Okay blasters and blasters-to-be, I present to you the fascia nerdfest of the century—the science behind the FasciaBlaster®! I’ve wanted to release this blog for a very long time and I’m so honored to have such an amazing team who helped put this together. Contributors to this article are founding members of the Fascia Advancement Institute:
- Kathleen Stross, PT, MS: Cutting-edge Neuroscientist seasoned in neurological and vestibular science communities. She and I worked together nearly 15 years ago and she has weaved the fascia perspective into her work throughout her career. She unequivocally relates fascia as a communication system for the mind/body connections.
- Dr Sweata Chaudri, MD: Board certified plastic surgeon with an acute understanding of fascia from his years of study and experience with it in the beauty industry.
- Bart Jameson, MAT, ATC, LAT, CSCS: Head Researcher with a Masters in Athletic training and a background in Exercise and Sports Medicine; previously employed by NCAA Division I and most recently the NFL for many years.
And of course me, Ashley Black. I conceptualized, engineered, developed, manufactured and distributed the FasciaBlaster® which eradicates cellulite by restoring the fascia. I’ve had 20 years of experience in pioneering techniques to restore the fascia, working with an elite clientele list privately before taking this information publicly.
If you have never heard of fascia before this playlist will give you a quick glance into what fascia is and how it affects us. This video series simply explains some of the various uses of the FasciaBlaster® and the science behind it, and here are a few pictures of what fascia looks like. And if you’re not familiar with the way I define the 4 types of cellulite, it is a good time to familiarize yourself with this easy and innovative approach I developed.
For the first time in history, you don’t need to pay experts or expensive therapists to change your body. Average people can use this simple tool to get results way beyond improved blood flow and removal of cellulite. On behalf of the Advancement of Fascia Institute, we are excited to open your eyes to the possibilities!
It’s abundantly clear that the FasciaBlaster® removes cellulite and enhances physical appearance. (Here is what the FasciaBlaster® does physiologically to the body:
- Physically Changes Fascia: There is an electrical effect on the cells which improves collagen creating an anti-aging effect.
- Improves the Nervous and Muscular Systems: It improves efficiency and communication of the nervous system to the muscles, which is also known as the brain to body connection.
- Improves the Visceral System: Stimulation of the fascial system impacts the visceral system, which is made up of the visceral organs, and improves their function.
- Improves Inflammation: Stimulates the body’s natural inflammation and healing process.
- Improves Biomechanics, Structural System, and Posture
1. Physically Changes Fascia
Fascia is an entire system of the body and it is considered plastic, which means it has the ability be manipulated and permanently changed. Think about this: plastic surgery is not called plastic surgery because they use polymers. It’s called plastic surgery because there is a permanent change to the body. In contrast, muscle is not considered plastic because changes are not permanent. Muscles can stretch, build, and grow but they gravitate towards their original state.
Fascia’s ability to change or be manipulated is due to many factors:
- Piezioelectric Effect: So do you remember 8th grade science? We are electrical beings. The exchange of electrons between cells is what kicks off all other chemical processes of the body. Additionally, when you palpate or apply pressure to a liquid it changes the electrical charge. Connective tissue is seen to behave like a liquid and responds to tactile pressure like FasciaBlaster® treatment and so do the cells that produce collagen (fibroblast, fibroclasts). This concept is really outside the traditional education system’s way of perceiving fascia, because fascia is consistently referred to as ‘connective tissue’. However, if it behaves like a liquid and is filled with liquid, then all the rules change. Here is a video that shows the fascia changing structure and filled with fluid under a 25X microscope. In a nutshell, the Piezioelectric Effect turns back the hands of the clock and makes us look younger!
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, or breakdown. What is so mind blowing about this is that during a FasciaBlaster® treatment collagen is basically being made MORE and broken down LESS. This has a huge impact on many anti-aging factors and we are certainly seeing the effects on the skin in our users. These pictures are so unbelievable that they look like surgical results, but they are 100% from manipulating the fascia with the FasciaBlaster®. These are just the initial case studies, but these users are the living proof of what the research indicates about the electric charge cellular impact on collagen.
