"Have you ever heard of fascia?" I glanced at my phone with a puzzled expression upon reading my friend's text. It was the first time I had ever heard of it, let alone that it was a part of my body, and truthfully I had no idea. But as someone who is always seeking out new advances in health and wellness, I was keen to know more, so I jumped online to do some research. That's when I uncovered the work of Ashley Black and her massage tool, the FasciaBlaster ($69 to $199), which has garnered a cult-like following among those looking to reduce the look of cellulite.
What Is Fascia Blasting?
Fascia blasting is a treatment that claims to reduce cellulite and smooth skin appearance. It uses a massage tool called a FasciaBlaster.
My first reaction was that this is just another infomercial gimmick, but as I read through the reviews and the science, I had to try it for myself. Even Toni Garrn (a former Victoria's Secret model who you'd think wouldn't have an ounce of cellulite) is a fan. According to Harper's Bazaar, Garrn has been working with Black for three years. "There's lots of bruising, but I love the immediate results," Garrn says. "My legs got smoother and smaller right away. It's like magic." Okay, okay, I'm sold. I purchased the Mini 2 ($65) just to get started.
As soon as it arrived in the mail, I turned it into a nightly self-care ritual. After my shower, I'd massage my legs up and down, and to begin with, it hurt, but I didn't experience the bruising I had read so much about online. I focused on the upper and inner parts of my thighs, where I had the most stubborn cellulite, and my calf muscles, where I typically have swelling from fluid retention. For transparency, I don't have a ton of cellulite by any means, but as I've gotten older (I'm 37), I have noticed that despite regular exercise (I rotate Tracy Anderson and Ballet Beautiful workouts with walking) and a healthy diet, I still couldn't get rid of the dimples just above my knee.
While I had my doubts, I'm a convert now. I honestly noticed a difference after just one week. Not only did it reduce the look of cellulite, but it felt good to massage my legs. After a few months of using it every other night or so, my legs are smoother and more toned in appearance. Not only that, but it worked wonders for my fluid retention. I can't believe how much it has helped, especially during my menstrual cycle when it's typically at its peak.
Meet the Expert
Ashley Black is the best-selling author and inventor of the myofascial tool phenomenon the FasciaBlaster.
Even though I experienced positive results, I still had a lot of questions. So I reached out to Black, and she gave us her insights for a complete FasciaBlaster review.
MYDOMAINE: What is fascia, and why do we need to keep it healthy?
ASHLEY BLACK: Fascia is the body's communication system. It is the connective tissue that holds us together, and it interacts with every other system. Fascia is protective by nature, and when the body senses an imbalance, injury, or misalignment, it signals the fascia to protect. The way it protects is by clamping down and adhering to fortify the area. While this action fixes a temporary issue, the long-term effect is that you have fascial adhesions and restrictions in your body that eventually lead to pain and misalignments.
Healthy fascia is pliable and glides smoothly, while unhealthy fascia is sticky and tight. Keeping your fascia healthy is essential for overall wellness and to have your body feeling and functioning at its best. My best-selling book The Cellulite Myth details the fascial paradigm, the four types of fascia, how to identify areas of fascial recoil, and how to maintain healthy fascia.
MD: When did you first discover cellulite was fascia and not fat?
AB: I've had an extensive career as a celebrity therapist and fascia expert, but I only made the connection between cellulite and fascia when one of my pro-athlete clients' girlfriend used the FasciaBlaster and texted me saying, "That stick got rid of my cellulite." It was one of those moments when your entire career flashes before your eyes and all of a sudden everything makes sense, and you just think to yourself, how did I miss that?
MD: How did you come up with the unique design?
AB: After working in bodywork for decades and owning multiple fascia therapy clinics, I had tried a variety of massage tools to help save my hands and release the fascia so I could get in there and do the skilled work but couldn't find something to fit my needs. It was then that I decided that I would have to invent a tool.
I only designed the FasciaBlaster for my immediate clients to continue their fascia restoration at home in between sessions and for myself and the therapists who worked with me. But when I saw the amazing results this tool was having on my users, I couldn't keep this knowledge to myself.
MD: How does it work?
