Simply put, fascia is the connective tissue that infuses and surrounds every cell in your body. It’s responsible for connecting, stabilizing and protecting the structures it surrounds by reacting to movements and physical demands placed on your joints, muscles, bones and organs. The fascia is a system of clear water filled micro-tubules and sealed elastic compartments. These micro-tubules are designed in such a way that when the fascia is challenged by strong forces, such as with an injury, the micro-tubules spread those forces throughout the whole body via the water filled tubules, which then help to prevent severe injury. Trouble begins when the fascia is chronically dehydrated by excessive or repetitive compression, pulling forces or frictions and the forces can no longer be transferred due to the sluggish and depleted nature of the fascia. Chronic injury results. I know what you’re thinking, can’t we just drink more water and prevent the chronic injury? Nope. This is not just about increasing the water in the micro-tubules; it’s about getting the water moving again.
Enter myofascial release techniques.
By applying myofascial release techniques, we can encourage water back into the micro-tubules and which in turn can begin to hydrate the micro-tubules and elasticize the fascia structures which can relieve pain and allow the fascial structures and surrounding tissue to function again.
📷It is important to note that because fascia is one sheath of tissue surrounding all of the cells in your body, when it is damaged in one area, it can affect other areas of your body causing a sort of domino effect. For example, when a runner goes for a run, the impact from the feet hitting the pavement can cause compression to the spine. This repetitive compression can create tensile forces to the fascia that causes the fascia to dehydrate with constant impact. In this example, it is common that this type of response happens when the muscles surrounding the back are not stabilizing the joints enough to handle the impact. The fascia responds by stabilizing the muscles and joints with its tensile strength and by spreading the impact to surrounding fascial structures via the fluid-filled micro-tubules. Repetitive impact such as this will eventually chronically dehydrate the fascia and damage will result. Since fascia is only one sheath of tissue, restrictions like this can also pull on the remaining lines of fascia causing pain in other areas of the body, such as the plantar fascia (plantar fasciitis), knee pain (patella femoral syndrome), neck and head pain (headaches, torticollis) etc. Once the fascia is re-hydrated in the initial problem area, in this case, the back, the distal fascial tension will usually release it’s hold on the distal fascial structures. This is another reason it is so important to find the cause of every issue before treating. If the treatment only focused on the pain in the distal areas, the problem would never get better and more likely would get worse due to the extra inflammation caused from aggressive treatment techniques to the local area.
Fascial techniques are applied with a steady moderate pressure to the tissues to encourage release of the tension. No oil or glide is used on the skin as that would prevent the grip needed on the fascia to re-hydrate the tissue. During a treatment, the skin is used as a tool to feel the fascial structures below. Some pain to the areas treated may occur while the fascia re-hydrates. Once the fascia renews its form, the pain dissipates and there is a notable difference in the movement and flow of the surrounding tissues
Fascia is an amazing structure and we are certainly not at the level of understanding about fascia that we want to be but what we do know so far can be extremely helpful to most people living with chronic pain. If you find yourself limited by severe pain and tension, myofascial release may be what you need to get back to a healthy and balanced life.