By Marcy Prendergast, LMT
The providers here at Washington Park Chiropractic have a lot of tools in our arsenal that help get our patients out of pain and back to doing what they love after an injury. This is because we value continuing education - it is something that sets our providers apart. For my credits last year, I decided to participate in a hands-on seminar to earn my FAKTR Certification. Let me tell you about it!
What is FAKTR?
A typical FAKTR treatment might include utilizing scraping instruments to treat a patient in the position that initially lead to the pain or dysfunction OR in a position that is likely to provoke their current symptoms. Sounds pretty far out right? Wait until we add movement, weight or resistance! To understand what FAKTR is, and hopefully get you excited about what it can do for you, I'll need to throw a couple of acronyms your way - bear with me!
FAKTR stands for Functional and Kinetic Treatment with Rehabilitation. The word "kinetic" is what makes this treatment technique special, as it refers to movement, but more on that later.
FAKTR is a treatment system that includes IASTM, or Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization. You may have heard of other forms of IASTM. These styles of injury treatment date all the way back to the 200s BC, with one of the first forms being Gua Sha, a modality still used by many TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) practitioners today. A modern equivalent to Gua Sha that you may have heard of, or even experienced here at Wash Park Chiro, is the Graston Technique. Though their aim is somewhat different, both Graston and Gua Sha are effective in promoting healing. Graston uses smooth metal instruments to glide/scrape over soft tissue and break up adhesions, typically early on in the inflammatory stage of an injury. Gua Sha is a similar scraping technique, but the implements are usually made of jade, rose quartz, or other stones, and the intent is focused on bringing toxins to the surface to be released. Another form of IASTM also has it's origins in TCM, but gained notoriety in recent years when used by Michael Phelps, several members of the US women's gymnastics team, and other high profile athletes. You probably guessed it - cupping. This method increases blood circulation to an injury site, which can reduce pain and inflammation and promote cell repair, and also causes the telltale circular markings seen on these athletes. There can be some element of movement with cupping, but generally it is the cups themselves being slid along the patient's skin, while the patient remains still.
Adding movement to IASTM
The creators of FAKTR realized that static soft tissue treatment, while beneficial, was not getting the results they wanted for their patients as quickly as they hoped. They realized that there would be many benefits to adding movement to IASTM. The benefits of movement had already been seen in other manual therapy treatment modalities such as pin and stretch or passive release, ART (Active Release Technique), and neuromuscular therapy. With these techniques, a muscle is stretched through a ROM (range of motion), either actively (by the patient) or passively (by the practitioner), with or without resistance, while the practitioner is working on the restricted tissue. The idea behind these techniques is that activating your muscle while it is being treated makes use of proprioception, or the awareness of your position and movement patterns. This effectively 'reprograms' your brain to the way your body is supposed to move. It has actually been shown to change nerve impulses to the brain, improving your ROM and encouraging proper biomechanics. These techniques can restore freedom of movement and prevent further postural deviation due to compensation up or down the chain from your injury site. For example, a patient with immobility in their right big toe might walk with a limp. When their gait changes, they end up getting achilles or calf pain, then their hip and low back start to tighten because they cannot make a full stride.
With all of that in mind, FAKTR came to life to combine assessment of an injury, manual therapy (both stationary and with movement), exercise and rehabilitation. It allows the practitioner to adapt to each patient's unique needs, and use the treatments and tools that will be most beneficial to them. The FAKTR system has been successful in getting high-level athletes and weekend warriors alike back to doing the activities they love, pain free, faster than manual therapy or IASTM alone.
How does it work?
Assessment is the first step to figuring out the most effective treatment plan for each patient. During the course, the instructor was adamant that "if you don't assess, it's just a guess". Part of our assessment is an in-depth conversation with you, the patient. "My shoulder hurts during exercise" doesn't give us enough information. We will ask follow up questions about which specific movements or actions provoke the pain, and take you through ROM tests to see where you have limitations or imbalances. This way, we can zero in on the specific muscle(s) that is causing your pain, and treat it using a variety of techniques to get the fastest results. In addition to manual therapy/massage, scraping, and cupping, FAKTR makes use of dynamic tape, joint compression flossing, resistance bands, and incorporates functional movement and load progression to speed healing. For a baseball pitcher who has pain in the throwing motion, the practitioner would first treat the area with the patient static - not moving. Then, they would have the pitcher move slowly through the throwing motion while treating the problem area. Finally, after some progress had been made with static and dynamic treatment, they would add load or resistance, making the muscle work harder. The pitcher might then hold a weighted ball or pull a resistance band while moving through their throw. This progression, which may occur during one treatment session or over the course of several sessions, is the key to faster results in the treatment room!
So, if you have a new or lingering injury that you think could benefit from the FAKTR method, come on in to see myself or Dr. Goodman as your certified FAKTR providers here at Wash Park Chiro!
Marcy Prendergast, LMT, specializes in Deep Tissue, Sports Massage, Trigger Point Therapy, Cupping, and Active and Passive Release Techniques. She is also a FAKTR Certified Provider. She enjoys working with patients to find the root of their pain and dysfunction and get them feeling and moving better.