If you have pain in your neck, shoulders, back, or traps, use these techniques to loosen up the fascial recoil that’s causing pain and restriction!
About fascia blasting technique:
Dimples: They’re endearing on kids, but not quite as cute on my thighs. Yes, like 99.9 percent of the female population, I’m the proud owner of a whole mess of cellulite. And while it doesn’t bother me all that much, I don’t necessarily love it. So when I heard about a weird wellness trick invented by Ashley Black to smooth my problem areas, I thought, Why not give it a whirl?
Enter fascia blasting: the completely unexpected, all-natural solution to cellulite that also reduces muscle soreness and improves circulation. After personally blasting for a year (infomercial alert), I can honestly say it works. Here are all the details.
What is fascia and why does it need blasting? Simply put, fascia is fiberous connective tissue that is comprised of collagen and protects your organs and muscles. (Come to think of it, it’s kind of like the inner layer of a banana peel.) Fascia supports our musculoskeletal system so we can perform activities like walking, running and sitting at a desk for eight-plus hours.
If your fascia isn’t functioning properly, it can weaken blood flow to muscles, impede flexibility (no matter how many yoga classes you endure), and cause cellulite. And you guessed it: Cellulite is actually the external result of distorted fascia.
How do you use a fascia blaster? Before you roll that spikey motions for one to three minutes per area. You can work up to three to five minutes per zone, but overzealous blasters, beware. Applying too much pressure can result in some pretty funny-looking bruises. After you’re finished, drink lots of water and massage the areas you went over.
What does it feel like? The sensation is similar to foam rolling…if your roller had weird prongs. Fascia blasting can be slightly painful if your fascia isn’t in great shape, so be sure to start out light-handed. You can gradually apply more pressure as your fascia health improves.
How frequently should you use it? It really depends on your level of comfort, but if you want to see results, use it regularly. I try to fascia blast two to three times a week to allow for some recovery time between sessions. One major drawback: Bruises are common, and your skin can become inflamed and painful if you fascia blast too vigorously. If you experience this, allow your body time to heal and go easier next time. Consider rubbing on Arnica (an herbal gel that treats bruising), but discontinue use and see your doctor if the bruises remain or get worse.
little wand anywhere, you’ll need to warm up your muscles with a hot shower, a bath, a heating pad, a sauna or some exercise. Next, apply lotion or oil to the targeted area, then gently run the fascia blaster (use Black’s version, $69, or a budget version, $20) over your skin in up-and-down or side-to-side.
Are fascia treatments proven?
Myers’ approach to treating fascial restrictions evolved from the work of Ida Rolf, a pioneering female scientist in the 1920s who developed a method of treating fascia called Structural Integration (commonly referred to today as Rolfing.) According to the official Rolfing website, the method works “to release, realign and balance the whole body, thus potentially resolving discomfort, reducing compensations and alleviating pain.” Myers claims that this type of treatment, performed over a number of sessions, improves the movement between layers of fascia surrounding structures including tendons, nerves, muscle and ligaments.
Prevent back pain like a pro athlete
Physical therapist Valerie McGraw, who has worked closely for 28 years with John Barnes, the creator of the Myofascial Release Approach (MFR), supports the concept of modifying the fluid component of fascia. According to the official MFR website, “Myofascial Release is a safe and very effective hands-on technique that involves applying gentle sustained pressure into the Myofascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion.”
McGraw describes improvements in the fascial fluid as one of the benefits of their manual technique that differs from others, she says, in that it reaches deeper into the tissue and manually engages it for three to five minutes or more before moving on, rather than sliding on the surface like other forms of bodywork. In a way, it is similar to yoga in that the pressure in a specific region is held for longer, just like yoga poses can be held for longer periods instead of the rapid movement of weight lifting or running.
McGraw also explained that myofascial release practitioners incorporate numerous treatment methods including elongation stretching, a form of cupping (using a sustained pull for three to five minutes or more), and self-treatment utilizing simple pressure tools such as a small air-filled ball and a foam roller into their treatment plans.
Though manual therapies like Myofascial Release and Rolfing are probably not modifying the length of the fibrous component of the fascia, they might be affecting the flexibility of fascia, which could provide the purported beneficial effects. In fact, a very small 2017 study in healthy men using dynamic ultrasound imaging found that myofascial release decreased the stiffness of the fascia in the lower back, and another study found 20% greater stiffness of the lower back fascia in subjects with chronic lower back pain. Another study evaluated two sessions of fascial manipulation added to standard care after hip surgery and found a modest improvement in the flexibility in the hip joint. There are other case reports of the benefits of various fascial treatment methods, but overall evidence of the effectiveness of treatment is limited.
Another major issue with putting so much emphasis on fascia and how to treat it effectively is that it is highly unlikely that fascia ever works or can be treated in isolation from other tissues. Muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves play an essential and more clearly established role in many chronic pain conditions. The complex interaction and interconnection of all the tissues involved presents a significant challenge to defining and isolating the relevance of fascia.
What’s the bottom line? If a bodywork practitioner or specialized tool claims to be treating your fascia to relieve your chronic pain (or help you get rid of cellulite), you may indeed get the hoped-for results, but it’s a lot more complicated than just fixing the fascia.