Our Person of the Month for this issue of JMS is David Lesondak, BCSI, ATSI, FST, FFT. David is an exceptional therapist, author, educator and international speaker. His field of expertise is fascia, its role in the human body and clinical ways to address fascial tension.
In 2018 David published exceptional textbook about fascia for all therapists involved in somatic rehabilitation, ‘Fascia: What it is and Why it Matters’. Readers may find more about David’s current and future projects at www.fasciamatters.health
Editor in Chief, Dr. Ross Turchaninov
Here is our interview with:
David Lesondak, BCSI, ATSI, FST, FFT
JMS: How did you get into Massage Therapy?
D. Lesondak: Massage Therapy was always something I just did. I didn’t think about it. It was instinctive to me but it wasn’t until I was living in Florida and going to school for television production that I discovered there was something called massage therapy that I began to take it seriously. That was when I realized it was a thing.
After a number of different careers and different lives, the massage thing was the one thing all my “failures” had in common, so I thought: “Why not go and learn about that?” – It seemed to be a good way to make a living while I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life! (Laughs).
So, I went to the Community College to study and soon was teaching some of the evening non-credit courses. I took some clinical courses but when I discovered fascia-oriented bodywork that was it! I knew that was what I always wanted to be doing, everything snapped into place for me.
JMS: Tell our readers why you think fascia plays such an important role in the normal functioning of the human body
D. Lesondak: Oh, wow. Okay. Um, you do know I answered that question, right? It took me about 176 pages to do and it got turned into a book!
Alright, seriously now. Fascia, along with the nerves and the blood vessels, is the one of the three tissue/systems that has the potential to interact with all the other tissues and systems of the body. It literally surrounds and penetrates everything else in the body. If you look at the collagen network of the muscle and the collagen network of the liver, they are more similar than different.
Fascia, the collagen, elastin, along with the more fluidic ground substance, is biodynamic. It responds to supply and demand – that’s great for developing stamina and new, desirable body patterns; and it’s problematic after injury, accident, surgery, and so on. We adapt to patterns that are less than optimal and those adaptations beget other adaptations, or compensations if you prefer. This happens because, along with being a shock absorber, fascia is a force transmission system.
Fascia is the key to changing these adaptations in a more permanent way. And in my practice that is what I am going for as much as possible, resolution of the problem so that you only come back when you have to, not because you need too. And I only see this kind of consistency and reliability with fascia-oriented therapy.
The fascia is very important to the “felt sense” of proprioception and interception, our inner body sensations. So along with getting better working with fascia gives people the opportunity to deepen their relationship with their own physicality and truly learn to trust their body again. It’s a wonderful thing.
JMS: In 2018 you published an excellent book: Fascia. What It Is And Why It Matters (Lesondak D. 2018. Fascia. What It Is And Why It Matters. Handspring Publishing, Edinburg). What was the driving force that guided you while you worked on this publication?
D. Lesondak: Getting it done was the driving force. I had a contract! And also, thank you for the compliment.
I’d been dreaming about a book like this for years. I wanted something that could accurately communicate the science of fascia and relevancy of the science to manual therapy in a memorable way. And I just wasn’t seeing a book like that out there. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, maybe you’re supposed to create it. I’d been writing a blog that was well-received, and that was a good place for honing my writing voice. So, I knew I could do it, the actual writing process.
I’d been giving lectures on the topic to medical audiences for years, but I was also talking with patients about it. They wanted to know how what we were doing worked, and how it was different from other manual medicine treatments they had received. I was confident that I could split that difference and write something that connected with the non-specialty reader, make sense to clinicians, and satisfied the academic needs of the doctors and scientists.
So, it was a combination of all those things, and that I was afraid if I didn’t someone else would beat me to the punch. I guess I have a competitive side.
JMS: Tell our readers about your educational projects.
