Fascia (connective tissue) is an ongoing, three-dimensional structure that exist from head to toe. Everything in the body is connected through fascia. Any restrictions in the fascia may cause pressure on pain sensitive areas that do not show up in X-rays, CAT scans and the like. Many horses and humans live with discomfort or pain and will change their posture and range of motion as a coping mechanism. Often this pain and lack of range of motion is caused by a restriction in fascia starting somewhere in the body over time causing tightness and discomfort/pain throughout the whole body.
Horses are flight animals, standing with all four feet on the ground. They have several anatomical differences to humans and are therefore more prone to fascial distortions. Often distortions are caused in paddock incidents and can therefore affect young and unridden horses.
Myofascial Release is a hands-on technique that allows fascia to release and re-align. It is a simple technique, is gentle and safe yet incredibly effective. Myofascial Release helps return fascia to its normal form and function. Rest and spelling will not do this, it will relieve but will not return fascia to function normally.
Directed releases targeted to specific areas of the body are also used to release subclinical issues, which can be very deep in an animal as large as a horse.
Some excellent references for those interested to learn more about Fascia and Myofascial Release:
Book: Myofascial Release: The Search for Excellence by John F. Barnes. PT.
John F Barnes has been credited with “one of the most significant contributions to healthcare in the last century for his understanding of the fascial system, muscle memory and chronic pain”. He is an internationally recognised physical therapist, lecturer, author and a leading authority on Myofascial Release.
Book: Facilitated Healing Through Myofascial Release
Ruth Golladay-Mitchell is a human physio therapist, who attended a John F. Barnes, PT Myofascial Release seminar and recognised the importance of his techniques. She assisted John and his sons in their seminars and started treating horses with him and his son Mark. After Mark Barnes could not continue teaching Equine Myofascial Release seminars Ruth taught this course for some time. In 1999 she also started teaching for Equinology Inc. and continues to do so until the present time.
- Video: What is Myofascial Release? https://youtu.be/-uzQMn87Hg0
"Often people walk past me whilst I am working on a horse and believe that I am massaging. I mostly work with Myofascial Release as part of a JENT session for the following reason:
A Myofascial release technique addresses distortions in fascia (connective tissue).
Myofascial release techniques will restore the fascia to its normal length and width, allowing change of posture and change in muscle tone, joint mobility and taking away pressure from important body structures, such as nerves and blood vessels. Therefore a horse is helped in many ways. Fascia or connective tissue can be found down to the cellular level of the body. It surrounds everything in the body, from head to toe or hoof - muscle, bone, nerves, blood vessels and organs. It is also three dimensional.
Fascia’s function is to support, protect and stabilize. It allows passage of infections and inflammatory processes, it offers a defence against foreign matter, it neutralizes and detoxifies, it assists in healing.
Any restrictions in fascia in time will affect the whole body and general health of the horse. Because fascia is three dimensional, once a restriction in fascia has begun it will in time cause tension throughout the whole body.
To give you a human example I could keep a friend with 2 compressed vertebrates in his lumbar spine pain free for about 7 days with Acupoint work (with Photonic red light) and Myofascial Release but only for 3 days with Acupoint work and massage.
The results achieved with Myofascial Release are very different from those achieved with massage.
The above also applies to humans (of course), so if you have not tried Myofascial Release you should consider it."
~ Elka Fischer ~