What is fascia?
Fascia is an extremely strong, liquid filled, three dimensional web of tissue that acts as both protective and connective medium between essentially everything in your entire body! It connects and infuses muscles, skin, bone, organs to their surrounding tissue etc.
Fascia basically holds us together, letting all of our tissues slide without restriction and simultaneously protecting and holding the tissues right where the need to be! Pretty amazing stuff!
Appearance and function of fascia:
Fascia appears like cellophane or a spider web. Thicker layers of fascia are visible to the naked eye. You have probably seen fascia when cutting chicken breast, for instance. Its the white-ish membrane or web like substance between layers of the meat.
On the microscopic level this web appears as an intricate three dimensional web. Where this gets truly amazing is when the body moves. This fascial web moves in a way that can scarcely be described. The individual 'filaments' of the fascia will move and slide along each other: dividing and joining, separating and collapsing, all with perfect form and structure so that the body's movements can be supported without strain and protected from improper movement, stress and overextension. Fascia is also hollow. It has fluid that runs throughout it, and as such needs to remain properly hydrated.
We have all heard how important it is to stay hydrated. Now we discover a new reason here! When fascia gets dehydrated it becomes stiff, rigid and movement is much more restricted and painful. This can lead to a host of other problems.
Think of the difference between working with a sponge that has dried out, and one that has not. Its pretty hard for the dried out sponge to be able to bend and fold, stretch or come back to its original position.
Physical trauma can be stored in the fascia!
Typical example of physical trauma (restriction) stored in the fascia:
Lets say you were in a car accident. You had severely bruised ribs and whiplash. The fascia is damaged along with the bones and muscles. This three dimensional spider web now has restrictions and a lack of ability to move smoothly and throughout its normal range. You feel aches and pains and have restricted movement even after your bones and muscles have healed. The restrictions in the fascia must be healed as well! Conventional physical therapy and massage do not address the fascial layers.
How can this healing take place? What method will release the fascia and let it move normally again and let the fluid inside of it flow once again? The method is called Myofascial Release.
How is Myofascial Release achieved?
By putting gentle, sustained holding pressure to the fascia, the facial layer has the ability to slowly release and return to its normal function and fluid range of motion. In this way, the whole body is effected. Remember, your fascia is a single, inter-connected web that runs from the tip of your head to the tips of your toes and everywhere in between!
Why is this important?
As mentioned earlier, when the fascia becomes hardened and/or restricted (this includes fascia involved in scar tissue) a reduced range of motion is realized. Body parts no longer move through their full range of motion, organs are constricted, tension builds in the affected and surrounding areas. This creates a situation that can have a cascade effect on our health. Dis-ease.
When the body can have fuller range of motion with less restriction, it has a powerful ability to take that forward progress and move it further. You have heard the famous physics law that states: "A body at rest tends to stay at rest, and a body in motion tends to stay in motion." This is true for the healing of the fascial layer as well. The body recognizes when fascial restrictions are released, and the cascade effect to the rest of the fascial web is enabled.
How does one care for their fascia?
Getting Myofascial Release sessions can have a profound effect on ones health. Sometimes healing can take place in one session. More likely several.
Things that determine healing time can be: How long ago did the trauma happen? What treatments have been utilized since? Has there been any additional trauma to the same area? What other factors are involved? Is the patient on a prescription drug protocol? Do they stretch properly and exercise? Are they wiling to do self care at home? Is the patient invested in the healing process? A host of other factors can come into play while healing is progressing.
You will also be shown self care techniques that help support this process and hasten recovery times and effectiveness.