FST : “Just get on the f***ing table.”
“Just get on the f***ing table.” This has turned into one of our unofficial slogans at The Studieaux, but not because we have bad attitudes. I could talk about Fascial Stretch Therapy all day long, but true understanding is experiential- you have to feel it on your body. That said, I’d love to tell y’all more about what it is and how I got into it.
Fascial Stretch Therapy, or FST, is a gentle, assisted stretching technique done on a treatment table by a certified practitioner, BUT it is So. Much. More. People I talk to often hear the word “fascia” and say, “oh yeah, I think I know of that”, but they’re usually thinking of myofascial release or something of that nature (I’m the only therapist in the Tampa Bay Area, so it’s unlikely that they know about FST unless they’ve had it somewhere else). Many are not yet familiar with fascia. In case you fall into that category, fascia is a type of connective tissue in the body. As a connective tissue, it holds the cells that make up our body together and actually gives the body its recognizable physical shape so that we are not just walking cellular blobs. If you’ve ever taken any level of traditional anatomy course, you might think that muscles and bones, individually segmented and memorized, are the key players in musculoskeletal function and that fascia is little more than an afterthought, a placeholder. In reality, fascia is arguably one of the most important tissues in the body. At minimum, it is much more important than it is generally given credit for.
If you can imagine healthy fascia looking almost cotton candy-like, a sticky, wet, webbing, then you can visualize the transition to unhealthy fascia. Through injury, wear and tear, dehydration, poor nutrition, chronic stress, or any combination of these factors, the fascia can become dehydrated, tight, stuck together, and even start to cause pain in areas where the dysfunction starts to compress or pull on other tissues. I often show new potential clients the visual analogy of a twisted up t shirt- not only does it show how pain can be referred, making FST’s full-body approach so effective, but it also illustrates how FST works to kind of gently shake and finesse out the wrinkles from the edges. As the creator of the method, Ann Frederick, says, FST “brings the body back home.” Doesn’t that sound nice? It is.
Fascia works closely with our energetic body. As an owner of a yoga studio where we talk A LOT about energy, chakras, and the energetic body and its connection to physical ailments and manifestations, I LOVE how well FST lends itself to becoming energetic work almost inseparably from the physical bodywork. Since fascia touches every cell in the body, it acts as a transmission network for chemical and electrical signals associated with emotions that we experience. This is why, for example, with chronic stress, as the fascia transmits and records these same signals repeatedly, we may start to see evidence in our movement patterns and posture (i.e. “hunched over” appearance). This is also why we may experience emotional releases in practices that manipulate and move the fascia, such as FST and yoga.
I came upon FST quite by accident (except not- no accidents, right?). I worked as a Registered Nurse in the hospital for years and knew I wanted out. I had been doing various yoga trainings for some time and loved it, but I wasn’t quite sure how to marry the two paths and was feeling quite stuck. At one of my later yoga trainings, I had a beautiful chat on the beach with my teacher, Crystal, and told her how I was feeling. Her now husband, Eric, is a Fascial Stretch Specialist and was an instructor at the institute, and she suggested that I look into taking the training as a way to round out my off