In the Amazon Body healing massage and a Registered Nurse is born

Being reborn as a Registered Nurse now, I decided to head south to the Amazon in Brazil for a dose of healing. There, deep into the forest surrounded by the heart beat of nature in all its tremendous sounds, colors, and purity I experience body healing for myself. As a healthcare practitioner and being a Certified Massage Therapist, my focus has been on supporting and encouraging health and healing for my clients. Now, being in the Amazon for a month or so, I was able to replenish, restore, and balance my own self. A key to helping others with their own body healing through massage therapy.

My experience as a first time Nurse in the Amazon, was one of observation, learning, speaking with the community to understand their approach to health, treatment and healing. As an RN and Massage therapist the learning never ends, I aim to return to the Amazon again and again for my own professional and personal development in the years to come.

Let’s talk Fascia, but more therapy PLEASE

Finally, a well written, informative, main steam view about Myofascial release for the masses. Numerous clients have actually referenced this article as part of what has influenced them to seek Myofascial release treatment.

Slowly but surely, the good effects and word are spreading.

Less talk, More therapy
By JESSICA WOLF NOVEMBER 17, 2014 7:00 PM November 17, 2014

Couch is a series about psychotherapy.

My first session with Ann E. began as they all would: I stood against a wall wearing only a sports bra and underwear while she stood against the opposite wall, looking me over. She had me face north, south, east and west, and each time her eyes seemed to be tracing invisible lines down my body.

Being with Ann E. feels a little like being in psychotherapy, except you’re usually lying on a massage table in your underwear. It costs about the same for a session, although it lasts a lot longer and she doesn’t care if you doze through most of it.

Settled on her table that first day, I explained to her that I’d had many intractable physical problems in the last several years, the most recent being a pain in my knee that no medical professional could make heads or tails of. I couldn’t sit cross-legged on the floor or rise up out of a full squat, and I’d feel a sharp stab whenever I slipped that leg into my jeans. Some yoga practitioners that my husband knew had recommended I see her about this.

After I’d spent 30 minutes on the table, Ann E. still hadn’t attended to my knee.

She hadn’t so much as looked at it. In fact, she didn’t even touch me. She just held her open palm a few inches from my body — first at my hip, then my feet, then my other hip, then at the top of my head — and I became so relaxed I fell fast asleep in the middle of her talking to me.

I barely woke up as she started pressing her finger into my C-section scar. “What are you doing?” I asked her.

“Releasing fascia,” she said. Fascia is a connective tissue throughout our bodies that acts like webbing, keeping our innards where they’re supposed to be.

As she pressed on my scar, Ann E. talked to me about my body in a way I wouldn’t really come to understand for many months, but which I could experience the effects of right then and there. She used one or two fingers, touching my torso gently until she felt something release, then she’d move her fingers an inch or two to a new spot and press gently there.

I didn’t know what I should expect from this subtle prodding, but it wasn’t for my lungs to inflate like balloons. As Ann E. worked, my breath deepened, my lungs filling as they never had. “My breath just completely changed,” I said.

“Yeah, I just created some real estate in your torso so your lungs are less constricted,” she said.

Now she had my attention.

* * *


Credit Getty Images
Although I have spent about three decades — nearly my entire adult life — in talk therapy, I have always felt fundamentally unfixable.

My longest therapy stint started in my late 20s. I was always sort of unhappy, but went to a therapist specifically to stop smoking cigarettes and to leave my job. At the end of six years, I was still at the same job and still smoking. Then, my company closed and I got pregnant, so my job ended and I quit cigarettes. But I don’t think I really changed at all.

I had always been skeptical of anything too “alternative,” until about eight years ago, when I first started to see the connections between mind and body. I’d been referred to a psychologist to deal with back pain. But even that experience, despite eliminating the distress in my back, felt like more of the same — we sat across from each other, I told my story, I talked about my “feelings,” I cried.

I could have gone on like that for years, just as I had with other therapists, because no matter what I said, or how I looked at my story, the emotional pain always felt fresh and new. I felt stuck.

* * *

After pressing on my C-section scar, Ann E. moved around the table to my right shoulder. I had injured this shoulder twice. It took almost a year for the first injury to heal and then eight months later I reinjured it, leaving me in such discomfort I had to prop my arm with pillows when I drove. After doctor visits and months of physical therapy, the pain was gone, but I no longer had full range of motion.

I hadn’t told Ann E. any of this. I’d told her only about my knee, which she continued to ignore.

