Fasciatherapy: what is it and for whom?

Fasciatherapy

Fasciatherapy is one of the most recent manual therapies for the treatment of pain, movement and functional disorders. The novelty of this method is that it offers a “total package”: if necessary, the physical approach to symptoms – both acute and chronic – is accompanied by a psychological approach.

The work focuses on the individual in all of his or her aspects: motor, psychological and behavioral. Fasciatherapy is a gentle, person-centered, non-binding form of treatment. It is practiced by specialized physiotherapists.

What does fascia mean?

Fascia refers to a membrane of connective tissue. Our connective tissue looks like a kind of sticky cotton candy, but it is a very important part of our body: it makes up 98% of our total mass. From head to toe, our “interior” is completely intertwined with it, much like the strands of an orange. It is a network covering all muscles, joints, bones, nerves, blood vessels and organs. It envelops all parts of the body and connects them in a unit. It also allows our organs to interact. Each type of tissue has its own fascia which connects all the layers and structures of our body like movable rubber bands.

Until 1980, it was believed that connective tissue was used only to mechanically support all the elements of our body, to protect them from pressure, to connect to each other, to keep them flexible and to allow them to fit together, move without friction. It was even a disturbing element for anatomists, who had to remove it to fully expose our organs, bones and muscles. Over the past decades, Professor Danis Bois, currently a professor at the University of Porto in Portugal, has revealed that the fascia is much more than a support, a “mechanical oil” and a backfill. He has indeed discovered that it plays a crucial role in the way we function, both physically and psychologically.

Just like the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system, the fascia influences many mechanisms in our body: muscle tension, pattern of movements, blood circulation, hormonal balance. It also plays a role in our thinking and action, our mood and our stress. It therefore occupies a key position in the development of all kinds of disorders and symptoms.

The three types of fascia

There are three layers of fascia: subcutaneous, deep, and internal.

  • The subcutaneous fascia (superficial fascia) holds body fat and water and provides passage for nerves and blood vessels. In some parts of the body, it envelops the muscles that allow our skin to move.
  • The deep fascia allows the passage of nerves and blood vessels, it helps our muscles to move, and in some parts of the body it helps absorb shock and strengthen muscle attachment.
  • The internal fascia fills the spaces between the organs. It allows the movement of our organs and it gives flexibility to our body.

The basic principle of fasciatherapy

Fasciatherapy assumes that connective tissue creates a bond between our body and our mind, as the tension of the fascia is influenced by the autonomic nervous system. The more we are stressed or in psychological difficulty, the greater the pressure on our connective tissue and the less flexible it becomes. In this light, the fascia is the connection between our body and our psyche (our mind). It is an active and reactive elastic network that tries to adapt to the emotional stress that our body must face, but which loses its natural resilience when overloaded.

Mental load influences our fascia, but physical overload also causes our connective tissue to stiffen. And this is precisely the cause of many symptoms like structural blockages in joints or muscles. When the biological, endocrine or neurological system is disrupted by derailments in our body, we no longer function properly. Physically, this is manifested by blood circulation and drainage disorders, by chronic inflammation, by inadequate muscle tone.

Psychologically, this is expressed by a general feeling of discomfort, mood swings and a negative perception, as a result, negative information is sent in all directions – from the brain to the body and from the body to the brain – leading the patient into a noxious spiral.

How does it work?

To release the fields of tension which – consciously or unconsciously – have arisen in our body, the fasciae are stimulated in a gentle and respectful manner. This method of treatment is personal and may consist of manual treatment, exercise therapy, introspection, and possibly therapeutic conversation. For purely physical symptoms, the first two steps are sufficient. For more complex symptoms related to stress or with a psychological link, the other stages are discussed. The aim of the treatment is to make the patients aware of what is happening in their body and to make them discover new possibilities of movement so that they regains their vitality and relaxes. The body’s self-regulatory power is addressed resulting in a new balance.

  • Manual handling

The therapist performs gentle manual actions on specific areas of the body to explore it and feel the tension in the tissues. He or she seeks resistance and releases blockages. By this actions, movement is caused in the tissue. The patients is invited to concentrate on their tensions and on what relaxes them.

  • Exercise therapy

When the blockages in the body have been released, the patient is asked to slowly move their body – sometimes with the help of a foam roller – so that the released structures are reintegrated into the whole. In this way, the patient becomes familiar with this new mobility. Here too, the patient is asked to feel things well so that he or she learns to manage his or her newfound mobility and to maintain better contact with himself or herself. Fasciatherapy not only has a healing effect, but also a formative effect.

  • Introspection and Therapeutic Conversation

Both during and after treatment, the patients; experiences are deepened so that they become aware of the mental influence they can exert on their own body and health. The experiences they have acquired during therapy allow them to discover their imperfections and to motivate themselves to take matters into their own hands.

For which symptoms can you consult a fasciatherapist?

  • back and neck pain
  • muscle and joint disorders
  • osteoarthritis
  • migraine and headache
  • constipation and digestive problems
  • tired
  • sleep disturbances
  • breathing problems
  • chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
  • fibromyalgia
  • reflux and sleep disturbances
  • growth problems
  • anxiety and hyperactivity
  • fear of failure
  • stress prevention
  • fears and concentration problems
  • lack of self-confidence and assertiveness
  • depression and burnout
  • optimization of sports performance
  • pain relief

When the fascia is properly stimulated, this therapy is safe. But there are a number of contraindications such as fever, severe heart failure or inflammation. Those who take blood thinners will also need to talk their therapist first.

Conclusion

Fasciatherapy treats both local and general complaints of a physical and psychological nature. It is practiced using techniques that activate the internal physiological systems of the body. The key words of this total therapy are softness, slowness and precision. The aim is to achieve a complete and lasting healing process in which the patient learns to take control and become as independent as possible from the therapy.

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