An Introduction to Myofascial Release and Physiotherapy at IHI
By Shannon Stoby, PT, MScPT
Do you have unexplained, seemingly unrelated symptoms? Do you feel unwell, but your test results are ‘normal’? Do you keep having recurrence of the same injury? Have you had an injury or surgery from which you do not feel you have completely healed? Maybe you are in fantastic shape, but have become ‘injury-prone’. Or, maybe you have experienced some form of trauma and are not healing in the expected time frame. These are among the many instances in which your fascial system may be the link to your healing.
Fascia is, basically, connective tissue—but it is much more ‘connective’ than any way we have previously thought of connective tissue! It runs continuously and three-dimensionally throughout the body, covering organs, muscles, nerves, blood vessels—essentially, every structure and system. When healthy, fascia is a fluid, dynamic tissue that allows us to move and function optimally. Through injury, surgery, inflammatory processes, repetitive postures and movement patterns, and general stress, restrictions in the fascia may form. When fascial restrictions occur, the tissue tightens, becomes dehydrated, and exerts pressure on the structures that lie beneath. Due to the interconnectedness of the system, these ‘snags’ can have unexpected and cumulative effects, causing pain and inhibiting movement. Additionally, as these restrictions are not visible in standard medical imaging tests, the effects or symptoms are difficult to diagnose.
Myofascial Release (MFR), as taught by John F. Barnes, is a holistic, hands on approach to treatment, which takes the symptoms into account while seeking the cause, acknowledging the roles of both the mind and the body. Through the application of sustained pressure directly on the skin, restrictions can be released without force, assisting in the relief of pain and regaining of movement.
What conditions can benefit from MFR?
To name a few…
• chronic pain
• acute injuries
• TMJ issues
• pelvic pain/dysfunction
What to expect in an MFR treatment
Expect to be treated like a whole person.
Injury and illness have many effects; the physical ones are obvious, but the emotional effects are there as well. Every facet of your healing is important.
Expect to be heard and believed.
Regardless of your diagnosis or the seeming randomness of your symptoms, you know your own body and deserve a voice in your care.
Expect to be looked at.
MFR takes the whole body into account. While your knee injury, for example, will be treated, the root cause may be elsewhere. In light of this, bring appropriate clothing for such an assessment! Shorts, a tank top or sports bra, or underwear are appropriate apparel for treatment.
Expect your therapist’s full attention.
MFR is an individualized, one-to-one, hands on treatment. It requires that the therapist be present and attentive to what is happening with your body.
Expect to be held accountable.
As much as it is the therapist’s job to be present, the patient must be equally present in both body and mind. The therapist is there to guide and facilitate your healing journey, but your progress is ultimately your responsibility.
Expect the unexpected.
Basically, expect nothing! Be prepared to listen to your body and honour it.
Myofascial Release has been both a personal and professional experience for me. I have learned a great deal about myself and about how profound a healing journey can be. Everyone’s journey is different in it’s time-line and path, and I look forward to being part of yours.
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Shannon Stoby, PT, MScPT
Shannon graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Physical Education with distinction, and followed with a Master of Science in Physical Therapy. She is licensed with the College of Physical Therapists of Ontario and is a member of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association.
Shannon has trained extensively in John F. Barnes Myofascial Release (MFR), and this is the focus of her practice. She has worked with patients with mental illness, has trained in women’s health treatment, and is a sports enthusiast; MFR allows her a means to assist with all of these issues in a meaningful way. She has also worked across the lifespan, with experience addressing the health concerns of older adults. Through her experience in work and in life, she has come to understand that there is more to healing than just the body. While physical health is paramount, the roles of the mind and the soul in health and healing are of equal importance.
Shannon is excited for the opportunity to work with the talented team at IHI, and looks forward to working with you, in wherever the journey may lead.