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How to Safely and Effectively Load and SHEAR Fascial Adhesions for Rapid Fascia Release/Pain Relief

Fast Fascia Facts #5 

  1. Fasciacytes respond to a loaded (weighted) compression combined with a “shearing” effect to restore fascial gliding. HOW HEAVY DOES THAT LOAD NEED TO BE?  (answer is below)
  2. Fascial fibers need to be “sheared” to restore glide, and fasciacytes won’t respond to compression and stretching, or manual manipulation that isn’t weighted compression plus shearing. WHAT THE HECK IS SHEARING?
  3. Your fascia is responsive to your nervous system, which governs SAFETY. The amount of weight you use will be determined by YOUR nervous system (not anyone else’s). 

My answer is theoretical and anecdotal based on clinical experience in my practice as well as what I know does NOT work from personal and professional experience. On the lighter side I believe fascia (and fasciacytes) need at least 5lbs of compressive force, but I can tell you with certainty that they respond favorably to very heavy loads, as much as 200lbs! HOWEVER – and this is critical – if you don’t feel safe, then the weight is too much. Also, the unhealthier your fascia the more dangerous it is to load it with that much weight because it’s probably brittle and more prone to injury. Ideally you would build up to more and more weight until your fascia is fully optimized (which means it won’t hurt AT ALL even with 200lbs on your IT Band for example! Promise).

The PERFECT amount of weight is as much as you can get or withstand while still feeling safe.

For the record, you can feel really uncomfortable while feeling a lot of unpleasant sensation and still feel safe. You need to find your unique equation for this, and it may vary body part by body part. 

This is bound to be somewhat controversial. I did massage therapy for a year and never got someone out of pain for good. They’d feel better for a day or so, then the pain would come back. As soon as I started loading the fascial adhesions with weighted compression and having my clients move their body to “shear” the fascial adhesions in order to break them up for good, my clients started getting out of pain in as little as one session and sometimes in a manner of minutes. So what does it take to SHEAR fascial fibers? We talked about weight above, but the other critical element is the shearing. You can compress fascia with 5lbs or 200lbs but unless your shearing technique is performed well, you won’t get that great result. You might improve the health of your superficial fascia and lymph, but you won’t “release” the adhesions. So the load is only ONE part of this process.

In order to “shear” fascial fibers effectively, you need to pin a dense area between two objects.

One will be your bone (like your femur if you’re working on quad fascia). The other object could be a foam roller, lacrosse ball, someone’s elbow or a foot (like I use with Kinetix, my in person method of fascia release). It’s critical that you don’t pin or compress the fascia all the way to the floor (or wall or massage table)…you want to pin to the bone. Then, the person being worked on needs to conduct movement under the weighted compression in such a way that the two objects combined with the movement under those loads “shear” that fascial fibers crosswise. When I step on people I’m always putting my foot perpendicular to the area being worked to achieve the best results. You can do the same thing with whatever tool you’re using. Doing fascia release this way is a LOT harder to do well than it looks, because you can’t let the fascial adhesion slip out or simply flop around (which it will want to do, since it’s swimming in a gel or glue like substance inside). Patience and practice and slowing down no matter what modality you’re using will help you get it right. When you do – you’ll notice a difference immediately. 

Continuing from #1 above. If you’re in fight/flight/freeze, your chances of getting a result with fascia release decrease significantly. That’s because your fascia will contract to protect you if it is signaled with a danger cue from your nervous system. And for people with trauma in their history, if the nervous system isn’t addressed properly, fascia work itself might feel like a re-traumatization. 

Whenever you’re doing fascia release – whether with a practitioner, a partner or by yourself – make sure you feel safe

On a daily basis, your fascia will respond to what is happening in your nervous system consistently. If you are constantly fearful, stressed out or otherwise cueing protection and stress hormones, your fascia will likely stay contracted. The more you find ways to cue the rest and restore response (parasympathetic), and welcome pleasure and joy into your body via the nervous system, the more relaxed and at ease your fascia will become. And when it’s in this state consistently, even if it gets “wound up” from working out or hard sports and activities (which is normal), when you spend time releasing your fascia it will respond incredibly fast compared to someone who is more anxious and stressed. 

Share your thoughts below, I LOVE hearing from you!

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  • Becky says:

    You are a wealth of information, thank you for sharing it with the world 🙂

  • giles hinchcliffe says:

    Thanks – very helpful.
    These are excellent short presentations.
    I have really clunky quads and knee pain and have committed to this technique.
    It does seem to take time to get results!
    But I am sticking with it every day and telling other people to try it too.
    I am interested in your continued mention of water.
    I drink a lot of tea! Does that count?

    • Becky says:

      Hydrationfoundation.org taught me how to better hydrate my fascia and they are on the same lines about fascia as she it.

  • kimberly says:

    So true that we can feel “Safe” even when in a lot of pain! The best massage therapist i ever visited kept me in motion through brachial neuritis for a year, and whew, he caused a lot of pain! I hated almost every minute of what he did to stop contractions from forming in denervated muscle. But i totally trusted him and knew every time i left his office i would be in a better place than when i arrived, and it all worked! I am sure it would be the same if i ever make it to your office!

  • Great information– the body always knows what it needs–just listen and feel–Kathell

    • Kathnell – YES, it sure does! Thanks as always for sharing your thoughts 🙂

  • Lita Remsen says:

    Can you speak to Putting weight on a body if that body has Osteoporosis (or Osteopenia.) . Or what if the person doesn’t know that they have this condition yet. Thanks

    • Hi Lita – I am really glad you asked this! If the person doesn’t know, then there’s not a lot I can say other than use caution, learn to know your own safety limits and know your body enough to discern for yourself if it feels safe/healthy or unsafe/unsure. If anyone is ever unsure it feels safe at home, trying this on their own – I would caution you/them to get professional help instead of going it alone. As for osteoporosis – definitely a NO-GO. It’s just about the ONLY physical condition under which I won’t work on my in person clients. However, sometimes they’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis in the spine only, for example. In which case I will work on other areas of their body WITH PERMISSION from their doctor. If a doctor ever tells you it is ok to get deep tissue massage, then it should be ok to do fascia work. Hope that helps and sorry if it’s not the greatest news 🙁

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