For the last six months, I’ve been doing a new home therapy designed to break down and allow new healthy fascia to form and I’m happy to report I’m more than impressed with the results. I have seen a great deal of relief from symptoms that stem from my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome as well as my Fibromyalgia and POTS. I would recommend this treatment for anyone looking for relief and/or improvement in any of the following categories:
- Circulation and blood flow
- Joint stability
- Nerve conduction
- Cognitive function
- Ability to build muscle
- Hair Growth
- Muscle and joint pain
- Headaches & migraine symptoms
- Tremors and yips
- Dependence on muscle relaxers and pain reliever
- Numbness in extremities
- Dizziness and POTS symptoms
- Brain Fog
What is Fascia?
Fascia is a type of fibrous connective tissue that is dense and firm. It lays beneath the skin, binds the muscle together into bundles and connects it with other connective tissue such as tendons and ligaments, and wraps the organs. In essence, it is the glue that holds the soft tissue of our bodies together and connects it to our bones. In Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, fascia is often dysfunctional, overgrowing and at the same time constricting the muscle. Often, it begins to strangle the muscle and nerve fibers within, causing oxygen deprivation and poor circulation, and an inability for the muscle to function properly. The muscle begins to malfunction in this restrictive cage. Literally starved for energy, the muscle atrophies and begins to spasm and twitch. Soon, even the gentlest of pressure becomes unbearable.
When those constricting cages of fascia are connected to joints, they can pull on tendons and ligaments, impeding the proper function of the joint itself. This increases instability of the joint, greatly increasing the changes of a subluxation or dislocation of the joint along with a possible tear.
For fibromyalgia sufferers, this study suggests a strong connection between fascia and the neurological problems associated with Fibromyalgia: Fascial Plasticity – A New Neurobiological Explanation. Dr. Schierling, a leading expert in the study and treatment of fascia through chiropracty shares this philosophy and does an exceptional job of discussing the issues of fascia and chronic pain syndromes. I highly recommend this article to expand your understanding of this topic. Sine it’s so well covered, I won’t be taking a lot of time to discuss it here, but I do strongly encourage interested parties to take a deep dive into Schierling’s work, as he is simply brilliant and you will learn a great deal from him.
Why Fascia Therapy Helps
Fascia therapy seeks to break down this overgrowth of fascia, freeing up the muscles and allowing them and all corresponding connective and nerve tissue to heal and function properly. Once the muscles are freed from this constricting cage, muscle pain is eased, nerves heal and begin to receive signals properly, corresponding connective tissue and joints function properly, restoring balance and coordination. According to a recent article put out by Dr. Schierling, fascia itself is actually partly responsible for proprioception, so healthy fascia is especially important in this aspect.
A Proven Device Used for Fascia Therapy
The device I use was recommended by another woman with EDS in a holistic EDS treatment group I belong to and those of us in the group who have been doing these treatments religiously have all reported positive strides in our progress.
Trials were recently completed on the device and while the full findings have yet to be published, some preliminary findings have been released. The article provides some great details about how it changes the biology and aids the body after just 90 days of use. It can be found here. This article, The Science of the Fasciablaster Revolution, provides a detailed accounting of the many ways fascia work is known to effect the body.
The device, called a FasciaBlaster, is marketed primarily to rid yourself of cellulite and let me tell you, it works for that, too. That’s because cellulite is created by dysfunctional fascia and if you have EDS, you may have more than your fair share, like me. The dimples and lumps that make up cellulite are the skin being pulled unnaturally by these bundles of fascia, almost like stitches gathered in cloth. Before I began my treatments, my thighs and bottom were mottled like cottage cheese, but it’s getting a whole lot better using the FasciaBlaster. I can hardly believe I almost have smoother legs than I had when I was a teenager!
Of course cellulite isn’t the reason I’m using it, but it’s a nice bonus. Another bonus is that you can actually sculpt your body with it by targeting specific areas and utilizing the fat lysing technique (contracting the muscles during treatments), once your fascia have been properly prepped after several blasting sessions. The inventor, a sports medicine guru named Ashley Black has videos that will show you how if you’re interested. Be aware that this will NOT break up fascia, as the muscles must be relaxed during treatment for the effective breakdown of fascia and of course this is what will give you the most needed health benefits. Still, if you seek to lose weight and are having the same difficulties I am, you may want to consider adding fat lysing to your therapy once your fascia are in decent shape. I myself have just begun these treatments and they’re going quite well.
is also essential to the kind of work you will likely be doing and I highly recommend you purchase both. If you are on a fixed budget and can only buy one, consider what your biggest problem areas are. If you’re looking to work on your head, hands, neck, and arms the Mini 2 is the one for you. If the trunk of your body and thighs seems more important, start with the full sized unit first.
I started with the full sized unit and bought the Mini 2 a few months later, but once I got my hands on the Mini I knew it was a mistake to start with only the full sized unit. I get so much relief from doing my hands, head and neck and it wasn’t until then that I could stop my full-time use of anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers and tramadol. Of course the real show-stopper in this arena is the faceblaster. Nothing beats it for fine-boned features and areas without much padding, such as the skull. And yes, it does seem to be helping my migraines as well as my tension headaches, perhaps because it’s helping my circulatory and neurological systems as a whole.
To get started, here are the 29 fascia blasting zones along with the basic do’s and don’ts and a full body tutorial where Ashley Black tells you how to do your treatments. Below are a few personalized tips for zebras and spoonies I have compiled from my own personal experience:
- If at first you don’t have the strength to do it on your own, have someone do it for you. My husband still helps me with hard to reach areas. Do what you can, though. It can provide a good work out for little used muscles and will help you build a little strength. I started my treatments while I was still bedbound.
