What is fascia?
Fascia is a system within the body, it is a connective layer of tissue that covers our muscle, heart, brain, spine, lungs, nerves, bones, and arteries. The tissue appears to look like a thick white woven spider web, or net like, and feels like ropes or guitar strings.
Fascia layers thicken due to trauma, inflammation, overuse, injury or a medical procedure. The fascia thickening causes the painful myofascial tightness that will develop causing pain, posture imbalances and decreased range of motion.
The myofascial restrictions will not show up on X-rays, CAT scans, or similar standardized medical test, leaving people undiagnosed and in chronic pain without proper treatment. Almost all pain is associated with soft tissue myofascial trigger points.
If the muscles in the back of the neck are tight they will contribute to headaches or migraines. Releasing these trigger points can reduce almost all kinds of pain in the body. A diagnosis of arthritis is often associated with myofascial trigger point pain, it is just not as easy to diagnose, but myofascial release therapy will help relieve the pain.
Growing Popularity of Myofascial Release Therapy
Myofascial release has become a common treatment among physical therapist and fitness professionals due to its high success rate in preventing injuries, reducing chronic pain, increasing strength, improving flexibility, posture, athletic performance and quality of life.
Myofascial release is a safe hands on therapeutic technique that involves applying pressure to the myofascial connective tissue with various tools and movement therapy which restores range of motion while reducing pain associated with muscle tightness.
Fascia is Not 100% Bad
Fascia is not bad when it is in its normal state. Normal fascia is mobile, elastic like, relaxed, flexible and able to move and stretch without restriction, it provides lubrication between the joints contributing to a healthy metabolism and overall healthy nervous system.
Fascia is our body’s defense mechanism protecting our body from trauma by increasing the amount of fascia on the injured area of the body to immobilize the area and allow for healing.
Fascia only becomes a source of tension or pain within the body after trauma or inflammation from chronic overuse, surgery, etc. The symptoms of fascia tension include headaches, limited range of motion (ie. cannot lift arms overhead), pain, lack of flexibility, balance and/or stability.
Health issues that can benefit from myofascial release therapy include:
- Neck and Back Pain
- Birth injuries including flat head syndrome, and torticollis
- Bladder concerns due to tightness in the muscles around the pelvic floor
- Bulging Disc
- Spinal Injuries
- Cerebral Palsy
- Adhesive Capsulitis also referred to as frozen shoulder
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Shin Splints
- TMJ syndrome
Methods for myofascial release
There are therapist that specializes in myofascial release typically using gentle stretching with applied pressure to warm muscles. Most therapeutic massage therapist will be able to use the strategies of myofascial release to manipulate and help your body unwind and loosen up the thick layers of fascia tissue.
It helps if you warm up with light cardiovascular exercise prior to meeting with your therapist, this will speed up your body’s ability to loosen up and respond to therapy. Specific names of therapy include trigger point therapy, rolfing, and/or fascia blasting.
Watch this Video – Self Massage or Myofascial Release for the Neck
There are strategies for self-myofascial release techniques including daily stretching, yoga, or tools like small therapy balls, foam rollers, sticks, or massage tools with claws and pointed ends that help dig into areas that are hard to reach with a roller.
If you feel off balance, chronic joint or muscle pain, numbness, tingling, cramping, limited range of motion or excessive clumsiness, your body may be binding with excessive fascia.
Dehydration hinders the body’s ability to transport nutrients to cells and tissues and properly detoxify waste particles naturally.
Drinking at least half of your body weight in ounces of quality hydroxide alkaline water can help naturally detoxify the body and reduce inflammation, all while keeping the tissues and cells well nourished.
Integrated health care nutrition experts have found that gluten may contribute to muscle tightening and chronic pain. Eliminating gluten if you are sensitive or intolerant can improve muscle tightness and chronic pain.
Ensure that you are not deficient in nutrients by consuming at least 9-11 servings of vegetables and some fruits.
Consider supplementing with a quality multi-vitamin mineral, omega 3 fish oil, and a probiotic. If you have a nutrient deficiencies, your body has a difficult time naturally detoxifying and can become inflamed resulting in muscle tightness.
If you have symptoms of fascia tightness consider finding a qualified therapist, stretching daily and using the self-care tool options like a foam roller, or therapy ball. Also modify your diet to drink enough hydroxide alkaline water daily, eliminate gluten, and increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables.
[*] DeStefano LA. Principles of myofascial release and integrated neuromusculoskeletal technique. In: Greenman's Principles of Manual Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Wolter Kluwer Health Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2011.
[*] Ajimsha MS, et al. Effectiveness of myofascial release: Systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 2015;1:102.
[*] Cherkin DC, et al. A comparison of the effects of 2 types of massage and usual care on chronic low back pain: A randomized, controlled trial. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2011;155:1. [*] Shekelle P, et al. Spinal manipulation in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 24, 2015.
[*] Ajimsha MS, et al. Effectiveness of myofascial release in the management of chronic low back pain in nursing professionals. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 2014;18:273.