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The temporomandibular joint

Myofascial Release and Myofascial Unwinding are, in my opinion, the most profound forms of healing you will ever experience yourself or be able to provide to clients.

 For this reason, I think you might be interested in a true story from one of my Myofascial Release seminars.

“I am going to demonstrate a temporomandibular technique now,” I said to the group. “Would anyone like to come up on the stage to help?”

A young woman with dark hair, who I will call Barbara, stepped up to the stage and lay down on the treatment table to be a model for the technique. I evaluated her jaw and found her mandibular motion to be restricted. I placed my hands lightly on her head and centered myself. Her head, neck and jaw began to release and move, or unwind. I could feel the energy between the two of us building as her body arched and she began to let out some noise. The condyles of her temporomandibular joint clicked back into place and she released and softened. As I helped her sit up, I asked the audience if they had any questions or comments for her.

One attendee asked her to describe what she felt while on the table.

“I have attended several of John’s courses, and never allowed myself the opportunity to be a treatment demonstration,” Barbara responded. “This time, I decided I really needed to experience his touch, and asked him to treat my TMJ. I am grateful. I tend to be rather introverted; not shy, but I don’t normally put myself in front of large groups.

“As soon as I lay down on the treatment table and John entered my energy field, I felt a sense of calm,” she continued. “All anxiety I felt about being in front of a large group while being treated was gone. I believe the technique was to evaluate the lateral deviation in my temporomandibular joint and determine which side needed to be moved back to proper alignment.

“[It] sounds very straightforward and technical,” Barbara said. “I have a chiropractor who adjusts my jaw periodically. It takes about 60 seconds, is very mechanical, and [the adjustment] never holds more than 24 hours.

“When John lightly placed his fingers on my jaw, the feeling of safety and calm expanded, and I could feel myself become deeply connected with my spirit,” she continued. “I believe I had two or three freeze-and-thaw responses, because my body began to shake, and then I would get cold.

“John never changed the amount of pressure,” Barbara said. “I then began to sense my consciousness, as if I were reaching deep into my history, and simultaneously recalled numerous experiences that have contributed to my jaw problem—not just [my] auto accident, but other fears and traumas as well. More important, I began to notice my inability to express the fears around the traumas, and my inability to express feelings that surround emotional insecurities and hurts in general.

“I had no specific detailed memory of any particular event, just an acute awareness of a lifelong pattern that has accumulated into a tremendous amount of fear, hurt and pain in my body,” she continued. “I felt completely safe in this experience.

“I have understood the theory of expanded consciousness intellectually for years, and have read extensively on the mind-body connection; but this is the first time I have had such a profound ‘ah ha,’” Barbara said. “While working with me, John maintained light pressure and gently encouraged me to stay with the moment. My body began to unwind. As I moved on the table, my body found positions that triggered an intense need to express myself. I felt myself begin to expel noise from my gut; no, not my gut, but my core being. As noise came out, I could feel my spirit shifting, as if that expanded awareness of every event that contributed to this condition began to reconcile. The awareness became more real, more fluid, and the fears began to resolve, again all simultaneously, as if time had no meaning, and cognitive understanding was not present. [I experienced] just a deep knowing.

“My jaw went pop, pop, pop—back into place,” she added. “The tension in my face and head melted away. I felt as if a vise had been removed from my head for the first time in nearly 15 years.”


John F. Barnes, P.T., L.M.T., N.C.T.M.B., is an international lecturer, author and acknowledged expert in the area of myofascial release. He has instructed more than 100,000 therapists worldwide in his Myofascial Release approach, and he is the author of Myofascial Release: the Search for Excellence (Rehabilitation Services Inc., 1990) and Healing Ancient Wounds: the Renegade’s Wisdom (Myofascial Release Treatment Centers & Seminars, 2000). He is on the counsel of advisors of the American Back Society; he is also a member of the American Physical Therapy Association. For more information, visit www.myofascialrelease.com.

For more information about myofascial release, access two excerpts from the Fireside Chat with John F. Barnes, P.T., DVD on YouTube:

To connect with John Barnes, P.T., L.M.T., N.C.T.M.B., on Facebook, visit www.facebook.com/myofascial.release.

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Belltown Spine & Wellness, an integrated health and spinal rehabilitation center, has helped thousands of people over the past 22 years regain their health and vitality through their natural, integrated approach to health and wellness in the greater Seattle area. Our services, which include chiropractic, spinal rehabilitation, massage therapy, acupuncture, naturopathic medicine and medical weight-loss are customized and targeted for each individual's health goals. Our signature 4-step program is specifically designed to help patients recover from neck and back pain chronic conditions. This system, created by Dr. Scott Mindel, Seattle chiropractor and owner of Belltown Spine & Wellness draws on the latest rehabilitation techniques available today.

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