- Your first treatments will release a lot of fascia, which naturally means your body will have to rid itself of a lot of toxins. Limit these treatments by going fast, but applying only light pressure and only doing your body in sections. Then give your body ample time to heal. Watch your weight. It will go up because of inflammation from the treatment and back down once you have healed. I cannot stress enough to go light, especially if you have EDS, as bruising and reactions can be pretty heavy in our population!
- Avoid subluxations and other injuries by allowing someone to help you with hard to reach areas or try modifying your full-size blaster using 1 in 90 electrical conduction pipes (found at your local hardware store for around $2)
- If you have issues with grip, the Mini2 may be a better option for you and always treat your hands and wrists at the end of your other treatments to relieve them of pain. I’ve found with the FaceBlaster, I suffer almost no hand pain or numbness anymore. My hands were one of my most painful body parts. Even my tremors and yips are greatly improved.
- Be sure your skin is well oiled. I use unrefined coconut oil in excess so my skin can’t soak it all up. You can also order oil from the site, but Coconut oil is my preference since it’s healthy, natural and my skin is super-sensitive.
- Rub hard enough to be effective, but don’t hurt yourself. Ashley Black says you should never experience pain over a 7, but for us it should be more like a 3 or 4 with only occasional spikes of higher pain. As people who suffer chronic pain, our pain meters may be a bit off, so don’t go crazy and adjust down a little. If you can feel the pop of the fascia releasing under your skin, you’re pressing hard enough.
- If you don’t have the energy for a warm up and/or you’re heat sensitive, try a heating pad for a few minutes prior to treatment or do it as part of your bath if you can. If you’re so heat intolerant you can’t even bear a heating pad, go without. When starting out, I just laid under my comforter for a while to warm up and I made good progress. After a few months, though heating became essential to move my progress forward and my heat intolerance had improved enough that I could handle the heating pad and by 7 months I could do a hot shower.
- Conserve your energy. Work one area of your body a day or every couple of days. For example, I do my calves one day, my thighs 2 days after, my stomach 2 days after that and so on. Sometimes I have to take a few days in between because I just don’t have the energy. Don’t feel bad about it. It’s a journey and you’re not going to win the war against your fascia in one day or even one month. Frankly, it’s a maintenance thing and we have to be in it for the long haul. Dysfunctional connective tissue means dysfunctional fascia. It’s always going to be a problem.
- Never work an area of your body that’s still sorely bruised (and if you’re doing it right, you will bruise in most areas to start!
- If working on a particular issue, be sure to look for advice and tutorials among Ashley Black’s vast collection. Doing only the affected area is rarely enough, due to the interconnected nature of fascia; it’s one giant network throughout the body (see my fasciablasting resources, linked below).
- Blasting your head can sometimes produce a sensation of nausea, especially if you have a lot of fascial adhesions. This passes quickly when you stop blasting. Try moving to another portion of the head to quell the feeling and then going back, working a little at a time as you can tolerate it. As the fascia uncoil and improve, you’ll no longer experience this sensation.
- Never fasciablast your carotid artery. This could be fatal.
- Always drink lots of water to help release toxins after blasting.
- Take occasional breaks to allow your body to heal and rest, but not too long. You don’t want to delay your progress!
- Do use your fasciablaster on your tender points. It will hurt like hell, but you will find that they become less and less tender and some will even disappear. Most of these tender points are likely fascial adhesions that need to be worked out.
- Concentrate on sore spots and muscles that cramp frequently when blasting. This tends to indicate fascia bundles that are particularly resistant and the poke and wiggle technique helps to alleviate cramping and break them up (that’s what the pointy ends of the Mini 2 are for). You can even feel lumpy adhesions shaped like balls and ridges once you begin to break through areas that are beyond bound.
- Be stringent in your practice to begin. Once you’ve established a routine, you’ll find that returning aches and how much better you feel from regular treatments will naturally keep you diligent about your practice.
- Read through Ashley Black’s blogs including how to’s, warnings, advice, etc to ensure you use it safely and effectively and consider joining a group of other people with your same condition so you have support and can ask questions.
- To help with post-blasting pain, use ice or an ice bath the day of along with some arnica or another topical analgesic alike biofreeze. A day or two later, you can soak in a tub of hot water with some epsom salts, which can help reduce bruising some.
- Protect your joints by strengthening your muscles. Sometimes as we loosen fascia we see fewer subluxations and dislocations. Some of us see more. This all depends on the strength of your muscles and their ability to support your hypermobile joints. See my article on EDS and exercise for some tips.
If you decide to take on this therapy, please contact me and let me know how it’s going. I’m excited to hear from you!
UPDATE: After speaking with several people regarding this post on Facebook and Twitter, I made some changes to this blog post to more accurately reflect the full changes I’ve seen. I will continue to do so as I make new discoveries. I also want to be clear that I use the FasciaBlaster in conjunction with other therapies that also help my conditions. However, using the FasciaBlaster has definitely given my health a big boost in these areas and correlated directly with my regular use of the device because they happened with the use of the device alone. Also, when my practice dropped off for a few weeks, so did my health! If you are in a position that prevents you from being able to use the FasciaBlaster, take a look at the list of supplements I have provided on “What got ME out of bed” for a few ideas on how to take your first steps toward wellness.
For more information, tips, and resources, check out these articles on FasciaBlasting:
- Chronic Migraine in EDS
- FasciaBlaster Resources – Help and Support
- FaceBlaster now available!
- Fasciablaster’s Fab Little Sister; The FaceBlaster
- Moving into Maintenance Phase