Fascia (noun) [ fash-ee-uh ]
- a band or sheath of connective tissue investing, supporting, or binding together internal organs or parts of the body.
Now, let’s talk fascia.
Healthy fascia is the ground substance that creates intricate webbing and support for all other structures. Connective tissue is our sensitive, bungee cord network for efficient, optimal movement and communication throughout our body. If you are nerding out right now, Robert Schleip has written a great clinical article “Fascia As A Sensory Organ: Clinical Applications”. It begins by telling the reader how fascia is 6 times more sensitive than muscle tissue.
So, what’s really talking when you are in pain?
Pain can arise from many different sources:
- Something that may have happened recently.
- A long-standing issue.
- I don’t know what happened. It hurts here or when I do this.
In most cases, there is pain causing dysfunction that needs to be addressed.
What is Myofascial Release Therapy?
What you may have heard more commonly, as you receive different treatments, is Myofascial Release Therapy. Dr. Bauer from the Mayo Clinic describes this as “(a) technique (that) focuses on pain believed to arise from myofascial tissues — the tough membranes that wrap, connect, and support your muscles.” Fascia is often referred to as a “sweater”. If you tug one broken thread it gathers and starts to cinch everything around it. Usually, dysfunctional patterns are looked at more globally when being treated as adhesions can spread and lockdown any tissue. Dragging everything around it into the abyss! The fascial therapist is assessing you for adhesions, congestion that may not be allowing you or your insides to move efficiently which can cause pain and dysfunction. With treatment, your tissue can hydrate and become more mobile allowing all your systems to function better.
Remember that with the release of your tissues you have fewer issues!
How can I move my own fascia?
One of my fascial integrated teaching mentors, Heather Gittens, RMT said, “Nothing will change if you don’t apply a load to the barrier of resistance, no farther. If we apply too much it will bounce back.” A key ingredient for maintaining your health is mobility, especially after treatment. Keep your new end ranges, your new barriers of resistance – the increased space created in your body. One of my favorite ways to do this is through dynamic movement, opening up my head to toe lines so that my body can move freely. Flow, if you will. Movement allows for your joints and tissues to hydrate. Traumatic injury, a sedentary lifestyle, work-related posture, and even poor body mechanics when moving (yes, including your workouts) can add or create pain tension cycles.
It’s important to know why you are doing what you are doing. What’s moving? Where are you feeling it? Are your points of strength compensating for your weaknesses? What are your strategies? This is where quality before quantity comes in.
Wendy Leblanc-Arbuckle, from the Pilates Centre Austin, has some great YouTube videos that I love to do for decongesting, opening up my tension lines which will help with realigning and creating space in my body allowing me to move more efficiently with less or even no discomfort. Check out her video about “Flossing Your Fascial Spine”. For those of you at a desk all day this is a great break for your body. There can’t be enough said about mindful movement.
As well, we have a great blog on movement in 3 dimensions with sample exercises to access those fascial lines. Check it out here.
My end game here is really to help you understand how important it is for your body tissue to hydrate (not just with water) and decongest which in turn greatly affects your health and mobility. Everything from the inside of your bones, organs, muscles, joints, skin, things in between, layering, wrapping around, channeling through and all that holds it together (including your fascia!) must move independently of one another. Slide and glide. The mobility of your insides and outsides. Work on efficient movement patterns. You are the master moving the machine. Make it a well-oiled one!
If you need help mobilizing your fascia, book now with one of our experienced Reformotiv therapists!
Written by: Mai Holmes, Registered Massage Therapist