While the plasticity of fascia is proven, more information is needed to understand the changes fully. We have just barely begun to scratch the surface and we will be researching fascia manipulation for many years.
2. Improves the Nervous and Muscular Systems
Without proper neural connections, none of the systems of the body operate optimally - particularly the fascia tissue. Blocked or deficient nerve activity is like losing signal on your cell phone. It is imperative that the fascia tissue receives clear communication from the brain. We did an entire radio show about this that you can listen to here. The brain is well-funded and well-studied, whereas fascia is overlooked even though it is intertwined with the nervous system.
Transmissions of impulses in our nervous system occur via neurotransmitters that travel along neural pathways, blood, lymph, cerebral spinal fluid (CSF), and ground substance. This is so important because these systems are housed within the fascia, and if the fascia is restricted because it is tight or adhesed, the highways upon which information travels throughout the body are shut down. Researchers talk about these systems all the time, but fascia is rarely (almost never) even a consideration in the research.
The body regulation is inseparably connected with nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. This is HUGE because it gives fascial consideration to a host of diseases. We at The Fascia Advancement Institute are particularly excited about the data we are receiving from hundreds who have results with auto immune issues, mental clarity, and overall lifestyle improvement by using the FasciaBlaster®. We have an “infant” chart that begins to explain how fascia impacts other systems.
The muscular system is the largest sensory organ. The Central Nervous System (CNS) receives its greatest amount of sensory nerves from myofascial tissue. This means that the fascia is as or MORE important than muscle in sensory input delivery. If the fascia controls the information that can influence the brain, then science needs a full “do-over”. The impact these findings will one day have, once they’re more accepted, is almost inconceivable, even by those of us connecting the dots.
A typical muscle nerve (ex: tibial nerve) consists of almost 3x more sensory fibers than motor fibers. Science previously thought muscle nerves were primarily motor, but now we are learning that they have more of a sensory role than previously thought. Of the sensory neurons only 20% are Type I or II muscle fibers. The majority are type III and IV afferent sensory nerve fibers aka interstitial muscle receptors, which exist abundantly in 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) And yes, for athletes and people who train, a disruption of the fascia can cause an ill training effect, whereas a healthy fascia and signal can increase performance dramatically. We get daily reports of this through our social media from consistent FasciaBlaster® users and even pro sports teams endorse it, and a host of famous athletes and celebrities use it to maximize their performance.
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 Autonomic Nervous System or ANS via the hypothalamus, which is a part of the brain.
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.
Simply put, healthy fascia helps you heal faster. We at the Fascia Advancement Institute feel passionately that fascia care is vital for all injuries, and the FasciaBlaster® is an inexpensive and effective way to self-treat and empower the patient.
Types of Mechanoreceptors in Fascia:
GTO: golgi tendon organ: sensory receptors found in ligaments, joint capsules, and myotendinous junctions (MTJ). For the lay person, we are talking about the tissue and behaviors of the joints.
- Always inhibitory
- Detects tension; triggers relaxation
- Arranged in series with fascial fibers and respond to slow stretch by influencing the alpha motor neurons via the spinal cord to lower their firing rate i.e. to soften related muscle fibers.
- During soft tissue manipulation:
- GTO stimulated = lower firing of alpha motor neurons = decreased tension (tonus) in related tissues (fascia, muscle, ligaments, joint capsule).
- GTO not stimulated during passive stretch however; only stimulated during active contraction. GTO function to provide feedback information about dynamic force changes. Ex: Holding a weight
- GTO receptors are arranged in a series with muscle fibers
- When the muscle and related fascia are passively stretched, this results in elastic elongation of the muscle fibers.
- Less than 10% GTO are within tendons, 90% in MTJ, joint capsules, aponeurosis (fascia), and ligaments.
- The CNS can reset the GTOs; due to balance needed in biped walking (due to gravity). Function as anti-gravity receptors.
