Recently I had the pleasure of meeting one of the foremost experts on the fascia system here. Anthony Chrisco is a personal trainer (ACE CPT, NASM PES) and is a founding member of The Fascia Research Society. I first saw Anthony speak at our local health food store and have been fascinated with his research ever since. I’ve also had the experience of a one-on-one myofascial rolling session with him and have since purchased my own roller for home use! Anthony has agreed to do an interview with Vibrant Wellness Journal to share the wonderful, healing secrets of myofascial release with our readers!
VWJ: The first question to get out of the way is, what is fascia?
Anthony Chrisco (AC): Fascia is the neurologically active tissue that envelops all of our tissues head to toe. Sometimes it is referred to as the ‘plastic wrap’ that keeps all our muscles and ligaments together. This connective tissue wraps and envelops our arteries, veins, muscles, nerves, organs, bones, tendons and ligaments and is the most neurologically active tissue in the body. When left untreated, it can exert tensile forces of up to 2,000 pounds per square inch on pain sensitive structures in the body. This pressure causes a decreased blood flow and decreased lymphatic drainage, which leads to increased inflammation and pain. Regular exercise and activity does help move the fascia, but rarely does it get at the source of the tension. And for those that cannot be physically active, myofascial release can help them decrease their pain and increase mobility so that they can begin being more active.
Despite the importance of this amazing tissue, fascia was not recognized as an organ system until 2012! And yet, this fascinating system has been known for thousands of years. In fact, the meridian lines (energy lines) in Traditional Chinese Medicine match up with key points of fascia!
VWJ: What is myofascial release? How can it help our bodies heal from pain?
AC: MYO = muscle, six-hundred and twenty-two muscles to be exact, connected to two-hundred and six bones; FASCIA= neurologically active tissue; RELEASE = releasing the tension that builds up in the muscle in the form of stress, toxins, and waste products that cause our muscles to shorten which decreases flexibility and causes pain and inflammation. Myofascial release can help reduce physical and mental stress, reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia, arthritis, plantar fasciitis, help increase the mobility of all of the major joints, reduce the incidence of migraine headaches along with an array of other ailments that heretofore were defined as having “no known etiology.” Myofascial release might just be the “magic bullet” for many “diseases” that have no known clinical explanation.
VWJ: What does self-myofascial release feel like?
AC: Most people who have never tried it will say that it “hurts.” Some shy away from this healing process because they have been conditioned to stop doing something if it “hurts.” However, if done properly this pain subsides and after a few sessions people begin to say “it hurts so good.” Here are some descriptors that help people understand what is happening when they are doing Self Myofascial Release: some people feel like there are little pebbles under their skin, whereas other areas might feel like there is sand or grit under the skin. Larger areas will literally cause the body to shudder and jerk during the rolling process. But what happens next is even more intriguing: the mind starts to enter a place of relaxation that most people have not had the pleasure of experiencing. The body starts to sweat as toxins are released from the muscle tissue. Joints like the shoulder, knee, hip and ankle start to have more mobility. People describe a sense of lightness in moving and a dramatic decrease in pain. With continued practice of the Fascianation Method, you will begin to notice that your aches and pains are gone. Additionally, your energy levels will rise and you will have better sleep and better flexibility and posture.
VWJ: It almost sounds too good to be true!
AC: Yes, it does seem too good to be true. But for more than a decade, I have been teaching clients across the country the benefits of Self Myofascial release using a simple tool known as The Fascianator. This roller is made of hard plastic, and is just two feet long and three inches wide. Since then, many other versions of this tool have come to the health and fitness market. But the tool is just an inanimate object– it’s the proper techniques which lead to proper outcomes and true healing. I’ve developed these techniques to really address the areas of tension within the fascia and to help alleviate some of the pain associated with some of the problems listed above. My technique is called The Fascianation Method. Each roller comes with an instructional booklet to learn these patented techniques, and I also have a DVD that delves even deeper into the science and benefits of myofascial release. The whole purpose of this work is to teach the world about this miraculous process and help people live pain-free while learning how to LISTEN to their bodies. In my years of teaching I have had the opportunity to help people get off the damaging cycle of painkillers like morphine, tramadol, oxycontin, hydrocodone, etc. Many of these people had been taking medication for more than a decade!
VWJ: So who can benefit from myofascial release? What should people know before starting?
AC: Most people!! Athletes, busy moms, senior citizens, arthritis sufferers, people who live with fibromyalgia, people living with multiple sclerosis and yes, the average person who does not suffer from a disease. The average person deals with one, two or even three of these common musculoskeletal ailments: plantar fasciitis, shin splints, knee pain, I.T band syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraine headaches, trigger finger, low back pain. The list goes on and on, and The Fascianation Method can help you rid your body of these aches and pains as well as teach you how to manage your body so they never come back. This is REAL and I have seen it with my own two eyes!
How can I make all these claims without sounding like a snake-oil salesman? Experience and testimonials from clients and from hundreds of students that have taken my myofascial release class over the years. Below is a real testimonial from a student in my classes. She exemplifies what happens too often in our myopically focused Western medicine paradigm, which teaches doctors to treat symptoms while ignoring the root cause of a disease and pain. Certainly Western medicine can be a valuable resource to increase the quality of our lives, but a more holistic approach to pain management might solve more issues than prescriptions for painkillers!
This is an actual testimonial from a member who has taken my class:
I wanted to let you know how grateful I am that you are teaching the Fascianation Method class. In late January, you suggested we check out your class that was starting in February. I would have never imagined the difference it has made in my life as well as my family’s. As I left the very first Fascianation Method class, I could already feel something was different.
My body was falling apart. My husband claimed that I needed to exercise, but I couldn’t because every part of my body was so poor since most of my days were spent stuck behind a desk and a computer, or behind the wheel. A ten minute exercise on an elliptical kept me in pain for days! Between the daily doses of ibuprofen for my headaches, creaking knees, carpal tunnel and sciatic pain; the pseudoephedrine for sinus allergy problems; and the increase in blood pressure from all the meds, I was beginning to accept that it was only downhill from here. Because of what you have shared and taught, I am so ecstatic to say that in the last nine weeks, I have taken ONE allergy pill, and that was when we had the heavy bout of vog. No more meds for headaches, sciatic pain, carpal tunnel or creaking, sore knees. The numbing and tingling in my hands still occur every now and then, but nowhere near what it used to be. My husband says that I’m a different person.
From being down for days after only a few minutes of exercise to surviving one hour Zumba or bootcamp classes a few times a week; in just a few weeks is truly a miracle. […] Thank you for having the passion to see people well, and following that passion. It’s really remarkable. Thank You. With Sincere Appreciation, Val T.
Here’s a super cool video that shows what our fascia looks like and how it interacts with the rest of our vessels, joints and muscles.
VWJ would like to thank Anthony Chrisco for the interview! Find his Fascianator Self-Myofascial Release roller here, and contact him with questions at achrisco16[at]gmail.com. And please remember, we’re bloggers, not doctors. See a qualified medical practitioner to treat, cure or diagnose disease or pain.