The fascial system is a web-like network of flexible tissue that supports and holds every organ, blood vessel, bone, nerve fiber and muscle in place. It's this delicate yet powerful fabric that keeps our bodies in place, without it we couldn't do anything! But for something so integral to your health and well being (and yes even aesthetic appeal), fascia is important to understand.
Fascia is categorized into three primary types: Superficial, Deep, and Visceral.
The superficial fascia, which is mostly associated with the skin. This deep layer gives you your outward shape and helps to maintain it!
The deep fascia, which is mostly associated with the muscles and bones. This layer of dense fibrous connective tissue surrounds individual muscle groups to provide them with functional movement in coordination with one another.
Visceral fascia is the tissue that surrounds your internal organs and suspends them in place, allowing both structure and movement.
What does Fascia do?
Fascia covers muscles and keeps it in the correct position.
Fascia helps maintain the body's movement by allowing one muscle or fiber to move independently from its neighbor.
When muscles slide against each other, the fascia provides a lubricated surface that allows for smooth movement.
Improved flexibility is often the result of a well-designed program that focuses on muscles and their fascia. When you are inactive for long periods, due to injury or idleness your fascia will start binding together which prevents them from moving freely against each other leading to stiffness and tightness in those areas. Regular stretching keeps us healthy by keeping our bodies' connective tissues pliable and strong so we can perform daily activities being carried out with minimized pain.
What can cause poor fascia health?:
A lack of exercise can lead to low muscle tone and poor posture.
Improper healing after injuries and surgeries.
High levels of mental stress and over-exercising.
Inflammation caused by unhealthy foods, drugs, autoimmune and environmental factors.
That doesn't sound good! I'm glad you're here to help me fix this problem.
When you get injured, your body creates collagen to heal the damaged tissue. The clumps of fibers stick together without having their natural alignment and are “stuck-together” because they're not connected properly with other tissues like muscle or fascia which can create tension when pulled upon by another object during movement. Sometimes myofascial fibers become fused together with surrounding tissues in abnormal ways, and those spots are called "adhesions."
A normal adhesion would be at the site of an injury or microtrauma, but sometimes they form elsewhere on your body too, like where there's been chronic stress placed upon it over time by repeated movements that have caused damage deep within muscle tissue itself. Adhesions are one of the most common causes for chronic pain.
Tight fascia will cause your body to shift out of alignment, causing poor posture, increasing pressure on muscles and joints. Over time this can lead to not only discomfort but also pain. The restricted movement may cause loss of hydration because you're blocking blood flow because of tension-filled areas, something we want to avoid when trying to achieve our fitness goals.
How to treat adhesions
Massaging your fascia can help reduce adhesion pain by improving fluid flow to the bound tissues. Movement is essential for treating the adhesions. Breaking down adhesions through deep tissue massage relieves these restrictions that reduce stress and decrease pain. This can help break negative loops that often compound.
Acupressure is performed by applying pressure to adhesions and trigger points. When pressure is applied blood flow is restricted resulting in an ischemic compression, so that a resurgence of local blood flow will occur upon release. As the pressure is applied, scar tissue tension is released, softened, and broken down. An increase in blood flow occurs to help repair damage and improve the fascia and muscle condition.
How to treat trigger points
Trigger points are often found in the center of muscle fiber and can become painful when compressed. They're so named because they feel like a trigger - something that pulls or urges us into action, which is exactly what happens with these intense nerve meetings. When pressure is applied to trigger points, scar tissue breaks down and a decrease in pain can occur. This allows deeper tissue manipulation where we can apply more force for even greater results. Once constriction is released from these areas it's like magic - blood flow increases at the site of damaged tissue due in part by an increase in local circulation and repair initiation.
Increased temperature helps reduce tissue constrictions
Temperature around the massage site is increased due to friction created between hands and skin, the heat penetrates deeper towards the muscles and circulation is improved. A rise in muscle temperature increases the elasticity of muscular tissues around areas that are contracting. It allows these muscles to relax, decreasing tension and therefore pain. The warmth from massaging encourages scar tissue to be broken down which allows you to move more freely with less restrictions as well increased range-of-motion.
Taking care of your fascial system starts with a healthy lifestyleOne of the best things you can do for your health and quality of life is to consult with healthcare professionals to start you on the right track. The human body is a complex network of interconnected systems that work together to keep us healthy and active. Healthy fascia helps structure many parts in your physiology self including muscles & bones as well as nerve fibers. Fascia massage helps promote a variety of physiological effects such as breaking down adhesions, increasing temperature via increased oxygenation and the healthy realignment of collagen fibers leading towards improved health and mobility.