10 years of Fascia, fascia, fascia

I find it difficult to believe, but in May 2022 it will have been 10 years since I first trained with Ruth Duncan of Myofascial Release (MFR) UK.  I really can’t believe it is that long; as it feels both a short moment since then and also a lifetime (in a good way).

I completed my Sports & Remedial Massage Training in 2010 and had found a place to work in Islington (now Clerkenwell) in October.  So I was finally doing a job that I loved, and I still do.  Something that I knew I needed to do was Continuing Professional Development (CPD).  I spent the first year reading, reading and reading around the subject and whilst I was also only required to complete two days of CPD each year, I logged about 10 days.

One of those books I had devoured was recommended by a dear friend and was called “Anatomy Trains”.  This book described these amazing lines throughout spread through the body, connecting different bits up.  This was my introduction to the concept of Fascia, and I really felt drawn to it.  I needed to know more.  Whilst I could spend my whole time reading, and I will buy book after book after book (yes, I’m a book-a-holic); I knew I needed to add new training courses to my skills.  So I went to CAMExpo, which was a trade show for Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM) practitioners that had a range of exhibitors and workshops you could attend.


There were a couple of demonstrations happening, and a number of training schools had stands there too.  One of the demos was run by Ruth and Linda of MFR UK and it was about Sinusitis and fascia.  As someone who has suffered from sinus pain this caught my attention.  The people I was sat next to weren’t really that helpful and from my memory didn’t really want to be there, but something about the workshop really intrigued me and Ruth and Linda seemed knowledgeable.

I went and found the MFR stand, and was met by a friendly group of Scottish women who were just full of fun and boundless energy.  I took the leaflet and went in search of other schools that taught about the Fascia. One stand was really dry and dull, the other had blaring music and people seemed to be overly cheerleaderlike and that was a real put off for me.

I ambled back round to the MFR stand and watched.  Ruth and Linda were happily chatting with people as they came up, and there was a lovely feel to their interactions.  I watched many existing students who were greeted with big smiles and it was like watching a nice family meeting up and having a natter.  It was a genuinely warm and welcoming place.  So I signed up for the next courses in London in May 2012.  Those were two courses so four days all told, with a further course in the following October.




Those first courses

I can only remember a few things about that first course: the room we were in at International Student House; watching the video presentation about what fascia is; seeing an exerpt of Jean Claude Guimberteau’s video “Strolling under the skin” (and the Blue Danube Waltz immediately brings it to mind); and being introduced to the first techniques of MFR.  I suddenly realised that this approach was very different to the stuff I’d read before. This was going to be a very new way of working.

I do also remember that I had my first experience of a spontaneous movement (sometimes referred to as an unwind) when I was performing a leg pull on someone who suddenly starting moving around on the table (and ended up in a shoulder stand on the massage couch). I think it was the first big spontaneous movement on the course, happening on the first morning, and everyone turning to stare at what was going on.  I was like a rabbit in the head lights, and at the same time thinking both “Whoa, what the f**k is happening?!” and “That’s so cool!” But Linda was there helping and guiding me, and I’m forever grateful for that support.  It was both shocking and exciting.  It took me a few more years before I was able to take my breaks off and experience that first hand.

I know I learnt a lot of amazing things that first week of learning, and had a new client walk in who had randomly booked in with me but had been searching for an MFR practitioner! It was like the universe was telling me I was on the right track.  I initially did four days of training, before a couple of months break before the third part of the Certificate of Integrated Myofascial Therapy. I’m glad I took the break as I do remember that my brain was blown away with all the new stuff we had to learn and the very different approach.  Wonderful!

But I was hooked on learning about this Fascia stuff.


BFS, Diploma and more

So that was the start of my fascination about fascia: I’d become a Fascianista. 

I went to the first British Fascia Symposium (BFS) in 2014 and realised that there were many more wonderful people in the Fascia community with many different opinions and on the most part we can talk about things and work our way through.  I got to hear Robert Schleip and Leon Chaitow speak, two greats within the Fascia Research community.  And to have tasters in many other approaches.  I have also attended subsequent BFS and each time renewed my feeling of community.

In 2014, Ruth created the Advanced Clinical Diploma in Integrated Myofasical Therapy.  By that time I had done most of the courses so just had to do the two new courses on Rehab and Fascial Assessment and Integration.  And the paperwork and questions and coursework.  I then spent 9 months working on the all the coursework pieces including case studies, reflective assignments before taking the assessment at the start of October 2015.  I passed with Distinction. Two weeks later I started my two year Yoga Teacher Trainging course, and I have no idea what I would have done if I had failed.

It was during this time I started helping Ruth and Linda on their stall at CAMexpo.  I actually ended up being the poster boy for the CAMExpo (quite a surprise and I still love the photo, it’s the one below with a short haired, and beardless me).  I was then delighted when Ruth asked if I wanted to assist at their courses.

Glamourous Assistant

I was very nervous when I started being a Table Assistant for Ruth, as suddenly I was helping my peers in learning about these techniques: checking and correcting hand placement or suggesting ways they could improve their stance or posture. I felt like I was still such a newbie that how could I tell others what to do.  But, to be completely honest: I loved it.  I got a real thrill is seeing the “Ah Ha!” moment in someone’s eyes, which I’d helpd get to.  Still,  underneath it all I felt a fraud, I’d only been doing this for a handful of years. And there are times when I still get this feeling.

