FASCIAL COUNTERSTRAIN

WHAT IS COUNTERSTRAIN?

Fascial Counterstrain (FCS) is a therapeutic, hands-on method, designed to release spasm in all tissues of the human body. Every organ, nerve, artery, muscle, ligament, tendon, vein and lymphatic vessel in the human body can actively spasm and produce pain in a natural, protective response to injury. Once this reflex spasm is triggered it can persist, spread & form hundreds of tender points. FCS works to release the tissue in spasm and the corresponding tender point by gently unloading the injured structure. Gentle body positioning and compression or shortening of the strained structure works to effect a therapeutic release. By positioning the body against the strain or by applying a “counterstrain”, the structure quickly relaxes, thus reducing tension and immediately alleviating this primary source of pain. The elimination of this strain is quickly verified by simply checking the point, which is frequently no longer tender.


[Source: Counterstrain Academy. Portland, OR]

COUNTERSTRAIN FOR THE MUSCULOSKELETAL SYSTEM

Muscles
Muscles are the primary movers of the body and we have over 640 of them, each with different origins, insertions, actions and innervations. Muscles attach to bones through tendons and produce force and movement through contractions that change the muscles length. Via muscle fascia or myofascia, muscles are also connected to each other and form long chains of muscles that can span down the length of arms and legs, down your torso or back and into your pelvic floor, and from your TMJ into your neck. With Counterstrain, we release these long chains of muscle with simple body positioning, which decreases muscle tension and spasm.

Spinal Ligaments
The spine has 5 ligaments that run up and down it from the base of the head down to the tailbone. 3 of those ligaments, we have techniques for with Counterstrain.

  • The Ligamentum Flavum: This ligament runs down the back of your spine. When it spasms, it can cause pain in the spine (commonly neck and low back), but also in joints in your arms and legs. If you've had an MRI of your spine, the imaging report may have used words like ligamentum flavum hypertrophy, or spinal stenosis. These are diagnosis caused by dysfunctions in the ligamentum flavum that are treatable with Counterstrain. When dysfunctional, the ligamentum flavum will also cause very predictable joint restrictions. For example, the knee joint will get tight from a ligamentum flavum spasm at the L3, L4 level of your low back. If any joint in your body is tight and restricted, it's likely the ligamentum flavum in your spine needs treatment. 

    • The Anterior Longitudinal Ligament: The anterior longitudinal ligament runs down the front of the spine. When it spasms, it will restrict the spine in a flexed position and flatten the natural curves in your neck and low back. A spasm of this ligament is especially common in people that have disc herniations, as the spasm puts pressure on the front of the disc, pushing it backwards, where it herniates. In some cases, until this ligament gets treated, disc herniations have trouble resolving. 

    • The Posterior Longitudinal Ligament: The posterior ligament also runs down the back of the spine but inside the spinal canal. When it spasms, it restricts the spine in an extended position which exaggerates the curves in your neck and low back. These spasms can lead to degenerative changes in the spine like spinal stenosis and contribute to diagnosis like pinched nerves.   
       

    • Cartilage
      Cartilage exists all throughout the body and in various shapes and forms. It's the meniscus in the knee, the labrum in the hip and the shoulder, the connection from the ribs to the sternum. When the cartilage is dysfunctional, it will restrict movement in the joint and cause pain. This will eventually contribute to joint degeneration and osteoarthritis. Cartilage in the rib cage and the spine has an even more impactful effect. When dysfunctional it can twist and put tension through the sympathetic trunk which effects the motility of our visceral organs. Where ever the dysfunction is, cartilage treatment is essential for pain relief, ability to function, and wellness. 

      Bone
      ‚ÄčTreatment of bones or periosteum includes some of the coolest and most powerful techniques that we do. A twist or a torsion of the bone puts tension on every anatomical structure (nerve, artery, vein, muscle) that runs down that bone. Therefore, dysfunction of bones have been linked to symptoms like poor blood flow, diagnosis like tendonitis and neuropathy, and presentations like leg length discrepancies. By treating the bones we are correcting the structure or foundation that the rest of the body is built on. As always, as strong foundation is essential for stability, function, and wellness. 

      [Source: Jones Institute: Counterstrain. Carlsbad CA]

COUNTERSTRAIN FOR THE NERVOUS SYSTEM

The “Master System”
One of the many benefits of Fascial Counterstrain is that it can be used to treat dysfunction in any of the body’s soft tissue systems. This includes the body’s master system, the nervous system. The nervous system controls the body’s pain perception, movements, senses, digestion, vascular flow, cognition, proprioception and emotional responses. Thus unimpeded function of the nervous system is vital for our body to maintain homeostasis, function normally and remain disease free.


The Specialized covering of the Nervous System
Like all soft tissues in the body, the nervous system is enveloped entirely in deep fascia (connective tissue). The specialized fascia of the nervous system is called the epineurium.  Over 50% of every nerve is actually made of neural fascia. It covers and protects all of the nerves in the human body including those related to the muscles, skin, organs and vessels.


What are the symptoms of inflamed nerve tissue?
When inflamed or injured, the fascia of the nervous system can cause many symptoms such as numbness, “pinched nerves” or chronic muscle spasm anywhere in the body. Other common examples of nerve related conditions include: Carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic headaches, chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and even idiopathic (unknown cause) peripheral neuropathy.


