***Beware – this post is a total fascia geekfest, if you are not prepared to deal with that, read a different post! Also, any factual errors are my faulty memory, not faulty presentations.***
Today I had the absolute pleasure of beginning my time at the 3rd gathering on scientists and clinicians who have an abiding interest in fascia in all its varied and wonderous forms. I began the day with a flight to Vancouver and a slightly late arrival – but I got before the real geek-out stuff began, so it is all good.
After some general introductory speeches we dove right into the first keynote speaker. A anatomist from Temple University, Mary Barbe spoke to us about her research in duplicating repetitive stress injuries (RSI’s) in rats and the tissue changes that occurred in response to various types (high, low and negligable intensities) of work. How could this possibly relate to massage therapy you ask? Well the road hasn’t fully been built, but knowing that rest doesn’t always fix the problem and that inflammatory processes have likely come and gone prior to anyone presenting at my office (they peak between week 4 and 8 of performing the task) after months or years of a repetitive task, provides me with insight into what interventions and homecare might best benefit my clients. simply knowing that there are significant connective tissue changes that occur within weeks of undertaking an repetitive task shouts loud and clear about the importance of the fascial work that I am a huge advocate for.
After a quick break we moved our second speaker, Michael Kjaer, whose topic was the impact of exercise on tendon tissues. We discovered that exercise (and not a lot, 1x creates 72 hours of increased collagen production which is what builds your tendons) increases the density of tendons. Interestingly, there seems to be little issue with maladaptive changes in the tissue to repetitive exercise as there is to repetitive work activity (there’s a thinker). More surprisingly, it turns out men exhibit greater tendon density increase than women, and that within the female population women taking oral contraceptive exhibit even lower levels of tendon response than the general population. Further interest in gender issues came when it was revealed that in post-menopausal women being on hormone replacement heightened tendon response. Hmmm, that estrogen, funny stuff.
After a break for lunch we broke into three groups for presentations on specific areas of fascial research. I chose the “biomechanics” room and got to learn about different means of trying to empirically measure different types of mechanical interventions. From pressure sensitive pads on fingers to rather medieval looking table devices this part of the afternoon was an interesting insight into the various ways we can try to research the interventions we apply with our hands and their outcomes. I also gained an interesting insight into the world of research. Failure, or rather, not proving your hypothesis fully or at all. Even in those cases it was interesting to see how that research could be used to launch into better studies.
Our next keynote speaker, Albert Banes, was a doozy. I am pretty sure I learned so interesting things, but they went by so fast I think I might be lucky to catch up with them sometime next week – after reading the paper a few times! He seemed to be summarizing quite an extensive array of studies in the field of fascia research and had some very interesting things to say – and showed us pictures of some lab grow tendons, but it was a lot in just a little time
The final event of the afternoon, academically, was a panel of four clinicians presenting of “scars and adhesions”. One of the exciting bits of us BC RMT’s was having one of our own on the panel – Susan Chapelle of Squamish, BC who talked about the benefits of integretive treatment and the need for increased research that included a manual therapy aspect. She was preceeded by a surgeon, Dr. Michael Diamond, who discussed post-surgical adhesions (things sticking together that shouldn’t after surgery) which I was surprised to find has a 65-100% incidence rate in abdominal surgeries (though they are not limited to those surgeries). We were then treated to a new movie by Jean Claude Guimberteau, a French physician, who has now produced several in vivo movies of fascia using endoscopic techniques (his first being “Strolling Under the Skin”, presented at the first fascial congress). We also had a naturopathic doctor, Hal Brown, present some of his case studies of the impact of the injection of aenasthetic under the skin into scars to improve function in both near and far tissues.
The day finished with a welcome reception that was very well attended that allowed us all to review and discuss our reactions and thoughts regarding the days flood of knowledge. I can hardly wait for day two….