For years, chiropractors have been increasing their ancillary services for soft tissue as a complementary service, and for good reason, patients love it! The days of “stack and crack” seem to have come and gone as chiropractors want a more all-encompassing approach to patient care. Twenty years ago, if someone mentioned fascia, people would look at you like you had three heads, ten years ago you might get an “OK, I will try it,” but now patients are jumping on the fascia bandwagon with zeal. The fascia wave is swelling, and fascia is quickly becoming a household word. Patients, if they aren’t already, are going to be asking about fascia treatments and FOR them!
Let’s take a look at what fascia is, increasing interest in the topic, and tools for treatment.
Picking Up Speed
According to Google, interest in fascia (“interest” is a statistic Google uses) has continued to increase at whopping rates and has more than doubled since prior to 2015. Fascia is making headlines when just a few short years ago no one was even talking about it. Since 2017, NBC’s TODAY show featured fascia in a double segment and received an endorsement from their medical contributor, a #1 best-selling book about fascia hit the scene, and the first TED talk about fascia was delivered. Ready or not, here mainstream fascia comes!
What Is Fascia?
All chiropractors know that fascia is the connective tissue that separates and penetrates many of our body parts such as the muscles, organs, and joints. Because it runs in long strips and connects inter-structurally, fascia is a big part of what pulls joints out of alignment from the ankle joint, to rotated hips, and to forward neck. Chiropractors have plenty of experience with fascial adhesions and the role they play in all types of limited ROM or sticking structures together, like ribs to scapulas. But fascia is beginning to get recognized in a more significant way: as a fluid system, part of the endocrine system, as a communication system, and for its role as a system itself.
In fact, current research and older research being revisited and reimagined are no longer in the realm of unscientific “New Age” theory or even isolated to Alternative Care. Clinical studies are being designed and performed by teams of researchers from all realms of medicine and are being peer reviewed and published in medical journals. The role of fascia dysfunction is being linked to numerous disease states and physical ailments. Tissue that is chronically inflamed begins to morph—the current term of choice is “densified”. Densification can affect all soft tissue, including fascia, tendons, and ligaments. Densification can also affect lymphatic flow because it is made up of superficial fascia right below the skin.
Because fascia is everywhere, it affects everything! Some researchers are now attributing fascia dysfunction as the root of all sickness and disease. Only time and more research will continue to write the history of fascia. For now, it’s safe to say that healthy fascia is being recognized as important to overall health, including the spine.
Fascia Tools for Treatments
The good news is that patients who are becoming educated about fascia are looking for practitioners to treat them, and chiropractors are a likely choice because of their reputation for “outside of the box” thinking and hands-on approach. As the demand for fascia treatments increases, so does the supply of fascia treatment tools. Treatment tools are great for chiropractic practices for many reasons, including saving the hands and thumbs of the practitioners, allowing chiropractic practices to bill for treatments with a tech or LMT, and having better patient outcomes and compliance to name a few. As the “demand” rises, chiropractors have a great opportunity to provide the “supply”; it’s really a win for both the patient and the doctor.
Cupping, Tape, & Foam Rollers
Speaking of supply, we are seeing an increase in fascia-related products on the market. Over the past few years, cupping has gained acceptance for increasing blood flow. Perhaps even more importantly, cups pull the fascia up into the cup, causing a nice sustained stretch. Excellent brands of tape have emerged to address fascia imbalances. Foam rollers are virtually in every rehabilitative location and gym; however, rolling devices are more for muscles (but that’s for another blog). There has also been a rise in certifications for manual fascia treatments.
One treatment method that really stands out as a fascia treatment tool is a complement of handheld tools that are manually scrubbed across the skin briskly, eventually penetrating deeper and deeper as the tissue allows. These “FasciaBlasting” tools got their notoriety for their success with cellulite, but they were originally designed and manufactured for fascia care. The tools were part of a multi-million dollar research project at The Applied Science Performance Institute in Tampa, Florida led by Dr. Jacob Wilson, who has published over 500 articles. The FasciaBlaster tools seem to be the first fascia tools to show evidence in ultrasound imaging and blood analysis of the potential ability to remodel fascia or “un-densify” it.
The findings of the study were peer reviewed and published in Cogent Medical Journal, leaving skeptics a little speechless. All practitioners are looking for evidence based treatments. It’s very exciting to have the findings for fascia remodeling validated with ultrasound imaging and an increase of PICP collagen markers in the blood.
These tools open up a new world for chiropractors, giving them the ability to use the tools as part of their treatment as well as sell them to their patients. The FasciaBlaster tools are so easy to use that their success started with self-treatment. The opportunity to use the tools and continue self-care at home in between appointments will help with patient compliance and enhance the lives of patients and providers.
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