How does Fascial Counterstrain alleviate chronic nerve inflammation?
Fascial Counterstrain utilizes diagnostic tender points, named for specific neural structures, to diagnose and treat the entire nervous system. During a treatment, the inflamed nerve is identified via it’s specific “tender point” and then the nerve is “decompressed” via a specific fascial glide. This pain free position is then held for 30-45 seconds during which time the valves of the local venous and lymphatic vessels of the nerve open, allowing all local nerve swelling to dissipate.

For those of you who would like a more technical physiological explanation of the mechanism by which fascial dysfunction can exist and can be corrected via Fascial Counterstrain see Brian Tuckey's article Fascial Counterstrain Introduction.

Who Developed Fascial Counterstrain for the Nervous System and how can I receive Treatment?
Fascial Counterstrain for the Nervous System was developed and copyrighted by Brian Tuckey PT, OCS, JSCCI who teaches Advanced Counterstrain Courses through the international Continuing Education company, the Jones Institute (www.jicounterstrain.com).
If you feel you suffer from symptoms related to fascial dysfunction of the nervous system, feel free to set up a detailed examination with Revitalize or go to Jones Institute website to find a practitioner in your area.

[Source: Tuckey and Associates.  Frederick, MD]

COUNTERSTRAIN FOR THE ARTERIAL SYSTEM

The Arterial system is your body's life line. It is one of the few systems that functions involuntarily as it continuously circulates blood through our bodies. It transports life sustaining oxygen and nutrients to our muscles, joints, bones, visceral organs, and even our brains. Each artery is a smooth hollow tunnel. When dysfunction arises, the artery falls in to a state of vasospasm which risks the integrity of the tunnel, decreasing the amount of blood flow, and making the artery vulnerable to the buildup of plaque and clotting. Without appropriate blood supply our tissues are also subject to degeneration and injuries will be slow to heal.

Counterstrain to the Arterial system directs its treatment to the contractile component of the artery, the tunica adventitia. By slackening the arteries fascial tissue, we can release the vasospasm and normalize blood flow to where it was once restricted. Arterial Counterstrain is extremely effective in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain but is also crucial in the maintenance of health and wellness. A fully functioning arterial system will efficiently provide blood, oxygen, and nutrients to our muscles, bones, and joints and can prevent degenerative diseases like tendonitis and osteoarthritis. Additionally, uninhibited blood flow to our internal organs and brain will help preserve the function of our vital structures and ensure a high quality of life.

[Source: Jones Institute: Counterstrain. Carlsbad CA]

COUNTERSTRAIN FOR THE VENOUS AND LYMPHATIC SYSTEM

The Venous and Lymphatic system is one of the most powerful systems to address during treatment. It is comprised of veins, which return deoxygenated blood back to the heart and lungs, and lymph vessels, which carry lymph fluid filled with our bodies waste products back to the heart.

The Arterial system delivers oxygenated and nutrient filled blood to our tissues. Once our tissues have absorbed what they need, 90% of the fluid filled with excess nutrients and waste products are collected by the veins and transported back to the heart. When the veins are in a state of vasospasm, they cannot efficiently remove the blood causing a state of inflammation. Inflammation directly causes symptoms of pain due to inflammatory chemicals that excite our pain receptors.

The other 10% of the fluid gets collected by the lymphatic vessels. This fluid (lymph) contains large protein molecules, viruses, toxins, and bacteria that can cause illness. As the lymph is pumped back towards the heart, it flows through lymph nodes, where the viruses, toxins, and bacteria get cleaned out by the immune system. Therefore, it is essential that the Venous and Lymphatic system be functionally efficiently to normalize our bodies circulatory and immune function and decrease pain.

[Source: Jones Institute: Counterstrain. Carlsbad CA]

COUNTERSTRAIN FOR THE VISCERAL SYSTEM

The visceral system consists of our bodies internal organs like the lungs, stomach, liver, kidneys, intestines, and bladder. Its regular function is vital for us to breath, digest, and excrete wastes, but it also contributes in a myriad of other ways. The visceral system is innervated by the autonomic (parasympathetic and sympathetic) nervous system but also had its own enteric nervous system. This means that the gut can continue to digest without any input from the brain, and has led Dr. Michael Gershon to term the gut the 2nd brain due to the high level of cooperation and team work that must occur between the autonomic and enteric nervous systems for the body to function efficiently. Interestingly, inside the gut is also where dopamine is created. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that travels to the brain and stimulates emotions like motivation, reward, and pleasure. When visceral dysfunction is present it can effect our bodies, but also our brain function and general feelings of happiness.

Visceral dysfunction does not mean that there is pathology within the organ. It means that the fascia and suspensory ligaments that anchor the organ to other organs and to the skeleton are tight and restricted. It’s these fascial connections and suspensory support systems that we treat with Counterstrain. By releasing the fascia, we can not only free up the mobility of the viscera, but also the mobility of the spine, ribs, pelvis, and sacrum. Jean-Pierre Barral, a well-known osteopathic physician that specializes in visceral manipulation, terms the sacroiliac joint the trash can of the viscera. Meaning, visceral dysfunction can specifically project pain right to the sacroiliac joint. This is why many people with low back pain struggle to recover, because no one has ever addressed their visceral dysfunction. In addition to treating pain, visceral Counterstrain has also been shown to treat abdominal and digestive issues.

[Source: Jones Institute: Counterstrain. Carlsbad CA]

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