Emotions, MFR & Healing Crisis

Issues in the Tissues

As we are aware, our bodies have the capacity to “remember” or “store” emotions or traumas in our cells.  Many people have heard of this, but to understand this fully, we must be aware of many factors.

The link between mind/body awareness and healing is the concept of state-dependent memory, learning and behavior.  A certain smell, taste or sound of a particular piece of music, creates a flashback phenomenon, producing a visual, sensorimotor replay of a past event or important episode in our lives.

All of us have experienced this.

However, most of us have not yet experienced position-dependent memory, learning and behavior… where the structural position of the body in space, is the missing component in the state-dependent theory.

Position-Dependent Memory

Studies have shown that people sustain indelible imprints during periods of trauma that have high levels of emotional content. The body can hold information below the conscious level as a protective mechanism, so these memories tend to become dissociated.

Memories that are state or position-dependent can therefore be retrieved when the person is in a  particular state or position.  While the information is not available in the normal, conscious state, the body’s protective mechanisms keep us away from the position that our mind/body awareness construes as painful or traumatic. (From J.F. Barnes’ “the Body Remembers”)


During these times of trauma or injury, our fascia system stores a “holographic” image of our body’s position, complete with all the fear, anger, sadness, etc. that was present at that time.  Sometimes, our consciousness actually leaves our body if the situation is too traumatic for us to handle as it’s happening (flight and fright response).  That is why the fascia has often been called the “handle of the consciousness”.

These holographic images of every one of our traumas, micro-traumas and injuries are constantly battling the forces of our body’s everyday movement, creating holding or bracing patterns to avoid the original pain, which in turn creates disease and dysfunction. Emotions have often been described as “energy motion”.

Myofascial Release helps us bring our bodies back to those positions in time to allow the emotions to be felt, and then released fully from the body, truly beginning the path to authentic healing.

Since emotions are stored in the fascia, often releasing the fascia physically, can bring up emotions stored in that area from the original trauma(s). If you feel intense emotions during or after your session (or even the next days), we recommend that you continuing reading below to better help you understand your body and the emotions stored there.

What is a Healing Crisis?


A healing crisis is a temporary worsening of symptoms that occurs when the body is going through the process of healing itself.

Since most people base their health on how good they feel, they may think the natural health program they are using is hurting them when a healing crisis takes place. But nothing could be further from the truth. It occurs when the body “retraces” old injuries, wounds, infections or other imbalances from its past.


The symptoms that accompany a healing crisis may include: headache, flushing, bruising, fever, nausea, joint pains, feelings of being spaced out, unusual fatigue, insomnia, sleepiness, congestion, strong emotions, depression, irritability, muscle cramps, aches and pains, constipation, diarrhea, hot/cold flashes, night sweats and many other symptoms which are often cold and/or flu-like. Your symptoms may also mimic the original symptoms you sought treatment for. The symptoms and pain of the healing crisis are often more intense than the disease or illness that is being treated. Remember, it is only temporary. And it is the path to renewed health.


Sometimes this experience can feel just as intense as it did when you had the original injury, illness, or whatever else cause the symptoms. Why does this happen? One reason is that when you increase your awareness, you feel how much pain is actually there. Most of us have tuned out some of the pain. With increased awareness, you are now feeling the pain fully. This increase in signs and symptoms is your body’s way of bringing your awareness to the conditions which you are dealing with every day, a condition you “tune out” and don’t feel.

Another reason a healing crisis occurs is that you were getting into the deeper layers of the restrictions. As you go deeper into the restrictions, you get closer to the most sensitive areas. This is the process we compare to peeling back the layers, like the layers of an onion. As you get into the deeper layers, not only might the symptoms intensify, but other sensations or emotions might also surface.


Typically, the healing crisis lasts 24 – 48 hours after a treatment, but can last longer. At times, it can feel like you are taking two steps forward and one step backwards. Just remember the healing process isn’t a linear one. There will be ups and downs; this is normal.


It can be very scary when your body goes into a healing crisis. Remember John F. Barnes’s style of Myofascial Release is never injurious. Using the self-treatment techniques given to you by your therapist, will help you through the process. A regular self-treatment program, combined with your therapy sessions, will help speed up your healing process.

It also helps to spend some quiet time bringing awareness into your body. Try to sink deeper into whatever feelings come up. Let yourself feel your symptoms fully and get in touch with what lies underneath. Give your body permission to let go of anything no longer serving you, and give yourself permission to do and feel what you need in order to heal.

As you tune in, you may experience memories, emotions, shaking, sweating…the list could go on and on. The key is to let yourself feel without any judgment or holding back. Allowing yourself to feel whatever comes up fully and letting it clear, is the key component to the healing process. Sometimes the purpose of these flare-ups is to help us tap into something – an emotion, a belief, an awareness – that needs to be felt so the restriction can release and healing can occur at a deeper level.


Healing crises are good even though they make you feel bad. They are a sign that the healing process chosen is working by eliminating the body of toxins, impurities and imbalances in the body.

Take your time to feel your way through, but be sure to continue your treatment as soon as you feel ready. The healing crisis lets you know that you are on the right path to renewed health and vigor.


  • Cindy Covell – “A Patient’s Guide to Understanding Myofascial Release”
  • Frances Nicolais, CMT – www.mfrcenter.com
  • Cindy Murdoch – www.undergroundhealth.com