Myofascial Release History

Andrew Taylor Still, M.D.

According to Robert Ward, myofascial release originated from the concept by Andrew Taylor Still, M.D. (1828-1917), the founder of osteopathic medicine in the late 19th century, at which point it was called “fascial twist”. Mr. Ward also suggested that the term “myofascial release” as a technique was coined in 1981 when it was used as a course title at Michigan State University. 2
German physiotherapist Elizabeth Dicke developed connective tissue massage (German: Bindegewebsmassage) in the 1920s, which involved superficial stretching of the myofascia.

 Janet G. Travell, M.D.

However, the term myofascial was first used in medical literature by Janet G. Travell, M.D. in the 1940s in reference to musculoskeletal pain syndromes and trigger points. In 1976, Dr. Travell began using the term “myofascial trigger point” and in 1983 published the reference Myofascial Pain & Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual.

John F. Barnes

Probably the most well-known and leading authority on MFR today is John F. Barnes, PT, who has been an international lecturer, author, and presenter for over 50 years. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1960 with a degree in physical therapy and developed his unique and successful style of myofascia release work over the coming decades. He still maintains treatment centers in Paoli, Pennsylvania, and Sedona, Arizona for those people whose traditional therapies, medicine or surgery have failed. Over 100,000 doctors, physical therapists, massage therapists, and other health professionals have been trained in this work, according to the Barnes MFR website.