Athletic Injury/Post-Event Recovery RX

Jessica Farrell, PT, DPT Counterstrain Portland
Portland, Oregon


Repetitive motion injuries make up 50% of all athletic injuries. When an athlete is performing the same movement over and over again the body can create a dysfunctional movement pattern. This often causes soft-tissue injuries such as tendonitis and bursitis. For example, with baseball, repetitive throwing and batting require the athlete to continually rotate the same direction in an explosive movement. This can cause a postural rotation through the thoracic spine (upper back) and the shoulder on the throwing side to sit too far forward. This may cause the upper back to be flexed (slouched) with the shoulder blade and head pulled forward. Throwing force combined with repetition often causes this dysfunction to persist and lead to significant pain and muscle tightness. A right-handed pitcher may complain of right shoulder and/or elbow pain, eventually causing neck pinching on the right side as well. This affects quality of life and athletic performance. Common medical diagnosis includes rotator cuff strain, shoulder impingement, and/or elbow tendonitis. These conditions can respond well to Fascial Counterstrain and both the athlete and coach may note immediate changes. Many athletes find that ongoing Fascial Counterstrain treatment keeps performance level high and recovery quick. They can continue treatment for performance enhancement even after recovery from their injury.


In looking at shoulder or elbow pain, it is important to address all aspects that can influence the position and movement of the joint. In this case, the cervical spine (neck), thoracic spine (upper back), and ribs need to move well and be in good alignment for the shoulder to sit properly. Fascial Counterstrain addresses the deep fascia (connective tissue) of multiple body systems to improve mobility and postural alignment, as well as increase blood flow and decrease inflammation. For example, repetitive throwing can strain a variety of structures including fascia wrapped around muscles, as well as the arteries, veins and nerves lying along these muscles, and the supporting ligaments of the spine. When these are threatened, the body will create a reflexive protective spasm in the fascia around them to protect from further damage. This reflexive protective spasm shortens the fascia and causes tightness, movement restriction, postural changes, and compromised local blood flow resulting in inflammation and pain. Fascial Counterstrain addresses these protective spasms with gentle positioning, glides and compressions to help the nervous system reset and release the protective spasm. Fascial Counterstrain treatment is very gentle and very specific. There is a map of the fascial dysfunction in the body on the head which we call the cranial scan. Your practitioner will use the cranial scan by feeling specific areas of your head to determine which system is involved as well as which specific part of the body. Local tender points are then used to determine the specific structure affected. Once the dysfunctional tissue is found, positioning of the body, compressions and/or tissue glides are used to shorten the tissue and mechanically unload it. This takes tension out of the tissue and allows the protective reflex to release, resulting in normalizing tissue tone and optimizing blood flow and nerve conduction. Thus, the Fascial Counterstrain practitioner aims to find the root cause of the dysfunction.


“ After and appointment with Laura, I feel like my muscles are relaxed and moving correctly. I play baseball year round and sometimes feel that my pitching or swing is off. Usually she finds that something in my ribs or pelvis is causing the issue. After treatment, I find that my accuracy has improved in both areas. With the amount of training I put my body through, I am grateful to have Laura to put everything back together again” Keegan – age 15