- GTO receptors are arranged in a series with muscle fibers
In essence, the GTO stimulation literally “allows” us to function properly and return to normal or “better than normal”.
Soap box warning: you cannot study joints, flexibility, healing, balance or the mind body connection without including fascia.
Pacini corpuscles– respond to rapid changes in pressure and vibrations. Stimulated by high-velocity thrust manipulations and vibrations. The FasciaBlaster® provides both the pressure and vibrations.
- More frequent on tendons, joint capsules, deep spinal ligaments, muscular fascia (antebrachial, crural, abdominal, IT band, plantar/palmar fascia).
Ruffini organs (endings)- do not adapt as quickly, respond to long-term pressure. Activated by slow and deep soft tissue stretching techniques. Extreme ROM
- More frequent on tissues assoc. w/ stretching (outer joint capsule, dura mater, ligaments, deep dorsal hand).
- Especially responsive to lateral stretch
- Stimulation leads to inhibition of sympathetic nervous system activity. Ex: slow deep tissue techniques = relaxation of tissue
– Both are found in all types of dense connective tissue (fascia, tendons, ligaments, aponeurosis, joint capsules).
The Fascia Advancement Institute wants to recognize that this validates the work of John Barns with MFR or MyoFascial release, but only as one option, not the totality of treatment. Our official position is that more research is needed and all types of manual therapies should be blended for the best outcomes.
Interstitial muscle receptors - Type III & IV muscle fiber- 10% myelinated (Type III), 90% unmyelinated (Type IV). Considered slower than type I & II. Most originate in free nerve endings or as mechanoreceptors. Serve multi use function (pain, thermo, chemo) most serve as mechanoreceptors.
Let me just say that this entire next section is to basically say that the FasciaBlaster® can reduce pain. We often talk about releasing the fascia’s grip on a joint, opening nerves and blood and enhancing overall wellbeing with regular use of the FasciaBlaster®. There is a lot more to it, though. Below is the research on intercepting pain and addressing fight or flight. Fight or flight is what puts the body on “lockdown” and causes a lot of our chronic conditions.
- Divided into high and low threshold pressure units.
- The FasciaBlaster® manipulations stimulate both units.
– Since these interstitial tissue receptors function as pain and mechanoreceptors, in the presence of pain their sensitivity changes. Normal physiological pressure changes often lead to strong and chronic firing of these receptors.
– Most sensory input from the myofasical tissue from Type III & IV interstitial receptors.
– These receptors have also been shown to have autonomic functions– stimulation of their sensory endings lead to changes in HR, BP, respiration, etc.
- Type IV receptors tend to increase arterial blood pressure, Type III shows increase and decrease in arterial BP.
– Shows that a major function of the interstitial tissue receptors is to fine tune the nervous system’s regulation of blood flow according to local demands via ANS.
– Stimulating the interstitial mechanoreceptors can trigger an increase in vagal tone (Vagus Nerve- Cranial Nerve X) which leads to a trophotropic tuning of the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is involved in the regulation of endocrine, autonomic and behavioral functions. It does so by releasing neurotransmitters in the body that have effects on the ANS resulting in global neuromuscular, emotional, cortical and endocrinal changes.
3. Improves the Visceral System
Research completed in 1996 by a German anatomy professor found smooth muscle cells embedded within collagen fibers. This is really a “stop the presses” findings for us at the Fascia Advancement Institute. It also explains some of the feedback we are receiving from the users of the FasciaBlaster® about symptom relief of various diseases or conditions which were originally not hypothesized to provide relief. Smooth muscle cells are cells in the body’s organs that were never before seen in connective tissue. He described the fascial network as a “rich intrafascial supply of capillaries, autonomic nerves and sensory nerve endings”. It was concluded that the fascial smooth muscle cells enable the autonomic nervous system to regulate fascial pre-tension independent of the muscular tonus (9,10). That means fascia can communicate with the ANS without the muscles. In other words ... fascia is the boss!
– Compared to striated muscle cells, smooth muscle cells allow a more efficient transformation of chemical energy into mechanical strength.