D. Lesondak: Currently I offer a series of courses centered around resolving common complaints, like low back pain and “tech neck” and other problems of our digital age. They are anatomically specific in application but global in strategy. It’s great to make a problem area feel better, but to sustain that change the therapist needs to be able to analyze what’s going on. What is the complaint(s)/problem? Where is the body compensating? What are the likely anatomical units involved? You know, muscles, ligaments and such. And then connect the dots between all those elements in their patient’s body and in a way that experientially re-educates the patient without being pedantic. That’s what I teach and that’s what my students get.
JMS: What educators and/or researchers are you cooperating with and suggest our readers be familiar with?
D. Lesondak: Well quite a few come to mind… Robert Schleip, Peter Huijing, Jaap van Der Wal, Andry Vleeming, to name a few. Anything by Carla Stecco and Antonio Stecco.
The thing you have to keep in mind is that science writing has a formal style to it, and it can seem quite dense at times. So, you have to approach this material with that in mind. Scientific literature is its own genre and it has a particular style, rhythm and conventions. Tropes, as we say in pop culture.
Now I’m happy to say that some of these people are working with me on my next venture, Fascia, Function, and Medical Applications. This is a textbook from Taylor and Francis coming out sometime in 2020 (no date yet). It’ll be the first book of its kind aimed at educating the healthcare community about fascia. The guiding principle is: how might this knowledge change the way the reader diagnoses, treats, or refers out their patients?
To be able to work with the top researchers, many of whom I’ve known for years, and create the batting order for it, sherpa it and guide it… It’s been so much fun putting this together. Of course. it’s going to have that more formal, academic style.
At the same time, I’ve recruited some people who are newer to the rigors of academic writing but are subject matter experts. And you need solid critical thinking skills to be an expert. These folks have that, and it’s been rewarding to see them go for it and dig deeper and reach farther.
I’m in the editing process right now, and across the board everyone is knocking it out of the park. I am so proud of them and so happy for the project.
JMS: What is your favorite type of body work?
D. Lesondak: Whatever I can get. Whatever good, sensitive bodywork I can get. Seriously. I’m saying that word a lot in this interview, aren’t I?
When I was teaching in Amsterdam, I got an amazing and much needed Thai massage. On a recent trip to Boulder it was a fantastic craniosacral session. A good reflexology session puts me in a deep trance. Acupuncture, too. Of course, I have bias toward good fascial bodywork…
JMS: Define “good”.
D. Lesondak: Sensitive, listening… I want somebody who, with whatever skill set they employ, have a dialogue with my body. A conversation without words that leaves me feeling better than when I walked in. Of course, I’m talking about ongoing, proactive, “wellness” type care here. If it’s for an injury, or something remedial, well that depends on the nature of the injury. And how recent. Or not recent.
JMS: What advice can you give to our readers?
D. Lesondak: 1) Stay curious, stay open to new experiences and new approaches. And it’s okay to take a seminar, try a new approach or technique and decide “Okay, that’s not for me.” Totally fine. Now, no one wants to spend their CE money and have an experience like that, but it’s okay. Sometimes finding out what you don’t want to do becomes a great way to further define what you do want to do. And ask the questions you’re afraid to ask, because I guarantee you if you have that question, so do other people.
2) Accept responsibility. If you have a client or patient who has an adverse reaction to your treatment, own it. Apologize and own it. Do that first. That keeps your relationship with your patient solid. It’s as simple as saying, “Gee, I’m sorry. That certainly wasn’t the outcome I was going for, and definitely not the one you came here for.” They feel heard, and you had the integrity to address the elephant in the room. Now you can go about the task of getting things back on the rails.
I can’t tell you how many times I have patients tell me about doctors, PTs, and even other body-workers who essentially blamed the client for their own mistakes. So don’t be that guy.
3) If you are the curious sort, fascinated by science and love asking questions and getting to the fundamental “why” of things, read “Advice of a Young Investigator” by Santiago Ramony Cajal. It’s required reading.
Category: Person of the Month
Tags: 2019 Issue #3