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Myofascial Release: The Pain Solution

Click here to listen: Myofascial Release: The Pain Solution

Welcome, everyone to this presentation on Myofascial Release: The Pain Solution. I will be presenting for the first half of tonight’s presentation on the anatomy and a discussion on the fascia. Then, for the second half of tonight’s presentation, I’m going to turn the presentation over to Lisa Buerk who is our Discover Health Movement Membership Self-Myofascial Release Instructor. She’s going to be focusing on the lumbar spine and how you can do self-myofascial release for the lumbar spine.

Welcome, everyone to this presentation on Myofascial Release: The Pain Solution. I will be presenting for the first half of tonight’s presentation on the anatomy and a discussion on the fascia. Then, for the second half of tonight’s presentation, I’m going to turn the presentation over to Lisa Buerk who is our Discover Health Movement Membership Self-Myofascial Release Instructor. She’s going to be focusing on the lumbar spine and how you can do self-myofascial release for the lumbar spine.

First of all, this very first slide for our title slide of Myofascial Release: The Pain Solution, what you see in the image is a spider web. Now, there are so many different analogies related to the fascia. The fascia is a fabric. I call it the “fabric of life.” You also can call it the “web of life.” And so, it connects everything. It connects every single thing in your body to the next thing in your body. It is a three-dimensional system that we’ll be talking about in detail tonight. If you think about it, any kind of fabric has threads. So, you’re looking at the threads of a web, a network.

The other thing I’ll point out about the spider web you’re looking at is the fact that you see water droplets on all of the different fibers of the thread. This is going to be really important to understanding how to keep your fascial system, your connective tissue system, ultimately healthy.


Now, the other thing I want to emphasize with this portion of the presentation and right off the bat, folks, is your myofascial system is the master designer of our structure. You see, when we are in utero and we are just an egg and we get fertilized and we start to develop as the fetus, we start out developing three primary layers. They’re called the endoderm, the mesoderm, and the ectoderm. Different parts of us come about from these different layers of the developing fetus. What I want you to understand is that when we develop what are called limb buds, meaning when we start to develop our extremities, the first thing that buds off the torso, if you will, or the egg itself or the developing fetus, is called a limb bud. That comes from the mesoderm. The mesoderm is the middle layer that develops guess what? Your connective tissue system, your fascia. And so, this limb bud, if you will, becomes the master designer. It becomes the bag or the fabric upon which all of our parts start to develop into the master designing limb bud. So, the bones, the muscles, the nerves, the blood vessels follow the fascia and start to fill in the bag. The web of life is the fascia.

Now, myofascial release is the technique that I have been doing my entire career and it’s when a medical provider or a health provider lays their hands on your connective tissue, on your body, and evaluates it for symmetry, for balance, for restrictive tissue versus loose tissue. Myofascial release is a system of diagnosis and treatment that was first described by Andrew Taylor Still, who was the founder of Osteopathic Medicine which is the type of provider I am, an Osteopathic Medical Doctor.

Now, when using this treatment modality, a medical provider engages continual palpatory feedback to achieve release of the myofascial restrictions. Again, we lay our hands and we evaluate the tissues. The tissues may have a direction of ease and can have a direction of restriction like where the knots of the tightness are, the tissue doesn’t want to move as easily. And so, I as the provider or whoever you tend to go to if they know how to do myofascial release, you can do either direct myofascial release or indirect myofascial release, where you engage the tissue and you either go into the most restricted area and into the knots and into the tension and engage a tension into the tissue. The tissue’s alive so it’s going to respond to that and try and unwind. You can also do myofascial release in an indirect technique where you take the tissues away from the restrictive barrier more in the direction of ease and the same thing in the end outcome should apply in the essence of unwinding restrictions and bringing balance back into the fabric, back into the bag, back into the master designer of the body.

Now, I’ve been studying fascia and connective tissue my entire career. That’s over twenty years. I know it is the main answer to people’s pain, meaning I have studied the bones and I’ve studied the joints, but if you really want to move those bones and you want to move those joints and you want to bring balance into the structure and you want to optimize blood flow and you want to optimize neurological communication and decrease someone’s pain – the answer is in the fascia. Most people don’t know this.