“Don’t touch me there,” I said as she approached my shoulder. “It makes me uncomfortable even having you near it.”

Yet ever so gently, she slid one hand under my shoulder and then even more gently, laid her other hand on top of it, holding it as lightly as you would a baby bird, and in an instant I was sobbing uncontrollably.

What she was doing did not hurt and there was no sadness — or any specific feeling — attached to the crying. Tears streamed from my eyes, and my chest heaved. It went on like that for maybe five minutes, and then the crying stopped suddenly and completely, as if it had never happened at all.

And without moving a muscle, I could tell that my shoulder had changed.

Ann E. refers to her work as “unwinding” and likens the process to taking apart a big ball of tangled necklaces. Each tangle has come about through some emotional or physical injury from which our body has attempted to heal. But the body compensates in areas where it is weak, and those compensations turn into habits. The pain we feel is largely due to a once efficient system no longer working the way it should.

When Ann E. presses into fascia that has become gummed up like glue, holding parts of our insides where they don’t rightly belong, her touch somehow “dissolves” the gooeyness and allows the fascia to revert to its original light, fluffy nature. With each of these releases, the “necklace tangle” loosens and our bodies can start to sort out the mess that has been accumulating for so many years.

As I discovered on that first day, she rarely works where the pain is. She says that the body provides her a map of where it’s really hurting, pulling, stagnant, frozen, and she starts there, unfurling one little piece of the necklace ball, so that the body can begin its own organic process of unwinding itself back to health.

* * *

My shoulder was not the only area that incited sobbing. This would happen many times, with other parts of my body, during my work with Ann E. Every episode came on the same way: I suddenly felt very vulnerable, almost unbearably so, and then the tears came, completely devoid of emotion, and then they stopped, leaving me feeling as if I were suddenly freed of something.

What happened on that table was like nothing I’d ever experienced. I cried harder than when I was 17 and lost my father to cancer, harder than when our family dog was run over by a truck a month later, and harder than when I was dumped by my first love.

But this is a body crying, not the crying of a heart.

I’m not quite sure how to explain how the emotions become unstuck, but as with my shoulder that first day, much of my lifelong pain now feels as if it had never been there in the first place. The main thing I feel is a kind of unfamiliar optimism, along with a lot more energy — energy that, Ann E. would say, has been freed up from letting go of longstanding trauma.

I continue to let Ann E. untangle me. I try to trust that she has my best interests at heart. I wrestle sometimes with how much I’m willing to let myself need her. But as I unwind, I sleep better. I breathe better. Parts of me that have hurt for years have stopped hurting. When I look in the mirror, I’m still middle-aged and my hair is still graying, but I feel able, possibly for the first time, to truly cope with life.

Jessica Wolf is a freelance writer and editor.

Benefits of Myofascial release therapy

myofascial cross handed releaseThe question continuously asked by clients, family, and friends, “what is the difference with deep tissue Massage and myofascial release therapy anyway?”
Usually, I strive to describe myofascial release as a stretching and lengthening of your inner spanx-suite. As quirky as this comparison may be, most of us can relate to it. To really help shed some light on this important question, I will remind you how it feels when you do go in for a wonderful full body spa style deep tissue massage. You are desperately in need of some relief of intense pressure in your shoulders that are glued to your ear lobes. Your skilled licensed massage therapist relentlessly pounds and chisels away at the rocks in your back. And for one sweet moment…ahhhh. You feel the relief. Glorious relief!

You graciously leave the session, thanking your therapist, leaving the studio feeling somewhat altered and better in a way. However, not more than 24 hours post session, your shoulders start creeping upwards to the beloved earlobes that they refuse to leave…and once again…you feel like you need a MASSAGE!!

This is where your LMT trained in Myofascial release can really help you affect more lasting change. Here I will mention the “P” word. Everyone wants more PRESSURE in order to get “more” out of the session. I will address this in the next blog posting:
“The great misunderstanding about Pressure.” For this particular conversation, we will simply mention that myofascial pressure is graduating, subtle, effective, and eventually intense.

The great benefits os Myofascial release targets the connective tissue layer, known as Fascia. This kind of soft tissue responds to a slowly applied graduating level of pressure that allows the therapist to feel layers of the restriction in the connective tissue as they begin releasing or unwinding. When deeper more confrontational pressure is used, as with deep tissue massage techniques, it will actually bypass the fascia and dig happily into the muscle. For most people, this deep pressure equals instant gratification versus, long term relief that Myofascial release offers. Once the fascia begins to soften, and the underlying fibers become less crystallized or hardened. Allowing YOU the client GREATER ease in your movement, balance from head to toe, AND RELIEF of your deep tension patterns.

