The meeting started with a welcome and blessing from the First Nations of BC and it was a beautiful way to begin the program. Topics included:
Changes in Fascia Related to Repetitive Motion Disorders
Adaption of Tendinous Connective Tissues to Exercise
Mechanical Loading & Fascial Changes
Scars and Adhesion
Myofascial Trigger Points
Developing Clinical Trials for Bodywork and Massage
The presenters were excellent and included researchers such as Carla Stecco, Geoffrey Bove, Robert Schleip, Paul Standley, Maureen Simmonds Leon Chaitow, Jay P. Shah, Jean Claude Guimberteau, Karen J. Sherman, Gerald Pollock, Helen Langevin, Diane Lee, Raúl Martinez Rodriquez, Antonio Stecco, Hal Brown, Susan Chapelle, Michael Diamond, Michael Kjaer, Rolf K. Reed, Michael Kuchera , Andrjez Pilat, , Gil Hedley, Lisa M. Hodge and many more wonderful people.
In attendance were many leaders in the massage field but more importantly where many disciplines represented- chiropractors, physical therapists, DO’s MD’s, ND’s structural integration practitioners, massage therapist and others that were interacting in a peer processes of support instead of turf battles.
I had the chance to go to dinner with many of the speakers and interact with them on in a relaxed manner and what a great bunch of people. As many of you know I have had a long term mentor relationship with Dr. Leon Chaitow and he has opened many doors for me and given me the opportunity to interact with many of the experts in this field. I have been following the work of the Stecco’s for years and it was really fun to meet and spend time with Carla Stecco. She is a beautiful person inside and out with a sweet and gentle manner but has no problem standing her ground when discussing fascia anatomy and manipulation. I got to meet Gerald Pollock who I have also followed for years. He researches water and his findings about how water can act as a liquid crystal and well as generate electrical charge. I encourage all to learn more about the research he is performing. http://depts.washington.edu/bioe/people/core/pollack.html. Fascia is highly water dependent and by understanding the multiple properties of water we can better understand the physiology of fascia.
Very pragmatically, I did not learn anything brand new and that is great. To me this means that I am well informed and current. I am also pleased that when I compare the information at the meeting to what I have included in the textbooks I write that almost all the information is in there. It continues to make me wonder how those textbooks can be used in many massage classes and yet the information does not get integrated into massage therapy professional practice. Some of the reasons include: students not reading their textbooks, students being overwhelmed with too much information in too short of a school time and a lack of motivation to develop critical thinking skills. I also know that if an instructor is not familiar with a piece of information they will gloss over it. For those that are teaching that is really a no no. We must follow the research and adapt as more information becomes available.
There are a couple of clear principles I gleaned from the presenters:
· Too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing
· Body layers and parts should slide and slip around.
· Fascia can get thick and sticky
· Inflammation is a big problem when it does not resolve. Chronic inflammation contributes to fascia getting thick and sticky
· Fascia responses to cyclic loading and goes from thick and sticky to slippery and sliding.
· Deform the shape of the tissue and the cells respond.
· It takes about 90 seconds of continuous loading of tissues to elicit a change- This means that during massage if we perform a gliding stroke in an area it should begin a bit before the binding tissue (thick and stuck), slowly drag through the area making sure the tissues change shape (use a lot less lubricant) and then stop a little past the bind. This should take about 90 seconds. The change direction and do it again. Think- with the tissue grain and a crossed the tissue grain. If the tissue is able to respond- and not all tissue is-it should be more slippery and sliding.
· We need to explain what we do using mechanical forces- tension, shear, torsion, compression, etc. We need to describe how we are creating the mechanical forces with pounds of pressure, direction, drag, speed, anatomy targeted, frequency, duration and so forth.
· Let’s support the researchers with clearly thought out questions and describe what we do in clear generic and common language.
· A variety of connective tissue types connect everything to everything so you need to massage the whole body.
· We need to stop putting strange names on methods that are basically the same and trademarking the application of mechanical force application.
· Fascia is a tissue type and not the answer to every pathology. Let’s not get gimmicky or overemphasis one particular process.
· Let’s not explode basic research finding into more than what they are and let’s not turn possibilities into facts.
· Let’s continue to explore the possibilities.
· Let’s continue the dialog among the various professionals that move soft tissue around purposefully and with an outcome in mind and the researchers.
· Let’s partner actively with researchers who have access to the facilities and equipment to do the research.
· Let’s support research financially- it is expensive. The best way we have as massage therapists is the Massage Therapy Foundation. If we all gave the Foundation each year what we charge for one massage there would be resources for research.
My main question is:
What is fascia release? I heard a hundred descriptions at the meeting.
I suggest that there are ways of adapting introduction of mechanical forces into soft tissue ( you can call it what you want- I call it massage) that more influence the properties of this tissue type primarily speed-slow, work in and out of bind, and target areas with a large amount of fascia such as the lumbar dorsal fascia, the musculotendinous junctions, scalp and plantar fascia while working with the whole body.
Finally there was one small group of individuals researching how much force we apply when we apply massage and I hope they continue with their focus. This topic speaks to body mechanics and ergonomics.