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Community Highlights: Meet Shannon Whitall of San Diego Myofascial Release

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shannon Whitall.

Hi Shannon, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I have a passion for helping people. Especially helping those who are in pain. I used to do therapeutic deep-tissue massage. For thirteen years, I used my skills as a massage therapist to help others. But towards the end of that thirteen years, I began to grow more and more frustrated at the lack of real results. What I was beginning to you realize was that, after someone would receive their massage, they would have about how much better they felt right afterwards. Which you think would be a good thing, right? But then what would happen is after about an hour or so later, all their pain and discomfort would usually come right back. This was beyond frustrating to me. Once I found the courage to be honest with myself, I began asking myself “why” all this hard work anger expertise I was putting into my clients wasn’t pricing as beneficial as I believed it should be. “Why” weren’t the results lasting longer? “Why” weren’t these people getting better? I thought to myself, “There has to be something else… Something better… Something that provides REAL HEALING. But what?” I considered going back to school to become a Physical Therapist. But wasn’t willing to take the risk of investing so much time and money to learn something that I didn’t know if it was going to be any better or healing of a therapy than what I was currently doing. So I decided to wait and explore a little more. Not long after that, I received a brochure in the mail with information about the John F. Barnes Myofascial Release Approach. I read through it, and something about it resonated with me. I was really intrigued. I felt like God dropped this in my lap and said, “You’re welcome”, haha!

So I signed up for an introductory series (three seminars, back-to-back). When I arrived, I immediately began to second guess my choice… As It was nothing like what I expected it to be. In fact, truth be told, it was downright weird! But I decided to see it through, and once I got over the intitial shock of it all, I was astounded at the level of authentic HEALING I was witnessing happen! Through this work, I was seeing people have trauma release, emotional releases, pain eliminated, and function/mobility restored in just a short amount of time. It was incredible! And the most fascinating thing about it was, this work did not use any force; no deep strokes or forceful movements/techniques. It was all very gentle and extremely slow and patient. I was perplexed at how something so gentle could have any effect whatsoever. But what I was witnessing was undeniable. This Myofascial Release Approach was treating the WHOLE person, not just one aspect of the person (skeletal; muscular; emotional; spiritual; mental; etc.). I learned that the fascia in our bodies had such a greater role to play than I ever imagined it did. I came to understand that the fascia completely encompasses and surrounds every single cell in the body; that it stores trauma, emotions and memories; that its job is to tighten down and stabilize us as it gets us through a crisis. But that it’s not designed to stay tightened down. That is supposed to be a temporary thing. But because people don’t typically take the time after a crisis, injury or trauma, to really go through the necessary and natural practice of processing through what just happened; attending to/acknowledging our pain; taking the time to care for and nurture our bodies and our minds back to health… instead, we choose to go with the “faster/easier” method of popping a pain pill or all the other quick fixes we can think of. But without proper treatment, the fascia stays locked down. And as the years go by, it tightens down more and more, like a vice. Pretty soon, it becomes so tight, it creates an invisible straightjacket that can immobilize us or crush us from the inside out. This happens slowly, over time. No amount of muscle relaxers or rolfing; foam rolling; massage; stretching; core strengthening; etc. is going to make it let go. The only way to get it to let go is with gentleness, patience and time. When people finally come to realize that there is no “quick fix” for what they have, they begin to become more open-minded. At that point, the body and the mind are in a prime position to begin working together. And that’s exciting because that’s where real healing and change can begin! And that’s usually the point when those people find and seek out “Myofascial Release”!

All’s to say that once I wrapped up this introductory Myofascial Release seminar, I had a decision to make. I just felt that, in good conscience, there was no way I could return back to my business and my clients and continue doing massage… Not when I had something SO much better to give them. I mean, they could get a massage on any corner, but Myofascial Release was hard to come by. So I made the not-so-hard decision to go back and tell all my clients that I would no longer be doing massage. I told them that if they ever trusted me, that they would try this therapy a couple of times and that if they didn’t see the difference for themselves, I would happily refer them to another massage therapist. In the end, I lost about three or four clients, but all the right ones started coming as word started to spread. And the rest is history! We are now the busiest and most sought-after Myofascial Release clinic in San Diego! This has truly been a remarkable and amazing journey that God had set me on. Eight years and many more hours of study under John Barnes himself, I feel so honored to be a part of something incredible; a therapy that really does heal people on so many levels. The results are real and long-lasting; the testimonials are mind-blowing; the word is spreading like wildfire. It’s such an exciting path to be on!

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I think our biggest struggle is explaining with words what Myofascial Release is. Sometimes it’s easier to say what it’s now: “It’s not a massage. It’s not a facial”. But then they ask, “Well, what is it then?” To which I reply, “How much time do you have?” Haha! The truth is, the only way to really understand it is to experience it. Once someone has experienced it, I love to then challenge them to go home and explain what just happened to their friends and family. They always laugh because they now know, first hand, how difficult a take that will be, especially if they don’t want to come across sounding crazy.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
San Diego Myofascial Release has a solid history of providing San Diego with superior professional service and the highest quality therapy. Every soul that walks through our door is treated as a unique individual. We don’t believe in a “one-size fits all” approach when it comes to your health. SDMFR exclusively practices the John F Barnes Myofascial Release Approach®. We treat our clients with a “whole-body approach”, rather than just treating the symptoms. The JFB Myofascial Release Approach is the ultimate mind/body therapy that is safe, gentle and consistently effective in producing results that last.

Located in the charming La Mesa Village West in downtown La Mesa, San Diego MFR is a peaceful, centrally located San Diego retreat, providing an escape from the stresses of everyday life and an opportunity to return to a pain-free, active lifestyle!

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