Myofascial release pioneer John F. Barnes, PT, has trained more than 100,000 therapists and physicians in the Myofascial Release Approach since the 1970s. “In the normal healthy state, the fascia is relaxed and wavy in configuration. It has the ability to stretch and move without restriction,” Barnes explains. “When one experiences physical trauma, emotional trauma, scarring,
or inflammation, however, the fascia loses its pliability” (Barnes 2015). In addition to helping with many physical ailments, Barnes says, “MFR provides a safe, non-judgmental environment in which suppressed feelings can be expressed and released” (Myofascial Release Treatment Centers & Seminars 2015). Andrew Weil, MD, a leader in integrative medicine, is among those who acknowledge this connection between work on fascia and emotional release (Weil 2015).

Carole Osborne, who has practiced and taught bodywork since the 1970s and was named the American Massage Therapy Association’s 2008 Jerome Perlinski National Teacher of the Year, describes her work as “facilitating somato-emotional and neuromuscular integration.” In her view, Candace Pert’s research in psychoneuroimmunology demonstrated “beyond any doubt that the human is itself an interconnected holistic entity” (Osborne-Sheets 2002).

In a paper published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies in 2013, Paolo Tozzi, MSc, vice principal of the School of Osteopathy CROMON in Rome, concluded, “Fascial treatment may access [stored] memories and obtain therapeutic effects. Possibly during bodywork, the interaction of vibrational, biomagnetic and bioelectric fields between therapist and client may allow an exchange of information about the history and the present status of the living matrix” (Tozzi 2014).

To read more about how self-massage tools like foam rollers can release more than tight muscles and trigger points, please see “When Myofascial Release Gets Emotional” in the online IDEA Library or in the February 2016 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.


Barnes, J.F. 2015. What is fascia? Accessed Dec. 14, 2015.
Diego, M.A., & Field, T. 2009. Moderate pressure massage elicits a parasympathetic nervous system response. The International Journal of Neuroscience, 119 (5), 630-38.
Osborne-Sheets, C. 2002. Deep Tissue Sculpting: A Technical and Artistic Manual for Therapeutic Bodywork Practitioners (2nd ed.) Body Therapy Associates.
Tozzi, P. 2014. Does fascia hold memories? Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 18 (2), 259-65. Upledger, J.E. 2002. SomatoEmotional Release: Deciphering the Language of Life (1st ed.). Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Weil, A. 2015. Four reasons to try Rolfing.

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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