We are the society that thinks more is better and “no pain, no gain”. However, pain is a warning system in the body. Deep pressure can be applied without being painful but oo much pressure too soon can lead to guarding by the patient which, even though relaxation or inhibitory techniques are being applied, can make the person tighter as a means of self protection.

Fascia, the primary tissue for most manual techniques responds to “gentle, sustained pressure”, according the John F. Barnes’ Myofascial Release Approach. This allows for the patient to adapt and respond to the pressure for adaptive changes to occur rather than forcing changes on the person which equates to trauma.

One common misconception is that the fascia needs to be stretched. Research by Dr. Robert Schliep states we cannot stretch fascia as it would take almost 1400 pounds of pressure to do so. What we are trying to do is to stretch and break down the small collagen cross-links between the skin and the superficial/deep fascias and the muscle. As the tissues are decompressed, they regain the sliding movements which restore mobility. The decompression also elevates pressure of the peripheral nerves so the brain no longer has sensations it interprets as pain.

For those “deep tissue” therapists that doubt the affects of gentle sustained pressure: