This is a review of the current literature into fascia treatment and my hypothesis about what is physiologically happening in the human body with fascia treatment and specifically using the FasicaBlaster® product.
What Happens Physiologically When Using the FasciaBlaster®:
– Fascia is considered plastic, meaning the ability to change or be manipulated. This is due to many factors:
- Piezioelectric Effect: Piezo (pressure) electricity; connective tissue is seen to behave like a liquid thus cells that produce collagen (fibroblast, fibroclasts) will respond to the electric charges.
– When pressure is applied outside the body (via the FasciaBlaster® treatment), a higher electric charge is produced inside the cell and two things happen:
- Fibroblasts- increase collagen production
- Fibroclasts- don’t break down fibers that are electrically “charged”
– Manual pressure causes an increased collagen production, while decreasing collagen turnover (breakdown).
– While this is proven to occur more information is need to understand the plasticity of tissue changes, specifically in one treatment session.
- Nervous system: without proper neural connections, the tissue is unable to respond as if under normal conditions.
- The brain is seen more as a liquid system in which fluid and gas dynamics of neurotransmitters have been more closely studied.
- Transmissions of impulses in our nervous system occur via neurotransmitters that travel along neural pathways, blood, lymph, cerebral spinal fluid (CSF), and ground substance.
- Body regulation inseparably connected with nervous, endocrine, and immune systems.
– Muscular system is largest sensory organ: CNS receives the greatest amount of sensory nerves from myofascial tissue.
– Typical muscle nerve (tibial nerve) consists of almost 3x more sensory than motor fibers. Sensory = more important than motor fibers.
Of the sensory neurons:
– only 20% are Type I or II muscle fibers.
– the majority are III and IV afferent sensory nerve fibers aka interstitial muscle receptors – which exist abundantly in the fascia.
Remember: muscles are never activated as a whole. Motor units are activated and can be individually regulated (activated/deactivated) depending on the sensory feedback.(1)
Mechanoreceptors: sensory nerve endings that respond to mechanical tension and/or pressure.
– This is what the FasciaBlaster® stimulates. Stimulation causes changes globally in the entire body via connection to the CNS and ANS via the hypothalamus.
Measurements of mechanoreceptors at the knee joint ligaments have shown:
- Stimulation causes weak effects in alpha motor neurons, strong effects in gamma motor neurons.
- Alpha and gamma motor system are usually coactivated.
- Differences between:
- Alpha system originates in the cortex, involved in volitional and precise movements of the extremities.
- Gamma system originates in the brain stem, involved in more global and unconscious postural organization of anti-gravity extensor muscles.
- Stimulation of fascia mechanoreceptors leads to changes in gamma motor tone.
- This means that the ligamentous mechanoreceptors provide a proprioceptive feedback for preparatory regulation (preprogramming) of muscle tonus around the joint. (Johansson et. All 1991). It can be inferred that this can cause changes to the structure i.e. SAID principle and Wolf’s Law.
What Does This All Mean?
The FasciaBlaster® has an impact on mechanoreceptors found in connective tissue. When using the FasciaBlaster®, you are stimulating the mechanoreceptors in the various soft tissue structures. Stimulating these mechanoreceptors has global effects due to the connection to hypothalamus and its resulting release of neurotransmitters.
– Myofascial manipulation stimulates mostly the interstitial-fascial (Type III & IV) mechanoreceptors. This leads to an altered proprioceptive input to the CNS, which results in changed tonus regulation of the motor units associated with this tissue due to changes in gamma motor tone.
– Ruffini organs (Type II) & interstitial fascial receptors effect the ANS. Stimulating can result in lowering sympathetic tone, or changes in local vasodilation (increased blood flow). This is done due to the known presence of fascial smooth muscle cells (2,9,10).
Effects of fascial work: This table describes the effects on the mechanoreceptors from fascial manipulation.
The FasciaBlaster® stimulates the body’s natural inflammation and thus, the healing process. Over time the body compensates based on movement patterns, injury history, current physical demands, and much more. Fascial adhesions develop because the body is trying to make itself a stable and functional unit. Over time pain and dysfunction develop.
A study by a German surgeon looking at the fascial adhesions described the adhesions as “an increased amount and thickness of collagen fibers in the tissue”. This causes a decrease in nerve conduction, blood flow and function of the tissue because the vessels are being strangled. By using the FasciaBlaster® on the tissue, the fibers are broken down and the restrictions are loosened. Blood flow and connective tissue cells then come in and repair the damage done by the fascial adhesions. This is the acute inflammation stage. After 24-72 hours the inflammation ceases and this is when the activation of the muscle is important. By activating the tissue, the neural connection is improving and the body decides to increase the strength of the tissue if stimulated enough.