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“Fascial release” is not emotional

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

Fascia apologists are forever trying to convince me that their fetish for this tissue is evidence-based, clinically relevant, and intellectually mature, and yet I just keep hearing stories like this (paraphrased anecdote from a reader, who was horrified):

I nearly broke my hand, and I’ve been recovering from that injury. My physiotherapist was treating it with some massage. She described the technique as ‘fascial release,’ and warned me about a possible side effect: ‘You might feel sad, or even start to cry,’ she said.

Any health care may involve sadness and crying, but “fascial release” is not emotional: being cared for, touched, and manipulated is emotional. Occasionally. But it’s probably not emotional for 99% of patients who just want some rehab help after a wrist sprain. Emphasizing sadness as “side effect” of fascial release in that scenario requires a bizarre meltdown of clinical communication priorities. It wasn’t said because it mattered to the patient — it was pure marketing, a bullet point about the potency and specialness of fascial release.

Yep, weird ideas about fascia are out there in a big way.

I’ve added this anecdote to my featured fascia article, which explores fascia hype in ridiculous detail.