Rabbit-Hole Science

by Walt Fritz, PT on November 26, 2017

I originally intended to post these comments to a blog on one of the manual therapy/massage magazines, one giving some pretty special power to one named modality (OK, craniosacral therapy) and its ability to improve a disorder (autism) that effects thousands of people and their families, but I realized that my comments would have sidetracked the conversation too much. So here is what I wanted to wrote:

I have a wish that people publishing studies in scientific journals about specific named modalities, or sub-versions of named modalities, would be required to say, “When we put our hands on someone and did what is described as (MFR, CST, NKT, NMT, or dozens of other acronym modalities), the person improved. This, rather than trying to explain the results from the limited acceptability of one modality’s claims. Myself, when I do what is described as an MFR-style of engagement, people often feel less pain and can move easier. I say it this way vs. spinning a tale about restricted fascia; one that no one outside MFR circles accepts.

On my website I host a Research page. Though I’ve not updated it as well I had in the past, it lists hundreds of studies, may of which are myofascial release-specific. The vast majority of MFR-related published studies are set up in a traditional fashion, wherein MFR is explained in the introduction and nearly always restates the very old and outdated historical narrative when they explain how MFR works and what it effects. For example, in a 2014 study in the journal Indian Journal of Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy titled, “Effectiveness of Myofascial Release in treatment of Plantar Fasciitis: A RCT”, (#77 on my Research page) the following is written:

“Myofascial release is a soft tissue mobilization technique. If the condition is treated in the acute stage, then symptoms will be aggravated. If treated in the chronic stage, the symptoms will alleviate. Myofascial release techniques stem from the foundation that fascia, a connective tissue found throughout the body, reorganizes itself in response to physical stress and thickness along the lines of tension.3 By myofascial release there is a change in the viscosity of the ground substance to a more fluid state which eliminates the fascia’s excessive pressure on the pain sensitive structure and restores proper alignment.4 Hence this technique is proposed to act as a catalyst in the resolution of plantar fasciitis.”

No attempts are made to deconstruct the historical narrative used over the past few decades which has never been shown to be accurate. The curious reader can do their homework to track the two sources referenced in my snippet above, but neither are/were subjected to any peer review and should be taken as nothing but opinion.

Step back from your modality and view it from afar. Are the movements, handholds, and actions that dissimilar than all of the other modalities in use? The biggest differences often lie in the words that come out of our mouths, which were placed in our heads by the people selling us their product. Look at my hands in the photo below. Are they doing things that are that different from what you do, even if you are using a different modality? There is a very good chance that one could list a dozen or more modalities that use handholds remarkably similar to what I am doing below, but most use vastly different tissue or dysfunction-specific stories to explain the results they achieve.

Putting our hands on people is often exceedingly helpful. The trouble comes when we start to explain the “why” from the narrow rabbit-hole science that most modalities use to explain their work, and I include the work I do in this dilemma. If your modality’s proof is not accepted by science outside of the people in your rabbit hole, be suspicious. The MFR narrative I was originally taught, and is still being taught, has nearly no acceptance outside of the MFR community in which it is taught. We can do better. Deconstruct your beliefs and start from scratch.


Walt Fritz, PT


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Podcast from 2017 Canadian Massage Conference

by Walt Fritz, PT on October 13, 2017

I was honored to have been invited to the recent 10th Annual Canadian Massage Conference last month in Burlington, Ontario. After presenting a full-day hands-on workshop and a 3 hour “science” talk, I was asked to share the microphone with James Waslaski. You can listen to our interview on iTunes by following this link.

Walt Fritz, PT

Foundations in Myofascial Release Seminars


An Interview with Myself

October 13, 2017

There is irony in that those who have long-considered themselves therapeutic rebels for bucking conventional beliefs are now old-school, clinging to the past. Everything evolves. -Walt Fritz, PT One wonderful aspect of being an educator in the manual therapy field is that others ask to interview you! Here is an interview I did for Budiman […]

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Walt’s U.K. MFR Teaching Tour (And a Monty Python Geek Moment!)

September 17, 2017

For those of you who may have missed my countless tourist photo posts on Facebook, I was recently in the U.K. to teach two workshops. The classes were 2-day, whole body classes and it was an incredible experience for me to travel and share my views on manual therapy, myofascial release, and plausible narratives of […]

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Pathologizing: Our Words Matter

August 3, 2017

As a physical therapist trained in the early 1980’s, biomechanical explanations for pain and movement disorders were the norm. As I drifted into a myofascial release manual therapy in the early 1990’s, the biomechanical model was reinforced and made more narrow through the beliefs that pain and movement dysfunction stem from issues of fascial tightness/restriction. […]

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Whitney Lowe: Fantasy Physiology and the Post Hoc Fallacy

July 20, 2017

Moving a profession’s knowledge-base forward is not an easy task. As a species I believe we hold fast to what is familiar and to resist change. My colleague, Whitney Lowe, has written an excellent article that addresses these issues and it may not be an easy read. Not that the technical jargon loses you, but […]

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An Interview: Marci Daniels Rosenberg, M.S., CCC-SLP

June 25, 2017

An Interview: Marci Daniels Rosenberg, M.S., CCC-SLP The new series of interviews I’ve posted here have thus far been with individuals involved in manual therapy from the massage/fitness end of the spectrum. For this interview, I wanted to branch into the other world I interact with; that of the voice and swallowing-related dysfunction. I’ve been […]

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Notes from Walt Fritz’s Workshop at the 2017 Voice Foundations Symposium

June 4, 2017

Many thanks to The Voice Foundation for making me feel welcome and inviting me to present my version of myofascial release for vocal dysfunction. I had prepared for my Friday workshop expecting 20-30 participants and, needless to say, I was a bit surprised at the very large turnout. As a result I lacked supplies for […]

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Myofascial release in the head and neck cancer patient

June 2, 2017

“Ignore the claims, as belief that one can somehow selectively target fascia, muscle, or other structure without providing simultaneous stimulation to  all structure is fantasy.” (This post was written over a year ago but remains relevant. The evidence used to validate this work and this continuing education seminar is constantly updated, with the latest version […]

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An Interview: Massage & Fitness Magazine’s Nick Ng

April 28, 2017

I met Nick Ng face-to-face two years ago, though he and I had co-existed on some Facebook groups long before that time. He took my Foundations in Myofascial Release Seminar for Neck, Voice, and Swallowing Disorders class in San Diego and, as I viewed him as decidedly science-literate, I was curious how he would interpret […]

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