Just what is this new wellness buzzword “fascia”?
We are hearing all about the reintroduction of fascial stretch techniques everywhere from wellness centres to pilates and yoga studios and the results are pretty awesome, but what exactly is fascia? And why have it treated?
“Fascia (/ˈfæʃə/, /ˈfæʃiə/; plural fasciae /ˈfæʃɪ.i/; adjective fascial; from Latin: “band”) is a band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs”.
Fascia is a sheath of fibrous tissue that surrounds all muscles and organs in the body.
It surrounds every singe muscle fibre, every group of muscle fibres and then every large muscle mass in the body and then surrounds the organs, veins, arteries and spinal cord too! It is sinewy and sticky (think clingfilm). Fascia plays an important role in the support and function of our bodies, since it surrounds and attaches to all structures. In the normal healthy state, the fascia is relaxed and wavy in configuration. It has the ability to stretch and move without restriction.
With trauma or injury and/or repetitive motion/postural issues and inflammation, fascia can lose its pliability. It becomes tight, restricted, and a source of tension to the rest of the body and in essence can adhere to itself and to other parts of the body, creating loss of range of motion and ongoing postural issues that aren’t mechanically based. In other words, your body can be stuck in ways it shouldn’t and doesn’t need to be.
Fascial restrictions can exert excessive pressure causing all kinds of symptoms producing pain, headaches or restriction of motion. Fascial restrictions affect our flexibility and stability, and are a determining factor in our ability to withstand stress and perform daily activities.
Myofascial Release and Fascial Stretching can greatly increase flexibility and reduce the chance of injury. It is a series of techniques involving applying gentle sustained pressure into the myofascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion, giving this “clingfilm” a workout! By stretching the fascial chains you allow the body to move more freely and work at an optimal level which have a huge impact on your overall movement, range of motion, flexibility and postural patterns.
You should consider integrating some fascial stretch techniques into your massage routine if you feel stuck in a specific area, experience limited or reduced range of motion, tightness on one side of the body versus the other, postural issues (think forward head posture, rounded shoulders, lean to one side) or if you’re someone who can’t seem to get a full inhalation of breath. These techniques are of no harm to you, purely beneficial.
Lindsey MacNeil, RMT is a Certified Myofascial Release Practitioner and incorporates her skills directly into her Massage Therapy treatments as requested/necessary!
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