MFR For Athletes

Myofascial Release for Athletes: Pain, Prevention, Performance

In sport all the little things add up to affect results. The way you train, what you eat and drink, and the quality of your sleep are all very important.

What if there was an additional tool that you could add to maximise your potential?

The John F. Barnes Myofascial Release Approach, recognised as the leading form of hands-on therapy for soft tissue treatment is highly affective in preventing injury, treating pain and tightness and maximising performance.

Surrounding and infusing every bone, muscle and nerve is the body’s most important system, the fascial system. Muscles (elastin) which make up about 20% of the body’s soft tissue combine with the fascia (predominantly collagen, elastin, ground substance) which is 80% of the body’s soft tissue to form myofascial tissue.

The elastic nature of muscles give the runner the spring in their step, the golfer the torque in their swing and the footballer the length to their kick. On the other hand, the fascia provides the shock absorption to the body. The fascial fibres are predominantly collagen with some elastin and form microtubules filled with the liquid crystalline (ie gel) ground substance.

The length and softness to myofascial tissue is essential in eliminating pain and tightness so that athletes can maximise their unlimited potential:



When an athlete injures their soft tissue, changes occur at the cellular level. The tissue actually change state from a healthy gel-like state to a solid. Solidified tissue can feel different for each athlete – some common explanations are “tight and restricted”, “feels like gravel”, “hard and painful”.

MFR For Athletes
Myofascial Release for Athletes

When the fascia is in its healthy state the bones, muscles and nerves glide freely during physical activity. However, when the tissue is injured through impact or repetitive force the tissue solidifies and can apply crushing pressure on bones, muscles and nerves. In turn, this leads to inflammation and pain and an overall feeling of tightness.



The key to maintaining a long sporting career is minimising injury. One of the best ways to achieve this is by developing an affective stretching routine. Unlike, conventional stretching which involves holding a stretch for around 10-30 seconds, MFR stretching involves holding stretches for around 5 minutes so as to permanently change tight, restricted soft tissue.

The 5 keys to stretching are:

Maintain stretches for 5 minutes. This allows for a permanent change in the soft tissue. Collagen and elastin fibres are proteins and just like an egg (protein) taking around 5 minutes to boil and change from a liquid to a solid, so to in reverse as we take the tissue from a solid to a gel.

Be soft with the stretch. Forcing a stretch can actually lead to micro-tears in the tissue fibres

MFR Stretching
Maintaining stretches for around 5 minutes

Sustained Pressure
The stretch must be maintained. In other words, rubbing, rolling, manipulating the tissue only leads to short term results

Soft tissue holds memory. As such in order to reverse “poor” tissue memory, we need to maintain a soft focus into the areas being stretched so as to allow the body to feel safe and return the tissue to a healthy gel-like state

This is our body’s natural healing mechanism. When tissue becomes injured the fibres actually wind up (think scar tissue, knots, etc). As we maintain a long stretch this gives the body time to unwind this tissue and allow it to soften and return to its normal length



Healthy, fluid fascia and longer muscles are vital to optimal performance.

Regular outcomes from maintaining a routine MFR treatment and stretching program include:

• Increases in Range of Motion
• Flexibility Improvements
• Eliminated Back Pain, Muscle Pain, etc
• Improved posture and running style
• Relaxed Muscles
• Feeling lighter
• Increased Hydration

Imagine the difference in your golf swing with more range through your “core”, the length to your running stride with more flexible hamstrings and the “spring” to your jump with softer calves.

For further information on how the John F. Barnes Myofascial Release Approach can benefit you, contact Sheldon Stackpoole via or alternatively to find a therapist internationally go to

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