Positional release began in the 1950’s when Dr. Lawrence Jones discovered by accident that when he placed the body into a specific comfortable position, pain and dysfunction would heal quickly and completely. He initially called this approach to pain ‘Spontaneous Release by Positioning’ and later ‘Strain-Counterstrain’. Eventually variations of his work became known collectively as ‘Positional Release.’
There are differences in the application of positional release among osteopaths, physical therapists and massage therapists. Practitioners have developed their own versions and have different variations on the name of the work.
The value and importance of positional release methods lies in their non-invasive nature, their ease of application, and their potential for instant response in cases of acute spasm and pain. They are amongst the simplest soft tissue techniques to learn and the most useful to practice.
The practitioner uses movement and gentle compression to find positions of comfort to activate the nerve reflexes which allow the body to change the stress and pain patterns which are causing discomfort.
Once these areas of pain have been located, the body is placed into a comfortable position which reduces the discomfort by disengaging from restrictions. This resets the sensors in the musculature and joints known collectively as the proprioceptors. With the appropriate stimulus to these sensors, the musculoskeletal system returns to a healthier state, eliminating pain and allowing joints to move more freely.
Palpated sensitive points are used to monitor and guide the tissue towards ease, via feedback from the patient. As the reported pain level reduces (from a starting point of ‘10’ to ‘3’ or less), the tissues being palpated are felt to become slacker and less tense. The ease position is then held with no force for 90 seconds or so, before being gently released. This position of comfort can be held for approximately 2 to 3 minutes depending on the nature of the dysfunction.
Most dysfunctions of the patient can be treated in just 3 to 5 half hour sessions, and the patients remain fully clothed during the procedure. If soreness is experienced afterwards, it is a natural part of the healing process caused by the manipulation of the muscle tissue and reorganization of soft tissue that occurred during the treatment.
Positional release technique is often used as part of integrated therapeutic interventions that employ other soft tissue and joint normalization procedures. It has been successfully used in treating acute injuries like whiplash, chronic conditions like headaches, back pain and stress or problems associated with postural or structural imbalances. It is especially beneficial for those diagnosed with fibromyalgia who are unable to tolerate traditional massage techniques due to pain associated with touch. It is an excellent way to release hyper-sensitive tissue easily and spontaneously.