AB: The FasciaBlaster's claws are designed to comb through the fascia and loosen the tightness and restriction. Fascial adhesions formed over time caused by injury, misalignments, or overuse can limit the body and its function, causing pain and discomfort. By releasing those adhesions with the FasciaBlaster, users can finally function at full capacity and improve their quality of life.
In 2019 scientific studies, the fascia restoration was seen via ultrasound imaging, showing the fascia smoothing out down to the deeper layers. We also saw a reduction in cellulite over the 90-day study, as well as an increase in the resting metabolic rate, and a decrease in subcutaneous fat and inflammation, while no signs of stress or damage to any organs or internal structures presented in the blood tests.
MD: Where can you use it on your body, and What's the Best Technique?
AB: I would venture to say that you can use it pretty much anywhere on your body. Of course, you'll want to make sure to only apply very light pressure on areas with lymph nodes or major arteries are, but as long as you stay light and brisk, I would say you can use it all over. We have video tutorials for every part of the body.
For optimum results, heat prior to your FasciaBlasting session, as this puts the fascia in a more malleable state and will enhance your results. After you've heated up the body, oil the area you're going to FasciaBlast, and rub the tool up and down or side to side—avoid circular motions. After your session, we recommend a light, massage-like motion called flushing. This gets the blood flowing to improve your recovery time.
MD: How often should you use it?
AB: When users first start out, they should ease into treatment at their own pace, just like starting an exercise program. Because of the inherent bruising, most new users should start out with just a few short sessions in their first week to allow their body time to adapt and recover between sessions. With continued, frequent use, the post–FasciaBlasting bruising will decrease, and you'll be able to FasciaBlast more often. We recommend three to five times per week for best results, but some users enjoy daily sessions.
MD: When should you use it?
When you use it is up to you. We have some best practices that we recommend, including using it after five to 15 minutes of cardio or exercise to internally heat the tissue, follow up after a sauna or a hot shower or bath to externally heat the tissue and make the fascia more pliable and ready for manipulation.
Heating the tissue increases circulation, puts the fascia in a more malleable state and prepares the tissue for optimal restoration. We recommend heating both internally with a few minutes of cardio, as well as using an external heat source during your FasciaBlasting. You can heat up with a hot shower or bath, sauna, steam room, or heating pads.
MD: Why does it cause bruising?
AB: The FasciaBlaster is a self-use tool, so the amount of pressure applied is up to each person. We recommend easing into treatment and maintaining a manageable pain level while staying light and brisk. Some bruising is common with FasciaBlasting and other soft tissue therapies because the tissue is remodeling. The bruising is a sign of blood rushing to the area to bring nutrients to repair the tissue.
If you're uncomfortable with experiencing bruising, my advice would be to stay surface level and incorporate a lot of active recovery after your session, which could include proper hydration, cold therapy, flushing and massage, and using arnica.
MD: How long do you have to do it for and will fascia return?
AB: Just like a diet or exercise program, maintenance is important for long-term fascia health. Most users will focus on their trouble areas for a few months, and once they achieve their desired results, they'll do a couple weekly sessions to maintain their results and continue making progress.
Since there are a multitude of factors that affect your fascia, it's important to be consistent with your fascial health regimen and do things on a regular basis to improve and maintain it. We've had many users who have had to discontinue FasciaBlasting due to health or time restrictions, but once they're able to get back on their regimen, they're able to get their fascia back to a healthy, smooth state.
MD: How long does it take to see results?
AB: Users will often feel an immediate increase in blood flow and less tension and tightness, but the visual results can take a few weeks or months, depending on your goals and starting point. Fascia restoration happens over time, and the users we've seen have the best results are the ones who commit to a healthy, fascia-friendly lifestyle. The study referenced above contains some before and after pictures from just a few of our users, and you can request to join our private women-only Facebook group called "FasciaBlasters" to hear from other users and see their live progress updates.
I just want to add that everyone needs to treat and address their fascia. Whether you choose to use the FasciaBlaster or not, do some kind of fascia treatment. Yoga, stretching, regular massages, and similar therapies will make a world of difference in the way you move, function, look, and feel. I would recommend having the FasciaBlaster to incorporate between sessions, but do whatever works for you.
Keen to know more? Read Black's best-selling book on fascia.
The FasciaBlaster is a Class 1 medical device. Research and product claims have not been reviewed by the US Food and Drug Administration. The editor's opinions in this article are her own.