Fascia Kittens For Everyone!

It’s fair to be said that the only people who really take the fascia thing very seriously are those who are invested in the word or the concept for whatever reason.

Fascial Manipulators, Fascial Releasers, Fascial Roller Manufacturers the list goes on.  It’s no surprise that all of these will tell us that whatever it is that they do, has an effect on fascia.

The supporting claims made for the effects on fascia by these modalities and pieces of equipment is accompanied for the most part by a whole raft of scientific bunkum that often lumps fascia into one bundle and addresses it as a single unit or type of tissue, without basic facts getting in the way.

The science side of things often does no better.  The bi-annual festival of fascial backslapping that takes place under the banner of the Fascia Research Congress, brings together a wide range of scientists keen to present their latest ideas and theories under one roof.

For the most part the research, to the untrained eye (indeed to even the trained one sometimes) seems either pointless, unintelligible or both, but little matter.  Research is being done and the field is being moved forward slowly but surely. Hooray and fascial treatments all round!

The trouble is that from this very early, very inconclusive and often very poor research base, the world of complementary ‘bollocks speak’ is having a field day.

Every other treatment now releases fascia, hydrates fascia, lengthens fascia or does something miraculous to the fascia, which in turn gives you more of whatever it is you want.  Flexibility, less pain, tighter buns, eternal life and so on.  These days if you want to be sexy, you’d better be working on the fascia.  Stretching is so last year darling.

I hold my hands up to jumping on the fascia bandwagon myself, having renamed The Bowen Technique, Bowen ‘Fascial Release’ Technique.  The unashamed rebranding was for no better a reason than to at least try and give Bowen a peg on which to hang its hat and move it away from the crazed evangelist guardians intent on suffocating it.  But of that another time.

So what does fascial release even mean?  To be honest I’m not really sure.  The idea that you can in some way change the properties of fascia by applying manual therapy to it is far fetched at best and the pressures required to create change in fascial tissue are, probably, more likely to rip it before it changes.  Is Bowen working fascia?  Probably but not exclusively and that’s the point. Nothing is.

So what about taping the fascia?  Again I have watched YouTube videos, where sensible people demonstrate applying tape, of various colours and let’s not forget price, to bits of the body whilst climbing that this tape will adjust the fascia around the SI joint.  Again the likelihood of this being the case is not high.

This all makes for a fairly sad state of affairs and one which often draws snorts of derision from anatomical academics and serious scientists when the F word is mentioned.  Fascia, beaten to death on the commercial imperative of the complementary medicine field, desperate to find something of gravitas to justify its own existence, is in danger of becoming something of a laughing stock to the rest of the world.  The irony is that an industry that preaches holism and addressing body wide issues, has chosen one bit of (admittedly neglected) connective tissue and obsessed over it.

While I’m beating up on my own doorstep, I’d hate to let the academics off with a pat on the head for being so outrageously smug.  Connective tissue in the form of fascias of various kinds, clearly has more of a role to play than just being a container for muscle and much more understanding and good research is needed to understand how it responds.

It’s not all bad of course.  There are some serious researchers out there and in the midst of the codswallop and bad science being bandied around, a real interest is being shown in this interface which has been woefully ignored for a long time.  If the focus can be shifted to this much needed area of understanding, then I believe that we can probably create a better understanding of body wide function than currently exists.

Wild and outrageous claims need not apply.