It is a huge issue; muscle and joint pain.
Have I already mentioned that it is the largest cost driver in American health care? Have I
already mentioned that we spend Billions and Billions and Billions on it with end stage surgeries
or long term physical therapy treatment plans that seem to be getting a bit of negative recognition
these days for its inefficiency?
Well, I suppose that there is no need to hash that out again. But, lets discuss a bit of why
muscles get messed up. Basically, and in brief (I’ll rewrite my web page on Fascial
Manipulation to better expand on this later), muscles are always working. That is usually
epiphanic for most people who think muscles are only working when we ask them to.
But, besides the obvious like heart and diaphragm, which we know are always working, most
of our skeletal muscles are also working, all the time. When we sleep they get a bit of a respite
but not really too much. They will always have tone and so are always under some stress.
Having said that, we need to distinguish between tonal stress and repetitive stress. Tone is the
basic setting that muscles have to hold us up and hold us together. But when we work out or do
an activity over and over hundreds of times, the muscles get damaged because of repetitive
Muscle pathology can be congenital like muscular dystrophy or it can be acquired like
Myasthenia Gravis or Multiple Sclerosis which seem to result from the body’s immune system
producing anti-bodies to fight a virus but end up attacking our own nerve processes. But one of
the biggest problems the human frame faces is that of acquired muscle pathology from trauma or
Now, trauma is pretty interesting in the many forms that it can manifest. As a firefighter, I’ve
seen lots of muscle trauma. From simple strains to open wounds that result from open
compound fractures that tear through muscle, crushing injuries that smash muscle, cutting
injuries that severe the fascia and muscle cells, and burn injuries that basically cook it. The body
will do its best to repair these injuries by laying down new collagen tissue to close the wound
and then stabilize it but the process ALWAYS results in large amounts of scar tissue. This is the
stuff that anyone can feel with palpation to the muscle; it feels like ropes under the skin.
Ultimately, it sucks and it’s permanent. This stuff is very strongly bonded to itself and only starts
to go away after years of appropriate action and movement. The problem is that the scar tissue
also permanently effects the way the muscle can contract. This is due to the fact that some of the
muscle will be healthy, but the scarred portion will not have the same contractility or, ability to
shorten smoothly. Consequently, it will not be able to do the same work and will misdirect the
forces produced. So much for “appropriate movement”.
While it only goes away with time, it can be accelerated by targeted therapy and appropriate,
corrective movement therapy. But, make no mistake, ultrasound, electrical therapy, IASTM
(Instrument assisted soft tissue manipulation) or ART (active release therapy – better known as
“pin and stretch”) treatments with plastic scraping tools will not significantly improve the
outcome. In fact, I highly discourage the deep scraping therapy that IASTM proposes. I have
seen patients who have come in with horrific bruises and it appears to me that it takes longer for
strained muscles to resolve than if you were to just leave them alone. Ultimately, It is more than
likely doing more damage than good to the fascial system. Remember, blood outside of the
capillary system always causes fibrosis. Though there are acolytes or IASTM and ART who
profess that there is science to this therapy, I have yet to see anything of the sort. There is no
valid science or theory to IASTM or ART. I’ve taken the time to look it up and there just is
nothing to justify the expensive seminars or painful treatments. Therapy needs to be targeted,
and it needs to be done properly to effect change in the physiology of muscle pathology. Fascial
Manipulation is the only therapeutic technique that has actual scientists doing actual research on
how to do this correctly and how to explain it to the medical world.
So, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, the second common acquired muscle pathology that
we can do something about is the deposition and consequent densification of Hyaluronic Acid
that results from repetitive stress. Here again is an entity that slowly accumulates and begins to
effect the neurologic communication between muscles as well as physically misdirecting the
forces of muscle contraction. Fortunately, this can be relatively quick to change by following a
well planned, strategic approach to therapy. This is learned from years of study but it is far more
effective for long term results because of the therapeutic development of the technique which
gives us the ability to develop the tactical approach necessary to address the issue from a three
dimensional corporeal (full body) view.
By removing the densification we can assist the muscles in correctly distributing the forces they
produce and help the joints better move the body. This is true structural restoration because the
machines that move the body are being tuned to efficiently move it. This is why patients often
report feeling less fatigue and more balance with common activities of daily living.
So, that’s a brief review of muscle pathology and what we need to do about it. Remember,
Fascial Manipulation is so profoundly different from all other techniques that your chances of
having significant improvement is very high – not perfect and not 100% (because nothing is)- but
You should be very cautious about paying for anything that doesn’t produce excellent
results for you. And your doctor should be able to explain to you the differences within in the
spectrum of pathology and it’s associated spectrum of therapies. So………ASK QUESTIONS.
Something to think about.