What I will also tell you is that the fascial system is the least studied system of the body. The very first international conference, or congress they called it, where all the scientists of the world that study the fascia came together to share with each other what we know…how long ago do you think that happened? It happened in 2007! Folks, that’s only thirteen years ago. The fascial system is a very young system as far as us understanding it.

Now, you can come to someone like me and I can do myofascial release for you and you can pay me the bucks it takes to do that, for sure! Sometimes you’re always going to need a provider because you can’t do everything for yourself, but I will tell you that the second half of tonight’s presentation is so important because Lisa is going to show you that you can have this tool in your own toolbox and you can learn how to do self-myofascial release. Again, I’m going to get into some more discussion of the anatomy of the fascia.

At the end of my presentation, I’m going to share a video with you by Tom Myers. Tom Myers is a Rolfer or now they call themselves structural integrators. He’s a very famous one. He’s written a book by the name of Anatomy Trains. He’s been instructing in structural integration and teaching about the fascia for over thirty years. He has a Google Talk, obviously perfectly free and available to anyone on Google. You go to YouTube and you can search “Tom Myers Google Talk on Fascia.” Also, we’re going to put it in the chat box for you. If you want to listen to his entire presentation after tonight’s done, you can go to that link and watch his entire talk. I am, at the end of my presentation tonight, going to share a three-minute clip with you of a video he shares on that talk that shows you some actual true fascial anatomy.

Then when I’m done, I’m going to turn the presentation, as I said, over to Lisa, and she’s going to present to you some self-myofascial release for the lumbar spine. Before I keep going, let me just now introduce Lisa and give you some of her background so you have a sense of who’s going to be presenting for the second half of tonight. When I’m done, we can just transition right in to having Lisa present. Let me read Lisa’s bio.

Lisa Buerk, who is a RAD Mobility and Recovery Specialist and a Registered Yoga Teacher, grew up in South Florida and was a children’s dance teacher before becoming a flight attendant. She has lived in New York, California, and finally (to our luck) has landed in New Hampshire.

Lisa has been studying the human body and how we move for more than 25 years. She completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training at Dragonfly Yoga Barn in 2015 and is currently pursuing her Yoga Medicine therapeutic specialist certification with Tiffany Cruikshank. Through this program, she was introduced to Myofascial Release and completed her initial 55-hours of Myofascial Release training. Completing this training and incorporating these techniques into her yoga classes inspired her to obtain her Mobility and Recovery Specialist certification with RAD.

Other certifications and trainings include more than 40-hours of anatomy and physiology training through the South Bay Massage College, Bernie Clark’s Yin Teacher Training, and Pilates Mat certification. Lisa is excited to share her self-myofascial release techniques to help you increase mobility, help with pain management, and enhance recovery from injury.

Now, your body has three holistic systems that go into every nook and cranny of your body. If you were able to isolate each of these systems and display these three-dimensional systems, they would look just like the body it was taken from. Now, you’re seeing an image of an orange or a grapefruit and you’re seeing all of the white stuff under the skin. That’s fascia, folks. As you see, the white fabric gets thinner and separates the orange into its sections. Like when you peel the orange and your friend or somebody asks you, “Can I have a section of your orange?” You’re able to peel it apart and say, “Yeah, here! Here’s a section of my orange.” That’s fascia that sections off those pieces. If you also look closely at this image, you will see that the pulp is contained in smaller bags, little tiny bags, within each section of the orange. Then down the middle of the orange in the center you see more fascia surrounding, if you will, the spine of the orange in the center. Folks, an orange is a wonderful example of the fascial system being a holistic system.

Now, the three holistic systems in the human body consist of the nervous system…and the nervous system is an intricate network of nerves and cells that convey messages in the forms of electrochemical impulses between parts of the body. It is what coordinates everyday activities such as walking, eating, and dancing, and it regulates body processes such as breathing and digestion. The existence of the nervous system was conceived and demonstrated a long time ago in the third century B.C. That’s the first holistic system of the body.