– Tonus regulation of fascial smooth muscle cells is thought to be controlled via the sympathetic nervous system and become activated with stimulation of the intrafascial mechanoreceptors (2, 8).
What Does This All Mean?
The FasciaBlaster® has an impact on mechanoreceptors (a sense organ or cell that responds to mechanical stimuli such as touch or sound) 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.
Simply put, you are going to feel better at a global level with healthy fascia. It impacts everything!
– 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. Simply put, it makes your body communicate better and makes you stronger.
– 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. Blood flow has HUGE benefits including increased oxygen, nutrients to the cell, beauty implications, a healthy heart and overall better function. The FasciaBlaster® has an immediate impact on this. Here is a video that demonstrates how fascia can impede blood flow – demonstrated on an MLB player.
4. Improves Inflammation
Over time, due to improper movement patterns, injury history, current physical demands, and more, the body compensates in order to function amidst dysfunction. For example, you may have a jammed hip, but your body won’t shut down. It will compensate by creating a subtle dysfunctional movement. When this happens, fascial adhesions develop because the body is trying to stabilize itself. The fascia system is protecting the area of injury or misalignment. Over time pain and dysfunction increases.
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 decreased 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. The FasciaBlaster® stimulates the body’s natural inflammation and thus the healing process.
5. Improves Biomechanics, Structural System, and Posture
Did you know that when you fix your fascia you will not only get rid of cellulite but you can also eradicate 85% percent or more of your physical ailments! When fascia is restored and loose, the structural system operates optimally so that you can move optimally!
Much of the discovery about how fascia impacts biomechanics (the way we move) began with Tom Meyers brilliant dissection of the human body, and tracing the connected lines of structural fascia (one of the 4 types defined in Ashley Black’s model of fascia). These structural fascial lines influence major postural dysfunction and are connected as one big piece to the other types of fascia. The radio show we did called “Body Hacks” addresses how to not jack up these lines of fascia. Our position is that EVERY medical practitioner from every field of medicine should dissect this way, in addition to the traditional way. To omit structural fascia lines from biomechanics or from treatment of disease is simply primitive and to be totally honest…negligent.
Following are the descriptions of the lines of fascia as depicted by Tom Meyers. We validate his discoveries and have experienced that the FasciaBlaster® is most efficient at palpating these lines.
Provides a map of fascial tension in the body and shows patterns of treatment protocols based on movement and the individual.
Superficial back Line (SBL)
Connects the entire posterior surface of the body from the bottom of the foot to the top of the head in 2 pieces: 1) toes to knees; 2) knees to occiput.
1) support body in full extension (except with hamstrings)
2) prevent tendency to curl over into extension
– high proportion of slow twitch
– extra heavy fascial sheets (i.e. Achilles’ tendon)
Movement function: 1) create extension (flexion @ knees, plantar flexion @ ankle)
– Various types of forward bending (flexion &/or rotation/sb) = stretch SBL
– Postural hyperextension= hypertonus or shortened SBL myofascia
Superficial Front Line: (SFL)
Connects the entire anterior surface of the body from the top of the feet to the side of the skull in 2 pieces: 1) toes to pelvis; 2) pelvis to head.
When the hip is extended (i.e. standing upright), it functions as one continuous line of integrated fascia.
1) balance out the SBL
2) provide tensile support from the top to lift body parts which extend forward in gravity (pubis, rib cage, face.)
3) provide postural knee extension (Genu recurvatum)
– Sagital postural balance primarily maintained by relationship between SBL & SFL
– SFL tends to shift down, SBL tends to shift up (pathology develops)
Spiral Line (SL)
Loops around the body in a helix, joining one side of the skull across to the opposite shoulder, and then across the front to the same hip, knee, and foot arch, running up the back of the body to rejoin the fascia on the skull.
- wraps the body in a double spiral that helps maintain balance across all planes
- connects the foot arches with the pelvis
- helps determine knee tracking in walking
– In imbalance, the SL participates in creating, compensating for, and maintaining twists, rotations, and lateral shifts in the body. SL also contributes to other meridians.