So…Myofascial release versus deep tissue massage means a slower approach to applying pressure, it feels like a sustained placement of pressure, gradually sinking into touch restricted points; intensity appears over the course of 1-2 minutes at your Myofascial release therapist holds pressure in an area. Deep tissue is more of a confrontation, direct application of immediately deeper pressure. Also, focus is more associated with drawing in blood circulation to areas that are blocked.

My question to you…what are the benefits you are seeking in your body therapy session? You do have a choice so chose wisely.

Myofascial Stretching exercises

When clients ask me about what they can do between Myofascial massage sessions to maintain their improvements, I talk about Myofascial stretching. This is the stretching technique I most refer my clients to experiment between their Myofascial sessions. There’s a ton of value working with just a few basic myofascial stretch exercises everyday for a week or so, then moving on to another, gradually adding to your stretching routine.

The book I like best so far is called: Myofascial Stretching: A guide to self treatment. It’s worth ordering along with the soft yellow therapeutic ball. The ball allow for targeting trigger points and increasing intensity tough areas of tension. It’s highly effective, easy to do, and transportable if you travel.

Myofascial Stretching is a unique self-treatment technique…

It follows the principles of Myofascial Release (MFR) as developed by John F. Barnes, PT. It results in permanent lengthening of the body’s connective tissue and can dramatically improve health and quality of life. The techniques employ sustained pressure using a small inflated ball and active elongation into restrictions in the fascia. These two methods complement each other. This book was written for both the lay person who has chronic pain, muscular tightness and/or postural dysfunction and for clinicians to give their patients for home exercise programs. It will benefit anyone with pain or tightness. It can also eliminate many of those aches and pains that you were told are part of the “normal” aging process and you just need to live with. Maybe you don’t!

helpful book about Myofascial stretching for everyday use



Foam Rolling and Myofascial stretching

Ideas about positioning for foam rolling your front legs

This is another system of myofascial stretching exercises that adds immense value to your everyday alignment and comfort. More and more people are discovering the benefits of rolling out their pain and chronically tight areas. It involves some research and skill on how to position yourself on the roller. Certain body parts are easier to roll than others.

Have you tried to roll your Illiotibial band??

That’s when foam rolling really gets more interesting!

If you are interested in hands on, one-on-one tips for rolling out the tension and pain, call or email me about scheduling a Myofascial self-care consult.

Amanda Donis, LMT

917-688-2435 or



Image representing Magnified image of Fascia stretching due to injury

What happens if your fascia become tied up?

Myofascial Release: What is Fascia anyway?

The words fascia and myofascial release sound funny and you wonder why it has to be released. But when your fascia is tied up or stretched, the resulting pain is not funny at all. If you are not sure what it is, think about the thin filmy, gluey outside layer of chicken breast that after skinning, you generally toss away. You know how long it takes to unglue from your hands and fingers trying to get rid of it. Well, that is like the fascial tissue that covers and permeates our entire skeletal frame from head to toe. It even overlays and interweaves through our organs and muscles. So it’s basically EVERYWHERE in our bodies.

Effects of Injured Fascia

Fascial tissue has been referred to as an organ system of its own! This is not yet been widely accepted in the journals of medical science, but new areas of research are being developed and more articles regarding the presence of fascia are becoming mainstream. An article published June 2013 in the Washington Post regarding the up and coming presence of Myofascial Pain Syndrome as a new possible diagnosis for unexplainable, and seemingly unrelated, areas of pain.

To understand more clearly how injured fascia affects our comfort level, productivity, ease of movement, and pain-free existence, we should understand that fascial tissue is an extremely strong form of connective tissue generally known as, soft tissue. It can exert a tensile force of 2,000 lbs per square inch! No wonder damaged soft tissue wreaks such havoc on our bodies.

What this really means is that if the fascial tissue becomes hardened in texture, or less viscous, due to  mental and physical stress, then scar tissue forms. The damage may be due to injuries, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, overworked muscles, or dehydration. The fascia’s response to these attacks will exert increasingly enormous pressure under our skin and throughout our body. No wonder we’re walking around with so much pain, tension, and discomfort in our bodies.