The second holistic system of the body is your vascular system. The vascular system consists of veins and arteries that transport blood to and from every single nook and cranny of your body delivering oxygen and nutrients and removing harmful waste matter such as carbon dioxide. The function of the heart and circulation of blood was discovered and first accurately published in the sixteenth century. Yes, I did say the sixteenth century. Hundreds of years ago!

Now, the third holistic system of the body is the fascial system. The fascia is the connective tissue, the fabric of life. It surrounds every single blood vessel, every organ, every muscle, and every nerve. It encompasses even the first two holistic systems that we’ve just gone over. Just like any fabric, the fascia has threads that runs through it and therefore it looks like a matrix or, as we saw on our first image tonight in our introduction, a spider web, particularly on a microscopic level. The fascia is alive, and the tendrils or threads of the fascial fabric move if they are well hydrated. If they’re dried up or become dehydrated from lack of movement, then the fabric of life that surrounds everything in your body will start to restrict blood flow, affect your neurological ability to communicate, and your organs won’t work well because the fabric of the bag they’re contained in is too tight.

Let’s get into what the anatomy of the fascia really is. The big thing to realize is that we have layers of fascia. These different layers should be well hydrated, again, and they should slide on each other. The tissue needs to be lubricated well. As you see on this slide here, there are different layers. The superficial fascia, that’s the first type you see, lies directly under the dermis of the skin. This fascia also is very fatty. It stores fat and water and creates passageways for nerves and vessels. You know, when you pinch your belly, if you will, and you pinch the skin and you can pinch an inch or whatever you can pinch. That is the skin and the superficial fascia below it that has the adipose or fatty cells and tissue in it. This is also called the hypodermis, and it is made of very loose connective tissue.

Deeper than that is the deep fascia. The deep fascia is formed by a connective membrane that sheaths the muscles like Saran wrap. It aids in muscle movements, provides passageways for nerves and blood vessels, provides muscle attachment sites, and cushions muscle layers. This fascial layer is made of dense connective tissue.

And another type of fascia is called the subserous fascia. The subserous fascia separates the deep fascia from the membranes that line the cavities of our body, the thoracic and abdominal cavities of the body, for example. The loose connection between these layers allow for flexibility and movement of the internal organs. This is also a dense connective tissue.

Let’s get into the detail now. Look a little bit more microscopically at the fascia and the cells of the connective tissue. First of all, the most important cell of the connective tissue is called the fibroblast. You can see it named there and can see a black line going out to point at one of the purple circles in this web. Those purple circles are cells. They’re fibroblast cells. These are the least specialized of all the cells. They are mainly responsible for secreting the non-rigid cellular matrix of the fascia including the fibers of collagen. So, if you look at the slide again, you’ll see dark pink or red thick tubules running through the slide and the web and they’re the collagen fibers. The thinner parts of the web that are dark purple are elastin fibers. The fibroblasts are what put out the material to create these different fibers of the web of life.

What you don’t see in this image are the adipocytes, which are fat storing cells. You also don’t see in this diagram macrophages, mast cells, and plasma cells. These are all cells that are in the connective tissue that are part of your immune system cells. Your immune system is in your connective tissue system.

Beyond all of that, what you’ve got to understand about the fascia is that there is what’s called a ground substance. The ground substance of what’s call the extracellular matrix is an amorphous gelatinous material. It’s gel-like; it’s transparent; it’s colorless; and it fills the spaces between all the fibers and cells. Again, if you look back at the diagram, you’ll see all the light pink spaces between the webbing and between the threads of the fabric. Folks, that’s all gelatinous ground substance. This gelatinous gel-like ground substance consists of large molecules called glycosaminoglycans (don’t try to say that ten times fast). Again, that’s glycosaminoglycans which link together to form very large molecules that are even bigger than them called proteoglycans. The point of this all is that, the ground substance absorbs water like a sponge, such that 90% of the extracellular matrix is made up of water.

