasting results, and could potentially contribute to the underlying problem even more. The fascia is a delicate tissue that responds best to gentle, sustained pressure. In fact, one of the fascia’s various functions is to brace and protect the body against external force, so a gentler approach ensures that the fascia will let go naturally. The fascia does not even begin to release until it has been met with sustained pressure for a minimum of 90 to 120 seconds. As the tissue begins to release, the therapist’s hands will sink in to restrictions found within the deeper layers of fascia, and the client doesn’t receive the full benefit of any technique until at least the five minute mark. Research has found that there are even greater benefits to holding releases for longer periods of time. Once a release has continued beyond five minutes, the body begins to produce Interleukin 8, which is our natural anti-inflammatory agent. Having treated many clients post surgery, I’ve recommended getting myofascial release to aid in the recovery process and reduce inflammation naturally.
The John Barnes Myofascial Release Approach is the only form of manual therapy that holds releases for a minimum of five minutes. While time consuming, the results are well worth the wait. Myofascial release provides lasting results without using force and taps into our body’s natural ability to heal itself.