The added complication is that, if you do seek assistance using a medical diagnostic tool, a fascial restriction does not show up on an x-ray, MRI, or CAT scan. Many people suffering from chronic pain go without a diagnosis, since there is no visual evidence of what is causing the pain. This is clearly a frustrating, endless, and costly situation.

The Good News: Myofascial Release

Myofascial release is a therapeutic massage technique. When applied correctly and over the course of several sessions, it can provide great relief from long-term, seemingly unrelenting pain issues. Unwinding the intense pressurizing force of facial restrictions can have profound effects on your local pain and overall sense of well-being.

For more information about specific conditions Myofascial release work can help address. Check out I use myofascial release techniques to help my patients deal with chronic pain.

Do you have pain? What have you tried? Have you tried myofascial release? What are your experiences it or other types of therapeutic massage? Do you think you have damaged fascia? Comment below!

Image representing myofascial release therapy

Slow Down and Experience the Relief with Myofascial Release Therapy

How To Know When Myofascial Release Therapy Is Working

Myofascial release therapy is not a one-shot deal. It works cumulatively, meaning one treatment builds on the next.  There are certainly instances of Myofascial release producing immediate results. However, this is more an exception than the rule—and when it happens, the results tend to be short-lived.

If you want lasting results from Myofascial release, especially for a chronic condition, you must commit to the process.

This approach to healing is unfamiliar for our fast-paced, “want it now”  orientation most New Yorkers are accustomed to. Being introduced to a more subtle long-term, cumulative perspective can be confusing and frustrating.

Sometimes instant-gratification junkies need to be thrown a bone! Fortunately, there are several indications that Myofascial release is taking effect—even if your primary symptoms have not yet resolved. When these six signs appear, symptom relief typically is not far behind.

1. You’re Moving Better

This is a highly common sign that Myofascial release is doing its thing. If you have been struggling to maintain certain positions such as bending over to tie shoes, stretching to make the bed, or reaching for something, after regularly scheduled treatments, you may suddenly find ease and fluidity in these simple life activities.

Increasing your comfort, sense of ease, and feeling of well-being are great indicators that Myofascial release therapy is working for you.

2. You’re Sleeping Better

This is one of the most common signs that Myofascial release is doing its thing. Even if you’re not someone who struggles with sleep, you still may notice yourself sleeping more deeply the night after treatment, waking less during the night, or feeling more rested and pain free upon waking.

3. You’re More Aware

When Myofascial release starts working, it can feel as if all of your senses just got a tune-up. Since you are releasing pressure that has been compressing on nerves, muscles, circulation, even your brain, you will inevitably start to feel more sensations throughout your body. Maybe you notice the way you tense your shoulders when you sit at the computer, or your jaw clenching habit becomes more noticeable to you. You may discover that as soon as something stressful happens, your stomach tightens and your breath becomes shallow.

4. You’re More Emotional

Many of us are amazingly skilled at funneling emotions into our bodies. It’s a defense mechanism that allows us to avoid dealing with these things—until, of course, our bodies start paying the price for it. Most people who seek therapeutic massage treatments are dealing, at least on some level, with emotional stress as a contributor to their physical symptoms. Myofascial release can be like peeling an onion. Layer by layer, it exposes us until it gets to the core. Since the techniques work by addressing restrictions deep within the soft tissues, the process can cause repressed emotions to surface.

You may be quicker to cry or notice yourself feeling more sentimental than usual. In general, emotions—good or bad—are felt more intensely. This is a good thing. It’s a sign that layers are being peeled back, your commitment to regular therapeutic treatments is working.

5. You Have More Energy

Although receiving Myofascial release is a relaxing, energy-grounding experience, your energy level may rise in the hours and days following a treatment. This means the therapy has alleviated blocked points or areas of pressure in your body.

The surge in energy that the massage sessions produce is different from the somewhat frenetic energy that surrounds daily life. It’s a kind of energy that makes you feel more awake and alive. You may notice that you’re less tired during the day, feeling more motivated to go out for a walk, or just sensing a little extra spring in your step.

6. You’re Less Stressed Out

Myofascial release therapy alleviates and depressurizes tense areas in the body that unconsciously keep you feeling stressed or on edge. As it begins to relieve these blockages in your body, we are less affected by and better equipped to manage the stressful aspects of our lives. The stress won’t disappear, but if you find yourself feeling less bogged down by it, the therapy is working for you.

What are your experiences with therapeutic massage? Have you experienced relief from stress or pain? Share your thoughts by commenting below!