There are rare moments when I get the exact same question from multiple clients, and it always surprises me which gadgets or topics are getting lots of attention from the media, fitness gurus and forums, social media and other news sources. I personally had never heard of the Fascia Blaster (maybe that shows how disconnected I am!), but when a few clients separately asked me my opinion about it, I suddenly needed to get “in the know.”
If you are like me and have never heard of the Fascia Blaster, it is a tool in the shape of a baton that has knobby-looking prongs extending along its shaft. The primary marketing focus of the tool is use for aesthetic purposes: reducing the bumpy look of cellulite that many women experience in the legs and other areas of the body. However, the tool also claims to provide pain relief, increase blood flow, reduce inflammation, smooth the fascia and even lessen brain fog (wow, that seems like a stretch!). In support of some of these claims, any prolonged manipulation of soft tissue by external means, whether it is through the use of a tool like the Fascia Blaster or by the hands of a massage therapist or bodyworker will generally increase blood flow, reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Just to note, there are also other good “at home” tools out there to promote blood flow, release trigger points, reduce inflammation, and provide pain relief (the Theracane is one that comes to mind that many of my clients have used and liked).
However the claim to reduce the look of cellulite by treating the fascia brings up a couple important considerations. The first one is to understand how fascia functions and how to treat fascia in a way that supports long-lasting structural change in the body. Fascia, as the Fascia Blaster website rightly explains, is an interconnected matrix of supportive tissue in the body that would still maintain its shape and form if somehow you could remove all the blood, fluids, bones and other structural elements from the body. In this sense, enacting a treatment at one fascial location could and often does have the potential to impact another area of the body through the fascial matrix. The fascia tends to move as one connected system of tissue, making it more complex to treat compared to the individual fibers of muscle tissue, which have the capacity to get tight and release on the level of the individual band of tissue. This is both an interesting phenomenon as well as a challenge, as fascial problems will typically respond when the entire matrix is well positioned to make an adjustment. Based on my experience treating hundreds of clients, there is usually an energetic as well as a structural component to resolving fascia problems. Because the energetic component of the body would entail another blog entry on it’s own, I won’t get into the energetic aspect in this blog. The structural components for treating fascia are simply, extended time plus moderate pressure. In the world of bodywork there is an entire myofascial release system for treating fascia.
In my Chinese medicine based approach, cupping is the methodology I use to treat fascial problems and restrictions. Cupping is a tool derived from Chinese medicine, and even though classical Chinese medicine practitioners weren’t necessarily applying a purely structural approach or specifically aiming to treat fascia when they began using cups thousands of years ago, they inherently knew that fascia would naturally respond to the energetic applications of cupping. Since matter and energy are intertwined in the human body, no matter which way you analyze the application and effects of cupping, the outcome is the same: less tissue rigidity and restriction in range of motion, increased blood and fluid flow through the tissue, and less pain.
The second consideration is to understand why cellulite develops in the body (I’ll let you research this!) and even more so, connecting this appearance of this undesirable tissue back to the overall health of the body and the quality of its building blocks: the food we eat. Generally speaking, excess fat on the body is a safe dispensary for toxic materials (pollutants in the air, chemicals in cleaners and cosmetics and other household goods, pesticides on our foods, toxic by-products of pathogenic organisms residing in our bodies, hydrogenated oils, etc.). Adding excess weight in the form of adipose tissue is often our body’s built-in safety mechanism for keeping the bad stuff it can’t effectively neutralize and eliminate through the bowel out of blood circulation where, over time, it can cause major stress and harm to the organs. This is a point that most of my clients desiring weight loss are not aware of, and I often have to educate them that instead of orienting our work towards losing weight, we are going to orient our work towards improving the overall nutritional quality and functioning of the body so that the weight naturally stabilizes at the body’s healthiest set point. The condition of the all body tissue, fascia included, is dependent on consuming and absorbing enough high quality nutrients. No external gadget (no matter how good) can replace the body’s need to have proper fuel and in the right macronutrient ratios.
As far as reducing the look of cellulite by means of using the Fascia Blaster, I would say that using any similar tool would help in terms of improving the health and function of muscle tissue and fascia by means of massage and increasing blood flow and circulation to the tissue – which will have a subtle impact on how structure looks. However, I would be skeptical of major body appearance altering affects, simply because what is reflected on the outside as structure is most directly impacted the state of health inside the body (physiologically and emotionally).
The verdict: as long as you don’t have unrealistic expectations and don’t go too crazy with either time spent using the Fascia Blaster, or the amount of pressure you apply using this tool, I think it is a supportive at-home tool for overall tissue health and functioning – IF you are disciplined enough to haul it out and use it several times per week!