The fascia therapy method
Fascias: The little known tissues
The fascia did not interest biology until very recently. Officially, the first anatomic description of these tissues dates back to the 1930s in France, but generally, it is the American biochemist Ida Rolf who is credited with having been the first to study their properties, especially their “plastic” aspect, around the same time (which could retain impressions). This research moreover, would lead her to come up with the Rolfing technique. The fascia, along with the tendons and ligaments constitute part of what we generally refer to as the conjunctive tissue. Collagen, a complex protein, is largely made up of these tissues and in its healthy state, has a gelatinous consistency. The fascia which are found directly under the skin are called “superficial”. When they are healthy, they are loose and the skin can easily slide to the side, except in some places like the palm and the arches of the foot. Then there are the medium and deep fascia which are more leathery and dense; the diaphragm for example, is a fascia. Also, each fascia, or rather each “portion” of the fascia has a specific name and in some cases, biology prefers the term aponeurose. As for the term “myofascial” specifically used in English, it covers the collective fascia/muscle.
Fascia: tissues which can suffer
While the fascia can get dangerously affected by necrotizing fasciitis (an infection caused by flesh eating bacteria), the more usual problems are less dangerous and generally of the chronic type, like plantar fasciitis. It refers to tension and hardening or when the fascia lose their viscosity, “adherence”; in this case, muscles or groups of muscles cannot slide easily over each other (an adherence resembles a scar, also made of conjunctive tissue). These problems emerge as a result of stress, bad postural habits, traumas (physical or psychological) or even old age.
Fascia that has lost its property can give rise to different problems like pain, spasms or chronic muscular tension, a disturbance of muscle metabolism, a joint problem, bad lymph circulation, or even a n imbalance in body alignment – problems which are themselves responsible for certain consequences like digestive troubles, neuralgias, respiratory problems or general fatigue. According to Philip E. Greenman, professor of osteopathy at Michigan State University, a small change in myofascia can cause huge physiological stress in other parts of the body. Thus, a joint restriction in one leg can result in a person using 40% more energy to walk and if two joint movements are constrained in the same leg, the effort could go up to 300%.
Fascia therapy and fasciapulsology: extremely gentle approaches
While Rolfing and Hellerwork are very energetic techniques where the practitioner vigorously handles deep fascia, it must be stated that fascia therapy and fasciapulsology are part of the category “gentle techniques”. The first is designed and taught by Danis Bois and the second by Christian Carini. Sadly, the two men, trained physiotherapists, each claim to be the father of the discovery which was made around 1980.
Fascia therapy is a manual therapy which addresses a person in his totality – physically and psychically – and seek s the auto-regulation forces of the body. The therapists place their hands on the body of the subject and “listen” to the natural movement of the fascia – movement which is extremely subtle and can be compared to breathing. From the information gleaned from the superficial fascia, an evaluation of the vitality of the tissues can be made and blocks which are contained within can be determined. Given the network like structure of the fascia, this touch sensitive nature is trusted to detect trauma throughout the fascial system, to the zones where the fingers cannot reach.
Therapeutic intervention is as sensitive as the manner of diagnosis: with very light pressure, the therapist simply seeks to re-establish the natural movement of the fascia, which allow auto-recovery forces to be re-activated. In the fascia network, a tension in the region of the heart for example, can cause back pain or digestive problems. For a long lasting solution to a problem, even one that is periodic, it is necessary therefore to re- establish equilibrium of the entire body. The observation and study of this life in the body offers an access to the deeper reasons for illness and a new definition of overall health.
Theory and observation reveal that these therapies treat the following conditions: Musculo-skeletal troubles like sprains, tendinitis, sciatica, etc.
Many functional problems (without organic lesion) like migraine, tinnitus, constipation, fibromyalgia, etc.
Problems related to obesity and childbirth like lower back pain (lumbago) etc.
Fascia therapies are the most “gentle” of approaches that treat the fascia and more. One can feel a real change during or after the very first session. The patient lies down down while the therapist gently glides over the skin with the tips of his fingers, without notable pressure, concentrating on one region for some time before moving over the entire body.A session varies between 30 minutes and an hour, but can go on for longer too. How many sessions are required?
For acute pain like a sprain, a few sessions are required.
For chronic problems, a number of fortnightly sessions are required.
When body pain is accompanied by postural troubles or problems of coordination, there are certain exercises that need to accompany the treatment which will be taught by me.