A couple of years ago I learned about a new technique called Functional Fascial Therapeutics – a new type of acupuncture (FFT) .  When I started to study it, I liked that it is a unique acupuncture modality which allowed me to target the superficial layer of fascia.   This is the tissue that wraps around muscles & joints. What’s unique about FFT is that it’s a non-intramuscular technique, which means the needle is inserted much shallower.  It goes between the skin and the muscle and does not enter the muscle itself.

 

The shallower insertion has several advantages:

  1. It allows the treatment to be combined with movement whereas traditional acupuncture requires you to stay still.
  2. It has much less discomfort than traditional acupuncture as the superficial fascia is not innervated by the nervous system like the skin and muscles. This allows more people to benefit from this technique.

Who will benefit from Functional Fascial Therapeutics?

I have found that Functional Fascial Therapeutics is especially useful when you have chronic tightness.  I have seen better outcomes in people who have years of postural adaptations which have prevented them from progressing with other treatments and therapeutic exercises due to lack of mobility/tissue pliability.

This modality is especially beneficial for people who:

  1. have pain
  2. difficulty stretching tissues
  3. adhesions from scar tissue/trauma

Why does fascia matter to my treatment?

In order for us to understand why we would consider this modality, let’s first talk briefly about fascia, its relevance and importance within the musculoskeletal system.

Fascia is described as the ” Connective webbing tissue of the body”.  It is composed of collagen – the most abundant protein in the human body. Collagen is found in our bones, muscles, skin, and tendons. It binds every cell in the body to its neighbours and even connects the inner network of each cell to the mechanical state of the our body.

Part of its connecting nature may lie in its ability to store and communicate information across the entire body. Think of Fascia as a 3D Matrix that wraps around muscles, organs, other structures, giving them a scaffolding-like support, and providing their shape.

The purpose of fascia

There are several types of fascia, ranging from superficial to very deep.  The Functional Fascial Therapeutic technique targets the “superficial fascia” which is the tissues that wrap around  individual muscles.

The easiest way to understand the role of fascia in movement is that: Muscles generate force, and Fascia transmits those forces throughout the body.  If the integrity of the ability to distribute tension (Tensegrity) is compromised, it will change the way force is distributed through our body and can result in pain and imbalances in our tissues.

Another way to look at this is that fascia is plastic whereas muscles are elastic.  Fascia will adapt to its environment (posture), and because the muscles are encapsulated in fascia, they are going to have a hard time contracting and doing their job if the “wrap” they are in is preventing them from transmitting and communicating those forces optimally.

Fascial tightness and cellular nutrition

The human body is basically” a pump”, with the healthiest tissues getting constant replenishments of fluids/nutrients going in and out.  The means that the tighter the fascia the more difficult it is to get nutrients into the cells.  This is why people who move more, generally have less physical discomfort.

How easily nutrients get into the target cell is largely determined by the density of the fibrous matrix, a.k.a fascia.  When the fibers are too dense (might be caused by prolonged adaptation to short & tight, long and tight musculature, lack of tissue mobility), or too dehydrated and viscous, then these cells will be less thoroughly fed and watered. This technique helps restore this balance.

 My approach

As a manual therapist I firmly believe that there is no one magic technique, no best modality, or single best tool to use for a given problem. The approach should always be catered to each individual based on their health history, their pathology/condition, their tissue tolerance and their willingness to explore different therapeutic avenues.  No two bodies are alike, no two nervous systems are alike, therefore there should not be a single approach.

Functional Fascial Therapeutics – a new type of acupuncture

The FFS modality is one of many techniques I use as it allows me to target the superficial fascia directly, affecting its tension instantly.  When I combine it with movement, cupping techniques and tissue pumping, it can disperse the fascial clogs/adhesions/tugs which will allow the tissue to resume its specialized “social” function,.

Please contact me if you would like to learn more about Functional Fascial Therapeutics – a new type of acupuncture contact Igal Untershats at  igalu@orthophysio.com or call 416-925-4687 to book an appointment..

  • author's avatar

    By: Igal Untershats

    Igal Untershats is a Registered Massage Therapist working in downtown Toronto. He provides Swedish Massage and positional release therapy treatments at The Orthopaedic Therapy Clinic. He has worked with athletes and cancer survivors.

  • author's avatar

  • author's avatar

    Cupping Therapy Relieves Pain

    See all this author’s posts