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What is fascia? Is ‘myofascial release’ the secret to better health?

 

Over the past few years fascia has become a buzzword in yoga studios, gyms & clinics.  But what exactly is it, and should we all be paying more attention to this often overlooked aspect of our anatomy?

 

Put shortly, fascia is a clingfilm-like substance that wraps around all our muscles and organs, offering support and reducing friction during everyday movement. Fascia is part of the connective tissue system and permeates the entire human body. It binds packs, protects, separates our muscles; transmits force and stores energy for activities like running and jumping.

 

fascia-connective-tissue

 

Fascia adapts and changes based on the FORCES that we place on our bodies through various movements, activities and positions. These forces are transmitted to our bodies’ cells, which can create both positive and negative changes to our fascial tissues depending on the force. This process is called mechanotransduction.

 

The health of our facial system depends on the type, frequency and duration of the forces that we place on our body day in and day out. These forces may include: our work, sports & activities….or lack thereof. Fascia can become stiff, fibrotic, scarred and painful from acute injuries, repetitive strain and lack of movement. An acute injury involves injuries that happen in an instance – such as muscle strains and joint sprains. Repetitive strain injuries develop over time when we repeat certain tasks or movements over and over without proper rest and recovery. Repetitive strain injuries are common in office workers, hairdressers, manual labourers, electricians and any job that requires you to do something repeatedly throughout the day.

 

Even if pain decreases over time after we rest an injury the fascia is will still be fibrotic, stiff and more prone to reinjry or compensation. This is why it is so important to treat the fascia after any type of injury, whether it is painful or not. The good news is that fascia can adapt to negative and positive loads. Fascia responds positively to the correct amount of stretching, resistance training, vibration therapies and myofascial release (to name a few). We can use the above tools to maintain or treat our fascia after injury.

 

Though exercise, yoga and stretching are great ways to keep our fascia healthy sometimes we need to be more specific when we are treating our injuries. When you come for chiropractic and massage we can specifically identify areas of fascial tension and then release these areas with our hands. Muscle pain or tension means that the muscles, fascia and joints aren’t functioning well.

 

When we apply pressure and stretch during myofascial release we are signalling to our bodies’ cells to break down scar tissue and create new tissue that is healthier and properly aligned. You don’t necessarily need an hour massage to deal with fascial tension. 20 minutes of focused myfoascial release work completed over several weeks will start to create positive changes in your fascial system. Chronic myofascial issues can take time to heal because the level of tension and scarring has been there for so long. It IS possible to live pain-free if  you give yourself the time and treatment that is required.

 

Book in to see one of our chiropractors or massage therapists today!