The body has an amazing capacity for compensation whether it’s been overloaded, injured or put under repeated stress it will do it’s best to keep on going.

Fascial Manipulation is a manual therapy which aims to interpret the compensatory progression from one part of the body to another and is the key to great results in manual therapy.

Clinically I have found the following

May provide long lasting reduction or resolution of physical contributors behind a pain experience.

May enable swifter progression to self management via exercise and movement

 

For me Fascial Manipulation is the newest and most exciting manual therapy technique added to my practice in years and aims to restore the harmony to the body. I first became aware of this method when researching for my co authored book Dry Needling for Manual Therapist in 2010 and due to the overwhelming body of research by the Stecco family embarked on studying this technique first in the UK then to Prague.

 

Fascia manipulation was researched and invented by Italian Physiotherapist Luigi Stecco primarily through treating 100s and 100s of patients and subsequently by his children Dr Carla Stecco, and Antonio Stecco, MDs of Italy. The method has evolved over the last 35 years through intense research by cadaveric dissection, live ultrasound analysis, and clinical observation. Courses are now taught worldwide. Their results are truly remarkable and have a huge amount of research to back up here. For list of articles by Prof. Carla Stecco and Dr. Antonio Stecco see PubMed)

Caral Stecco Orthopedic Surgeon, Professor of Human Anatomy at the University of Padovahas rewritten (The goddess of facial research). Fascia simply makes us look as the body as a whole rewriting traditional anatomy. In fact it has been rewriiten by Carla Stecco.

 

Fascial Manipulation has been successfully used to treat:

Headaches and migraines

Lower back and neck pain

Hip pain

Migraine Headaches

Tension Headaches

Knee pain

Plantar fasciitis

Shoulder pain

Bursitis and tendonitis

Respiratory e.g. coughs, recurrent laryngitis/sore throats & bronchitis

Circulatory e.g. leg/foot cramps and cold hands/feet

Urinary e.g. recurrent cystitis, urinary frequency & recurrent kidney stones

Endocrine e.g. thyroid issues, diaphragm problems, dysmenorrhea & oligospermia

Digestive e.g. reflux, bloating, heartburn and IBS

 

What is fascia ?

In structure, fascia is like candy floss or a knitted sweater; tightly interwoven and web-like. If you picture an orange, it is not that dissimilar to the transparent layer of skin that surrounds each and every segment. It is thin white layer beneath the skin, similar to what you see when you cut up a chicken breast.”

Fascia is an interconnecting network of connective tissue that surrounds muscles, groups of muscles, blood vessels, and nerves, binding and connecting structures together. It is continuous throughout the whole body and is composed of several layers: imagine your whole body “cling-filmed” with several endless sheets of clingfilm It has several functions:

  • It provides a sliding and gliding environment for muscles
  • Suspends and supports organs (heart, kidneys, liver etc) in their proper place
  • Transmits movement from muscles to bones
  • Provides a supportive and movable wrapping for nerves and blood vessels as they pass through and between muscles
  • Provides a communication network for cells throughout the body which is independent of the CNS (central nervous system)

 

Due to trauma or inflammation fascia may shorten and what was previously a pain-free range of motion may become painful and restricted. The normal sliding of the fascia becomes compromised and increases collagen production (scar tissue). Fascial Manipulation technique is a biomechanical system that fully treats abnormal adhesions or “densifications” usually present with orthopaedic conditions. These adhesions often change the direction of the way muscles and tendons pull. The mechanics of joints are then compromised causing recurring pain and/or injury.

This technique allows therapists to work at a distance from the actual site of pain, which is often inflamed. Compensatory tension may also extend along a sequence of muscles and other soft tissues which could be involved in the referral of pain along a limb or to another area of the body.

 

What happens in a treatment

  • Medical history is acquired to treat safely and effectively.
  • Specific movements are preformed to recreate pain in order to help identify the area of dysfunctional fascia
  • Specific points on a few body segments are palpated in order to find densified and painful fascia
  • Once these points are identified, there may be more than one, they are treated with manual therapy
  • Movements preformed at the beginning of treatment will be preformed again to reassess changes made to the fascial system.