So, the fascia is sponge-like, and we’re going to talk about that a little more, but it’s also again a fabric. The point of this slide is to emphasize that the fascial system is truly the fabric of life and made up of its thread, the tendrils of life. If you see in this image you have a muscle, and then you have muscle fibers, then you have blood vessels running between the muscle fibers. The point of this slide is that everything, no matter how small the tissue is, is surrounded by guess what? The fabric of life – fascia.

Here, let’s talk about the consistency of fascia. In this slide, you see on the left an actual sponge that’s taken from the ocean. Sponges are natural things and they’re living organisms in the ocean. You can go down and find them and you’re looking at a sponge from the ocean on the left. Of course, it’s sitting out on a counter and it’s been dried up. So, you see what it looks like and the consistency of a real actual sponge. On the right, you are seeing an image of fascial tissue that has been magnified so that you can see the consistency of it looking very much like the consistency of the sponge.

Folks, what happens when you leave a sponge out on the counter overnight and you go to pick it up the next morning? It’s stiff. It’s tight. It won’t bend. It’s not flexible. It’s not pliable. It’s brittle. It might break or tear. We are just like that. The fascia must be hydrated and moved. The other thing is, when you put a sponge in water what will it do? It will start to suck up that water, the ground substance of your fascia will do the same because remember it is 90% water. The more you squish the sponge and the more you squeeze the sponge and then put it back in the water, what will it do? It will suck up even more water. If you want to hydrate your tissues, if you want to decrease your pain, if you want to age well, if you want your organs and your nervous system and your blood vessels to be able to communicate and be able to transport blood all over your body, you must enhance the health of your fascial system.

Now, I’m going to share this video by Tom Myers. Again, this is by Tom Myers. This is not mine. This is from YouTube. It’s only an excerpt from about a 45-minute talk. We’re going to watch about a two and a half or three-minute portion of it. I’m going to show the video you will be able to see the images, but it doesn’t work well on Zoom (the way we’re doing the presentation webinar) for you to hear Tom’s voice well. What I’m going to do is turn the sound down because I know you won’t be able to hear it. I’m going to explain to you what you’re looking at. Of course, we’re putting in the chat box the link to Tom Myers’ entire talk and by all means, follow that link. We will also put the link tomorrow in our Discover Health Facebook Group for anyone who’s a member of our Discover Health Facebook Group. If you’re not already a member, then just go to Facebook. Go to our Discover Health Functional Medicine Center Facebook page and just request to become a member of our group. Let’s show you this because this is an amazing video…

To watch the video excerpt with Dr. Trish’s commentary, please visit our YouTube recording of this webinar: The commentary section begins at approximately  24:50. To watch the full Anatomy Trains video by Tom Myers from Talks at Google, please visit:

At this point, I’m going to turn this over to Lisa.

Hello, everybody! So, Dr. Murray has left this slide up just because I just like the picture of how the fascia looks when it’s hydrated and organized. It has this nice pattern to it; everything is straight, and you can tell it would be easy to move around. Then when we become immobile and we get those fascial adhesions and lack of hydration it gets disorganized and dry and looks all tangled like a tangled mess. It reminds me of when you take the hair out of your comb all tangled up and hard to move it around. I just like that little slide as a visual for what the fascia should look like and what it can look like when we stop moving.

