Treatments for fascial dysfunction


The official definition of Fascial Counsterstrain is "a skilled, passive manipulation of the body's deep fascial proprioceptors (nerves that sense length and tension of tissue) with the goal of normalizing abnormal protective reflexes."   Put more simply, Fascial Counterstrain involves precise positioning of the body's tissues to remove all stress on the involved tissue to allow the nervous system to "realize" it can release the protective reflex dysfunctional "spasm" of the fascia.  


It is currently believed that Fascial Counterstrain works via decompression of pain and movement receptors in the fascia. Once slackened in precisely the right angle, the reflex releases, relaxing tissue and allowing trapped metabolites (chemical waste products) to dissipate or "flush out."  This removes both the mechanical and chemical irritation that was maintaining the dysfunction.  This means that Counterstrain is an “indirect” or pain free manual therapy technique that relaxes fascial/muscle spasms.  This relaxation can result in “unlocking” restricted joints through reflex mechanisms. No aggressive manipulation or “thrust” techniques are needed. In essence, with this technique, the body corrects itself instead of being “forced” into a "correction" which is often temporary.


To read more about the Fascial Counterstrain techniques, visit by clicking the link below and view the "For Patients" page.   To learn more about the originator, Brian Tuckey, PT, OCS, JSCSCI, visit by clicking the link below and view the "For Practitioners" page.  Also available on this page is a pilot study video which shows the diameter of a vein that is engorged to nearly twice its normal size by backpressure from a fascial constriction, and how it normalizes within minutes after Brian provides the necessary treatment.  The link to this video is under "Tools to Learn More" near the bottom of the page.  




Origin of Counterstrain


In 1955 Dr. Lawrence Jones D.O. FAAO, discovered that positioning a patient for comfort could correct complex spinal disorders. The accidental discovery occurred after he helped a patient with severe low back pain try to find a comfortable sleeping position.  This patient had previously shown no improvement with medical treatments from medical doctor, chiropractor and Dr. Jones to that point.  Dr. Jones noted in his book that he had tried all of the manipulations and treatments that he knew without success and "only stubborness prevented me from admitting I was stumped."  


After a period of experimentation, a position was identified in which the patient was completely comfortable (on his back, knees rolled up toward his head and rotated off to one side).  After a 20 minute trial in this position (to see if this was a viable sleeping position,) the patient was able to stand fully erect for the first time in several months. Shortly thereafter the patient made a full recovery.  Jones was amazed and began attempts to reproduce this effect with other patients.   He was successful and named the technique Strain and Counterstrain based on the concept that the body suffered a "strain" that caused the dysfunction, and he applied a "Counterstrain" to the body to correct the dysfuction.  Dr. Jones then identified that there were specific, consistent, palpable "tender points" or small areas of extreme tenderness that could be used to identify the presence of these dysfunctions.  Through the remainder of his career Dr. Jones identified approximately 200 dysfunctions and treatments utilizing his positional release concept.  These treatments are still taught through the Jones Institute.


Over the past approximately 20 years, Brian Tuckey, PT, OCS, JSCCI developed Fascial Counterstrain, an unique and natural progression of Dr. Jones's groundbreaking work.  With the knowledge that contracted fascia is actually the primary problem, Brian was able to identify the exact tissue related to each tender point, and also greatly expand the number of tender points and treatments due to greater specificity of the exact tissues involved.  This has provided more complete corrections of dysfunction and symptoms for patients.  Brian continues to "map out" the possible dysfunctions that can occur in the body and is hopeful to finally complete this "life's work" within the next few years.   


Total Motion Release is an active exercise concept developed by Tom Delanzo-Baker, MPT following an unexpected dramatic improvement while treating a patient.   He describes having minimal improvement with a patient's leg pain and weakness despite all of his best efforts until he tried having her exercise her OTHER leg.  Why did this work?  Clinically I have found that exercising with the opposite side of the body appears to repetitively shorten/compress fascial dysfunction(s) that are limiting the body's ability to stretch or shift weight.  This repetitive shortening/compression appears to have a neural relaxation effect and possibly an enhanced circulatory effect that in combination "dampens" the dysfunction(s).  Keep in  mind that "opposite side" could mean not only left to right, but top to bottom or back to front.  When appropriate, the patient can reproduce the effect and "treat" their own dysfunction through pain free exercises that results in repetitive neural "re-training."   Use the link below to watch a video of how Tom discovered this effect and read about the development of this exercise process: