client face down with massage therapist's hands on back
client face down with massage therapist's hands on back

Myofascial Release: The Benefits of Sustained Pressure

By John F. Barnes, PT, LMT
May 11, 2022

Myofascial Release: The Benefits of Sustained Pressure

By John F. Barnes, PT, LMT
May 11, 2022

When humans are traumatized—whether from a fall, car accident, or surgery, for example—a vector of force is thrust into their body. Sometimes, these events are the final straw in a series of microtraumas that accumulate before, finally, the person is thrown over the edge into massive dysfunction and pain. Perhaps these microtraumas are the result of a series of life’s stresses or a combination of smaller injuries that finally become too much.

No matter, this vector of force is energy that is driven into our body, and though some have questioned the validity of energy, many people’s experiences have shown it is real and very important.

Energy + the Fascial System: Your Body's Superhighway

In the past, our fascial system was assumed to be nothing more useful than the body’s packing material or insulator. This idea, though, doesn’t account for the energy carried by the fascia system. When physical and emotional microtraumas compound, it may seem like the natural flow of energy is interrupted and the fluidity of the fascial system is changed, causing the ground substance to become more viscous.

Because the fascia system is so ubiquitous, much of the research we have has been done postmortem. Recently, there is research coming out suggesting the fascial system is the main transport medium for all that you ingest nutritionally, the fluid you intake, the air you breathe, all your hormones, biochemistry, and every one of the trillions of cells that you need to thrive.

The fascial system has erroneously been thought of as an insulator of energy, but instead it acts like a fiber optic carrying light and an enormous amount of information through the fluidity of the microtubules of the fascial system at an enormous speed.

When in doubt, recall the genius of Einstein and his famous equation e=mc2, which says that energy and mass are interchangeable, different forms of the same things. Going back a little further, you’ll find Nikola Tesla telling us: “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”

Myofascial Release for Myofascial Restrictions: The Necessity of Sustained Pressure

Science is starting to help us better understand the fascial system is a piezoelectric tissue. What do I mean by that? Piezoelectricity is a Greek work for “pressure electricity.” Myofascial release is about converting the pressure from our hands into a bioelectrical flow.

From here, a phenomenon called mechanotransduction is initiated, which is a biochemical and hormonal reaction stimulated by sustained pressure. If you’re thinking that practices and activities like massage, manipulation, mobilization, and exercise put pressure into our bodily system, you are correct.

The problem, however, is that when practicing massage therapy we’re often too quick in our technique to allow for these phenomena that have to do with mind-body selfcorrecting mechanisms. In other words, massage therapists need to slow down when performing myofascial release.

See Also: Slow Down: Pacing Myofascial Release for Maximum Benefit

Every body you work on is unique, and that means that myofascial restrictions are going to be unique to every client you see. You have to first find the myofascial restriction, and then massage therapists need to apply sustained pressure to get maximum benefit.

This slower pace combined with more sustained pressure may not be something you learned or are used to when starting a massage session with a client. But without a slower pace and sustained pressure—especially when working on myofascial restrictions—the results will often be superficial and temporary.

The sustained pressure we are discussing creates a current, a stimulation of the electromagnetic field that allows for a rehydration of the ground substance that the myofascial restrictions have made viscous. As fluidity returns to our system, the proper flow of the healing energy of our bodies is also returned.

Adding myofascial release to the other massage therapy techniques you practice will give you a more holistic and comprehensive way to work with your clients.

Read More from John Barnes

Mind, Body + Myofascial Release: Easing the Pain of Trauma

Can Myofascial Release Help with Anxiety, Depression and Exhaustion?