But the real, unexpected bonus on helping on the courses was that I got to listen to Ruth and Linda repeat the initial lecture, which was constantly being updated with the latest research and informed with the latest informsion they had learned.  This is something that has always impressed me about Ruth and Linda, they have not settled on their laurels.  Each year there was more information, new information that they had learned and needed to include and share.  Sometimes it was that I picked up on something else.  They were always suggesting research or subjects to follow up on, with the aim of making their students (and me) better therapists.

I can now see that repeating a course is not a cop out or lazy, as a good course is constantly evolving and growing. I am so grateful to Ruth and Linda that they put the work in in keeping their courses relevant and up to date.

I have also been able to grow and develop myself, and at Ruth’s sugggestion I completed an Award in Education and Training.  This was the introduction to knowing about teaching styles and approaches to suit different learning methods.  And in March I co-presented a webinar on Top Tips for TMJ with Ruth and Linda.  I was terrified on letteing her down, but realised just before that Ruth wouldn’t have asked me if she didn’t think I could deliver.  I hope I did her proud.

To Glasgow and beyond

The fascial journey I have been on has taken me well beyond London.  MFR UK is based in Glasgow, and I’ve been very lucky that Ruth and Linda frequently come down to London.  However, I have made the return trip a few times for some courses that they were running in Edinburgh, including ones hosting Carol M Davis and also Steven Goldstein, a couple of MFR Me (where the focus is on what we want as therapists and group treatments) and the MFR for Pelvic Floor just before the pandemic hit.  In March 2022 I also visited them for the Scottish Massage Therapy Organisation (SMTO) conference.

I have also been able to attend a cadaver dissection, which was a real experience and I learnt so much about the strucures of the body and the continuities that the anatomy books clean away for clarity.

Go West!!!! To the USA

But the biggest and furtherst my MFR journey was abroad to Sedona, Arizona in 2017 and then to Cape Cod in 2019 to learn from John F Barnes. I took three courses initially (MFR 1, Unwinding, MFR 2).

John F Barnes is a Physical Therapist (a PT, which is the US equivalent to a Physiotherapist) and is the main proponent of the sustained, indirect Myofascial Release that I had learned from Ruth.  Ruth had originally trained with John, completing all of his courses and had been a table assistant on some of his courses before setting up MFR UK.

Sedona was a magical place and that trip was quite the experience: it was the first time I had been in a room with 150 other therapists all learning the same thing (and it showed me what the Table Assistants really needed to do) and the Americans are really open to experiencing things and they respond strongly to the group energy.  When a group of therapists work together there is a group energy that develops and it allowed me to really grow as a therapist and an individual.  The physical location is also just out of this world and I would love to visit again. It is also where I grew my beard, as I was sharing a room and couldn’t be bothered to shave.  I’ve really grown to like it and find pictures of me without it very strange.



I returned to the US in September 2019, this time in Cape Cod.  I went to attend three more John F Barnes courses: Cervico-Thoracic, Rebounding and Fascial Cranium.  I was there with three wonderful people and we had the most amazing experience there.    Again, I was able to learn not just new techniques but also to learn more about myself as a person.


I also had the chance to brush shoulders with giants of the Fasica community at the Fascial Research Congress in Berlin, November 2018. 

This was an intense few days, listening to Robert Schliep, Carlo Stecco, Jaap Van de Waal, Mark Driscoll, and more talk about their latest research.  It made me aware of the amount of scientific research that is being undertaken in the Fasical world was such a privilege.  Not all of it was directly applicable in clinic, but it kept me totally engaged and made me realise just how much scientific research is happening and the names to follow.  I hope to attend another soon.

I also had another great honour in 2019, when at the cadaver dissection to rub shoulders with the Fascial World giants of Japp Van der Waal, Jean-Claude Gimberteau, Neil Thiese, Carol Davis, Joanne Avison, John Sharkey and others.  It happened to be my birthday and they, along with the others on the course, and the whole hotel bar we were having a social in, sang “Happy Birthday” to me!!!!

I will always treasure having that experience: Jean-Claude Gimberteau sang “Happy Birthday” to me…! and Neil Thiese…! and Carol Davis…!


The Pandemic then hit and things have changed, as they always do.   Courses and learning moved online, and I undertook the SMFR Therapy course so I can help people with their Self Care.

Where will my journey take me now?  I don’t have specifics, but it will be interesting.

I really hope to develop my teaching skills.  Whilst I was really nervous about the webinar, I ultimately enjoyed running it with Ruth and Linda.  So there may be more opportunities for something like that.  I know that there will be more Table Assiting on MFR UK courses. 

But I will see what opportunities arise, and there are a bewildering array of choices ahead of me and I plan on enjoying them as much as I can.  Now, time to win the lottery to be able to accomplish all of that.

So that is a summary of the last 10 years of my Myofascial  journey and I really have been so fortunate to have some amazing experiences and opportunities. Here’s to many many more.

Thanks for reading this, my lovely Interonauts.



As you may know, I love taking photos, so here are a few more of the people I have met on my journey.  There are so many wonderful people I have met that I know this is not everybody and it is just a snapshot.  Thank you to everyone who has been a part of my journey.