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You Are Not an Object

Therapeutic Insight: The Myofascial Release Perspective— You Are Not an Object

By John F. Barnes, P.T., L.M.T., N.C.T.M.B.

(Originally published on January 3, 2011)

I have been a featured speaker at the American Back Society’s symposiums for more than 25 years. The American Back Society is comprised of a large group of the country’s leading orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, osteopaths, therapists, chiropractors, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) specialists interested in cutting-edge techniques. At each of my myofascial release lectures, I attempt to broaden these physicians’ focus to look beyond the symptom for the cause. I remind them that “a diagnosis is just a myopic description of a symptomatic complex.”

Symptoms are just the tip of the iceberg of a much deeper and more complex problem. In my seminars, I emphasize, “Find the pain, look elsewhere for the cause!” Rarely are symptoms anywhere close to the real cause, the fascial restrictions.

The physicians’ training, like ours, considered the body as an object. We were taught logical techniques for an illogical body. We were taught linear techniques for a nonlinear system.

You and I were taught protocols, routines and formulas that are “one size fits all” and yet in therapy that is what is called individualized care. For every diagnosis and symptomatic complex, there are billions of possible fascial restrictions that can cause the effects we label as symptoms.

The narrowly focused reductionist theory told us we were just mindless, linear objects. Then, we were taught techniques based on this erroneous view of the human body that only produced temporary results for a couple of hours to a couple of days. This is too low of a standard and we must—and can!—do better.

Instead, our myofascial system is a three-dimensional, nonlinear system that requires a whole array of different principles and techniques to be successful.

There is a fascinating DVD, called Strolling Under the Skin, that has just been produced in France that dramatically shows our three-dimensional, nonlinear fascial system. This new DVD represents more than 30 years of research on the fascial system by surgeon and researcher, Dr. Jean Claude Guimberteau, M.D.It is amazing to be able to see what we have been feeling under our hands with myofascial release; tensegrity, mechanotransduction and the fiber-optic aspect of the fascial system in action, the fluidity of the fascial system and liquid flowing through it.

John F. Barnes, P.T., L.M.T., N.C.T.M.B., is an international lecturer, author, and acknowledged expert in the area of myofascial release. He has instructed more than 75,000 therapists worldwide in his Myofascial Release approach, and he is the author of Myofascial Release: the Search for Excellence (Rehabilitation Services Inc., 1990) and Healing Ancient Wounds: the Renegade’s Wisdom (Myofascial Release Treatment Centers & Seminars, 2000). He is on the counsel of advisors of the American Back Society; he is also on MASSAGE Magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board; and is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association. For more information, visit