What is Fascia?
Is a tissue system of the body to which relatively little attention has been given in the past. In a healthy and well-functioning body your fascia, also called connective tissue, is strong, fluid and flexible. Fascia is a connective tissue made of three main components:
Collagenous fibers, which are very tough and have little stretchability,
Elastic fibers, which are stretchable,
Polysaccharide gel complex which is we refer to as the ‘ground substance’.
Collagen and elastin work together to create a web-like formation of strong and flexible fibrils. The ground substance fills in the spaces in this web, lubricating the fibrils and cushioning the organs, and transmitting energy. These three aspects work as a harmonious system that ensures healthy movement, support, and protection of all body systems.
From a functional point of view, fascia is like as a continuous sheet of connective tissue that extends without interruption from the top of the head to the tip of the toes.
Fascia surrounds and influences every other tissue and organ of the body, including nerves, vessels muscle and bone. It is estimated that fascia has a tensile strength of almost 2,000 pounds per square inch.
How is it injured?
Trauma (falls, accidents, physical and emotional abuse), irregular posture, lack of motion, inflammatory reactions (autoimmune conditions, illnesses, and disease), surgical procedures can create myofascial restrictions. Fascia remodels according to your life and your experiences. Since we all lead individual lives, each person's fascia and fascial restrictions are unique to them. Unfortunately myofascial restrictions do not show up on any of the standard tests (x-rays, CAT scans, MRI’s etc) so these myofascial restrictions are often ignored or misdiagnosed but they are often the culprit for undiagnosable chronic pain.
It's all connected!
Since fascia permeates all regions of the body and is interconnected, when restrictions form in one area it can put tension (almost 2,000 pounds per square inch!) on adjacent pain-sensitive structures as well as structures in far-away areas. A restriction in one region can theoretically put a “drag” on the fascia in another direction. Think of this like the yarn in a sweater: if the sweater is pulled down in the front, it tightens around the neck, but the neck is not the source of the problem. This is why a postural analysis is done at the start of each treatment, allowing your skilled therapist to identify fascial strain patterns in other areas of the body which may affect the symptomatic area.
In addition to the tightness around pain sensitive tissues, the gel-like ground substance solidifies, making absorption of vital nutrients more difficult. Your body is now working much harder than it needs to in order to deliver essential nutrients throughout your body. Over time the fibrils of your fascial web will start to lose their elasticity and the shock absorption of your body diminishes.
The best way to bring your body back into its harmonious state of strength, flexibility, and protection is by releasing these fascial restrictions. After receiving Myofascial Release many people feel like a straight jacket has been removed, feel taller, have better circulation or feel lighter.