 

How long does it take for the procedure to work?

In some cases, decreased pain and improved mobility is immediate. Typically, it may take a few treatment sessions for a lasting positive effect. Again we are trying to cause mechanical, biochemical and neurological changes in the myofascial system without any drugs or surgery. Therefore, we are looking for a cumulative response to resolve myofascial stiffness, restore coordination throughout lines of tension and normalize movement patterns. These changes occur over the course of multiple treatments, typically 6-8 sessions. Once balance is achieved within the myofascial chains, it is easily maintained with intermittent or occasional treatment.

How do I know if I am a candidate?

Pain sufferers should be aware that fascial restrictions do not show up on CAT scans, MRI’s or X-Rays, so many people end up with unresolved physical pain due to undiagnosed fascial trauma. FM, with its whole body approach, treats the cause at the deepest level.  Therapists are taught to feel and stretch slowly into the fascial network.

As fascia is partly made up of collagen (means ‘glue producer’), therapists are taught to feel for this glue-like texture which, when dense, thick or hard, is defined as a ‘fascial densification’.  This ‘densification’ is due to the enzymes (which normally allow the fascia to “glide”) having bonded together and becoming large

How does fascial manipulation differ from a normal therapeutic massage or release of pain?

The FM technique is very different to that of massaging muscles, tendons and the ligaments of the body. To restore fascia to its normal state the ‘densifications’ need to be heated up. This is done by rubbing the tissue in a specific way. As the fascia heats up, it allows the bonded enzymes within the tissue to break down the chemical bonds holding them together and for the enzymes to return to their normal state. This reduction of densifications will restore health and provide results that are both measurable and functional.

Is Fascial Manipulation similar to Myofascial Release or Rolfing?

The only similarity to Myofascial Release is the hands-on method of a manual therapist mobilizing tissue to create a change. Myofascial Release does not involve a consistent treatment strategy and it lacks scientific evidence. It is common for many clinicians to claim expertise with Myofascial Release but the art or method is unique to the practitioner. This lack of consistency often leads to limited outcomes and strong reliance on the provider. Typically, the patient is unaware of the nature or type of problem being treated with Myofascial Release.

Fascial Manipulation is based upon scientific evidence from multiple studies showing inherent connections throughout the myofascial system. These connections allow the muscles and fascia to generate tension and transmit load along three dimensional planes. The primary challenge of this system is maintaining mobility, balance and stability to allow us to be active without pain. The Stecco method of Fascial Manipulation involves a complete and thorough evaluation of the entire myofascial system to identify stiffness and lack of coordination. Fascial manipulation treatments are specifically directed towards areas of stiffness within a dysfunctional line of tension to restore balance and improve activation patterns. Treatment is guided by the client’s symptoms and movement dysfunction to achieve complete balance throughout the myofascial chain which reduces tissue load and restores joint health naturally leading to pain relief and healing.

 

What to expect after treatment?

Redness and tenderness will be felt due to the body’s inflammatory response. Symptoms may worsen after 10 minutes and last for 48 hours. Improvements will ensue over 5 days.

Homecare to assist healing response

Avoid anti-inflammatories for the first 24 hours  after treatment as this will be counteractive to the body’s natural inflammatory response I just stimulated. Try to do the homecare exercises given to you as this will speed up recovery!

 

 

 

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Fascial Manipulation Testimonials

  • “I went to Ben with an old shoulder injury that plays up from time to time, and what with starting to Row regularly it needs to be as well as possible for full maneuverability. After some questioning and muscle manipulation Ben started with a gentle warming massage. He continued with a deep, balancing massage that worked the troubled areas releasing tension and stiffness. I felt very relaxed and safe throughout as the massage worked deeper and in more detail. What I especially liked was the aftercare that identified the muscles that needed strengthening. Ben recommended moves and exercises to work with, empowering me to take control of my body.

    I would wholeheartedly recommend Bens open manner for a professional, honest and balanced massage that as well as aiding in recovery also teaches you how to take control of your body.”

    Victoria
    Youth Worker