By Michilea Patterson, The Mercury
A local holistic professional is using a tool called the Fascia Blaster to help relieve her clients of pain conditions such as an achy back, neck tension or stiff shoulders. While many people contribute such pain to muscle problems, some say that the real issue is unhealthy fascia in the body.
“Fascia is a connective tissue basically. It’s all over your body,” said Erica Hansen O’Meara, a licensed massage therapist at Birds of Feather Holistic Wellness Studio in Lower Pottsgrove.
She said fascia is between the skin and the muscles as well as all around the internal organs of the body from head to toe. Unhealthy fascia is fascia that’s bound up and tight instead of smooth and relaxed. O’Meara said this can be caused by injuries or when someone stays in the same position for long periods of time such as people that work at a desk. She explained that the tension or ache causing pain may be because the fascia is tightly constricted.
Millions of people suffer from pain every year which can lead to increased healthcare costs, the need for rehabilitation and not being able to perform at work, according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine website. The website stated that chronic pain is pain that persists and can last for weeks, months or years. Common chronic pain conditions include headaches, low back pain, arthritis pain and cancer pain.
An analysis of a 2012 National Health Interview Survey found that most American adults have experienced some degree of pain. The analysis also stated that severe pain is likely to lead to a worse health status.
O’Meara said people with chronic pain may be under the assumption that it’s something they must live with but said that isn’t true. She said there are ways for people to be proactive in self-care so they don’t have to endure that pain anymore.
The National Health Interview Survey analysis stated that pain is one of the main reasons Americans look for holistic approaches such as mediation, yoga and massages. In addition to other traditional massage sessions, O’Meara also offers sessions and workshops on fascia. She uses a tool called the Fascia Blaster that was invented by a woman named Ashley Black and is marketed as something that can reduce cellulite.
She said many of her clients that try the blaster for the first time originally do so to get rid of cellulite which are dimples or lumps on the outer skin layer. O’Meara said Ashley Black wrote a book on the subject to compliment the Fascia Blaster tool she designed called “The Cellulite Myth: It’s Not Fat, It’s Fascia.”
The Fascia Blaster is a massage tool with several points that’s used directly on the skin to help smooth out the connective tissue inside the body. O’Meara said the great thing about the blaster is people can use it themselves at home. She said the blaster is a good tool to include in a self-maintenance routine. Using the tool on a regular basis combined with staying hydrated and exercising will help contribute to overall health, O’Meara said.
She said although many clients originally try the blaster for cellulite, they soon start to notice additional benefits such as better posture, improved sleep and of course less aches in the body.
“It (the Fascia Blaster) is for everybody. Whether you work out or don’t work out, you have fascia,” she said.
O’Meara explained that leaving fascia tightly bound can affect more than the muscles. The connective tissue can also impact blood vessels, nerves and organs. She said people should think of fascia as plastic wrap that surrounds everything.
O’Meara started using the massage tool on herself about a year ago because of the pain she felt after exercising.
“My recovery after my workout used to be five days. If I had a leg day then it would hurt to go down the stairs,” she said.
After O’Meara started learning more about fascia tissue she realized that may be her problem and gave the blaster a try. After she saw success on herself, she started using the device on her clients. When O’Meara offers a fascia series, all the participants take a before and after photo so they can see the physical changes such as better posture and muscle toning.
Clients that come in for a fascia session first warm up their body internally by doing a 15-minute workout such as riding on a stationary bike. The body is then warmed externally through a sauna blanket. That last stage involves using the Fascia Blaster but with a heated lamp still on the skin. O’Meara said using heat along with the blaster is very important.
“It just makes the fascia more malleable and easier to manipulate,” she said.
O’Meara said her clients have seen a lot of progress after using the blaster and that the tool has many benefits. She said the device can be used to improve circulation, get rid of migraines and other serious conditions like fibromyalgia.
Cheri Fox, of Perkiomenville, said her fascia session with O’Meara really help especially since she sits at a desk all day. She would regularly have pain in her neck, shoulders and arms.
“It completely cured that,” Fox said.
She said before using the blaster, she was getting regular massages to relieve the pain and now the blaster makes those massages a better experience. O’Meara said when people get a massage but don’t feel they got that deep-tissue experience then it’s probably because their fascia is tightly bound. She said the Fascia Blaster compliments massages because it helps loosen the mussels. Fox said the blaster has increased her range of motion and she’s able to do deeper yoga poses.
“I just feel like it’s really cutting edge,” Fox said.
Kim McQuillan, of New Hanover, has been using the blaster for about a month and said her body doesn’t have as much water retention so she’s less bloated. She also has more energy after using the device.
“I love it,” McQuillan said.
In addition to doing fascia sessions at the Birds of a Feather studio, O’Meara also offers in-home sessions to clients in Chester and Montgomery counties. She offers regular free workshops on fascia. The next one will be held noon on April 23 at Birds of Feather. The address is 2093 E. High St., Pottstown. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/massagebyeo.
For more information about the Fascia Blaster, the science behind the tool and videos, visit the website www.fasciablaster.com.