Massage & Bodywork

SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2016

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C h e c k o u t A B M P 's l a t e s t n e w s a n d b l o g p o s t s . Av a i l a b l e a t w w w. a b m p . c o m . 79 without a spotter at the gym one day. Lifting 300 pounds from a squat, he fell, and in an instant, his life changed. With a herniated disc at L–5, he had a long road to recovery ahead of him—and his athletic goals vanished. Yet, it was through this trauma that Barnes figured out how to help others. "After surgery to repair the injury, there was a point when I realized no one was going to help me but me," Barnes recalls. Although he received only minimal information about fascia while in physical therapy school at the University of Pennsylvania before graduating in 1960, Barnes knew enough to understand that he felt better when he self-addressed this underlying tissue during his recovery. He began working his sore points, and eventually learned the nuance of being more gentle with his pressure as he addressed the significant solidification of ground substance in his tissue. An understanding of the body-mind connection was also paramount in his journey. "My early experience with karate is where I learned about energy and flow," he says, although some of that was lost over the years during his early PT training. "I had to be broken to get back in touch with my intuition." This would end up being a critical component of his MFR development. When Barnes signed up for a rudimentary course on the connective tissue system, he says his eyes were opened. The first day of the class, with beginning students working on him, Barnes's back pain started to subside after years seeking help from a variety of experts. "I had positive structural change, where the best in the world couldn't help me before." Eventually, Barnes's exploration into self-care would help develop an approach—a mosaic of techniques—that would come to inform all his myofascial work and morph into MFR. Today, Barnes has trained more than 100,000 physicians, PTs, and massage therapists in MFR techniques. Leading more than 40 MFR seminars a year, Barnes still enjoys watching his students arrive at their own "aha" moments of discovery. "I enjoy seeing the lights go on, when they switch to something deeper, and all of a sudden get it," he says. "I enjoy teaching and treating, as much as I did the first day." Barnes maintains two treatment centers in Arizona and Pennsylvania, where he splits his time when not teaching. Many who come to him for help are therapists themselves. Having lived the workshop experience, they come seeking help for their own issues, with many participating in an intensive two–week program of care. Barnes says helping others find their way out of debilitating pain fuels his passion for the work. "I see how it changes people's lives in a very positive way." OPEN TO THE POSSIBILITIES The old adage that "seeing is believing" is what convinces people of the value of this work. "It's important you experience and feel this for yourself," Barnes says of myofascial release. "We don't try and teach people this intellectually." That wouldn't work. "They have to feel how it affects their own body first." Many come to MFR workshops having reached a dead end in their own training. The search for lasting results pushes them to find answers for themselves and their clients. Barnes says from the beginning, massage therapists have been open to the concept of myofascial work and its potential. And PTs are opening further to the possibility that there's something more going on in the body. Barnes says, "There's starting to be a shift in their awareness." Barnes is excited about the fascial research taking place in the field today, and notes the work of Jean-Claude Guimberteau, MD (see page 54), Paul Standley, PhD, Carol Davis, DPT, EdD, and so many others as paramount to our understanding of fascia and its potential. He truly believes the answers lie within. "We will always need medicine and surgery, but with the potential it affords us, I believe myofascial release could be the health care of the future." For more information on Myofascial Release Seminars and the work of John Barnes, go to www.myofascialrelease.com. Karrie Osborn is senior editor at Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals. Contact her at karrie@abmp.com. John Barnes, illustrating the power of the fascial web in our bodies, says fascia is a liquid crystal.

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