Movement function: create and mediate spirals and rotations in the body.
4 distinct myofasical meridians.
- Arm and hand
- Thumb – (DFAL = Deep Front Arm Line)
- Little finger (pinky) – (DBAL = Deep Back Arm Line)
- Dorsal/palmar hand
– More myofascial crossover than legs (due to increase mobility in shoulder)
– Elbow position affects the mid-back
– Shoulder position affects the ribs and neck.
The Functional Lines:
Extensions of the Arm Lines across the surface of the trunk to the contralateral pelvis and leg.
Movement function: power and precision to the movements of the limbs.
Deep Front Line:
– Through the pelvis, DFL has intimate relationship at the hip joint and relates the pulse of breathing and the rhythm of walking to each other
Postural Function: DFL plays a major role in the body’s support:
– lifting the inner arch
– stabilizing each segment of the legs
– supporting the lumbar spine from the front
– stabilizing the chest while allowing the expansion and relaxation of breathing
– balancing the fragile neck and head
Lack of support, balance, and proper tonus of the DFL will produce overall shortening of the body and encourage collapse in the pelvic and spinal cord.
Movement function: No primary movement function. More stability function.
Traverses each side of the body from the medial and lateral midpoint of the foot around the outside of the ankle and up the lateral aspect of the leg and thigh, passing along the trunk in a "basket weave" pattern to the skull near the ear.
Postural function: LL functions posturally to balance front, back, and bilaterally to balance left and right. Also mediates forces among the other superficial lines (SFL, SBL, Arm, Spiral).
Movement Function: Creating lateral bend (lateral flexion of the trunk, abduction at the hip, eversion at the foot), and functions as an adjustable "brake" for lateral and rotational movements of the trunk.
This is the research support which lists the medical and scientific uses for the FasciaBlaster®. We also LOVE to cater to solving real daily issues for beauty, health and rehabilitation. Here are links to our blogs, radio shows, social media and other resources:
- Schleip, Robert. “Fascial Plasticity – a new neurobiological explanation Part 1.” Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 2003. 7(1);11-19 http://www.somatics.de/artikel/for-professionals/2-article/54-fascial-plasticity-a-new-neurobiological-explanation
- Schleip, Robert. “Fascial Plasticity – a new neurobiological explanation Part 2.” Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 2003. 7(1);11-19 http://www.somatics.de/artikel/for-professionals/2-article/54-fascial-plasticity-a-new-neurobiological-explanation
- Johansson H et al. 1991 Receptors in the knee joint ligaments and their role in the biomechanics of the joint. Critical Reviews in Biomedical Engineering 18(5): 341–368
- Cottingham JT 1985 Healing through Touch – A History and a Review of the Physiological Evidence. Rolf Institute Publications, Boulder, CO2
- Kruger L 1987 Cutaneous sensory system. In: Adelman G. (ed.). Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, Vol 1. Birkha ̈ user, Boston, pp 293
- an den Berg F, Cabri J 1999 Angewandte Physiologie – Das Bindegewebe des Bewegungsapparates verstehen und beeinflussen. Georg Thieme Verlag, Stuttgart, Germany
- Gellhorn E 1967 Principles of Autonomic– Somatic Integration: Physiological Basis and Psychological and Clinical Implications. University of Minesota Press, Minneapolis, MN
- Yahia L et al. 1992 Sensory innervation of human thoracolumbar fascia. Acta Orthopaedica Scandinavica 63(2): 195–197
- Staubesand J, Li Y 1997 Begriff und Substrat der Faziensklerose bei chronisch-veno ̈ ser Insuffizienz. Phlebologie 26: 72–79
- Staubesand J et al. 1997 La structure fine de l’apone ́ vrose jambie` re. Phle ́ bologie 50: 105–113
- Meyers, Thomas W. 2001. Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists.
- Bauer J, Heine H 1998 Akupunkturpunkte und Fibromyalgie – Mo ̈ glichkeiten chirurgischer Intervention. Biologische Medizin 6: 257–261