From there, I’ll just talk a little bit about a little deeper looking at the fascia and its role in pain. [click_to_tweet tweet=”The fascia has six times as many nerve endings as any other system in the body except for the skin. So, you can see how it responds to movement and touch” quote=”The fascia has six times as many nerve endings as any other system in the body except for the skin. So, you can see how it responds to movement and touch”] and as well as lack of movement and touch. I want to talk a little bit about some of those nerve endings, the neurons, nociceptors that alert us to potentially damaging stimuli. Studies are showing that there are three times as many nociceptive neurons in the lumbar fascia than in the spinal muscles. So, I think so many people deal with lower back pain. Sometimes it’s very specific to an injury or something that has gone on in the body that causes this pain, but sometimes it’s a little less specific. I also, from personal experience, sometimes we get a diagnosis of something and we carry it with us over the years. I think it’s important sometimes, unless you’re actively being treated by your physician, if you’ve had an injury that you started to immobilize yourself in some way (I’m speaking from experience because I’ve done this). We don’t give our bodies the chance to kind of test it out again in a very safe way. It just becomes more immobile, right? It gets that dried out gnarly look like we looked at in that picture. So, we’re going to look at those fascial connections in the lumbar fascia and working kind of outside in. Not necessarily working on right in the lumbar area but the muscles that have those fascial connections right through the lumbar fascia.

Just a couple interesting statistics, I found them interesting. People with lower back pain tend to have 25% thicker connective tissue in the low back which tends to lead to a 20% less shear strain or less slide and glide. I know if you are a participant in my class I talk about slide and glide a lot. Dr. Murray’s mentioned it. It has to do with the ground substance, the glycosaminoglycans like hyaluronic acid. Lack of use, lack of movement causes a 40% loss of hyaluronic acid which leads to reduced ability to slide and glide of those tissues.

So, with that being said, we’re going to look at the lumbar fascia but it’s connections with the muscles that are around it.

To learn the self-myofascial techniques with Lisa Buerk, please watch and follow along with the video of this webinar uploaded to our YouTube channel: These demonstrations begin approximately 33 minutes into the video.

Hopefully you had some sense of relief or just maybe it might be a slight little noticing difference of how you feel. For me, a lot of times the biggest difference or sensation that I have is just that feeling of fluidness and hydration and just juiciness of the tissues that I’ve worked. So, again, as I started to talk about a little bit when we got on the ground…not just the stretching but also strengthening. Very good idea to also join Discover Health Movement Membership’s yoga class and movement for longevity. All very important modalities, all three, to keep the tissues hydrated, sliding and gliding, taking that nice relaxation of the self-myofascial release but working your body a little bit in those other classes as well just to also have some strength there.  It’s a balance of strength and flexibility that really helps keeping our tissues and our bodies moving fluidly and carrying us through life and being able to recover when we do have setbacks and little injuries and things that come up for us.  I hope you found that small presentation interesting and helpful and like I said, this coming Tuesday’s class I’m going to build from there, connecting those three layers that are connected to the lumbar fascia. Even if this didn’t necessarily give you and real sense of relief in the lumbar spine, it might be another muscle that’s connected there that might be partially contributing to what might be going on if you have that lower back pain. I’ll turn it back over to Dr. Murray. Thank you very much!

Lisa, thank you for that. that was awesome! My body feels loosey-goosey and tingly actually after I was done with that.


I do want to share a couple of last slides to just sum up tonight.

Folks, if you’ve enjoyed tonight and you would like to learn more about the fascia and the anatomy of the fascia, my latest book is entitled No More Band-Aids 2.0: Finding Answers in a Broken Medical System. This is a collaborative book of actually seven different authors in the functional medicine world. My chapter in this book is called, “The Missing Link to Healthy Aging.” It’s about the fascial anatomy. I also challenge you to a 21-day challenge and I give you exercises to do, I talk about diet, and I talk about hydration in order to optimize your fascial system. At the end of that 21-day challenge, if you have found benefit, the next step would be, as Lisa brought up, to absolutely join our Discover Health Movement Membership. To get to that or after tonight if you’re like, Wow! I want to be at Lisa’s class on Tuesday, because she is going to give you much more. She presented and demonstrated in the way she teaches during her Self-Myofascial Release class. The other webinars we’ve done over the last two months have been by the other instructors: Jim Chaput who is our Movement for Longevity teacher, his focus is on balance and strength, and Meghan Vestal who is our Discover Yoga instructor. If you want to learn more and you really should sign up because I’m telling you, if you really want to improve your health, if you want to age with grace, if you want to optimize the function of all the systems of your body, go to Thank you so much for joining us tonight, everyone!


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