Fascia, Fascia, Fascia
This body structure gets its own section here because it truly is important to understand that everything we do affects the fascia.
When we attend a yoga class and hold poses wait for our bodies to release, we are waiting for fascia to unwind.
I had to include this absolutely fascinating video if you want to see what fascia looks like up close.
What is Fascia?
This incredible system of connective tissue in your body does amazing things that we are just beginning to understand. Because I get deeply acquainted with fascia on a daily basis through my massages and body work, I am beginning to see how it acts when things go wrong in the body. (watch the video here to see how amazing fascia looks in real life)
Let's do a test right now. Grab some skin on a part of your body, preferably where you have frequent injury or pain. Does it hurt to lift it up and away from the muscle? You are grabbing skin, but you are also lifting fascia away from the muscle and the pain you are probably feeling is fascial pain.
Before we go on, lets have a really generalized version of what fascia is. You have an entire network of connective tissue that surrounds muscles and organs (think of chicken skin, and the stringy stuff that you see when you pull it away from the meat).
Fascia has a large list of super important responsibilities in the body and this list grows as more research is done on the fascial system. We are just now starting to understand how important it is to keep this seemingly innocent body part healthy and happy.
The important part to understand is that fascia runs throughout the entire body, and it connects one band of fascia to another. It literally is one piece connected at different points. Because it's all connected, it all communicates together. If one section is having issues, it can affect fascia in seemingly unrelated parts of the body.
The Number One Thing that you need to know is that fascia reacts to stress, especially subconscious stress.
Fascial Adhesions cause Fatigue and Pain
When fascia is stressed, it starts to stick together and down to the muscle. This restricts blood flow, nervous system conduction, and lymphatic drainage. These liquid filled tubules can actually become dehydrated Basically it makes your nerves extra sensitive, especially because the waste is not being drained out through the blood vessels and lymph nodes. The nerves in response become like exposed wires that are being aggravated by stuck waste, and that's where chronic and fibromyalgia pain come from. And then lastly, this response can completely and utterly exhaust your entire body.
Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Sufferers have this stuck fascia at many points in their body. Whenever they move, it makes everything worse and the body responds by sending out even more fatigue signals.
In the overtrained athlete, symptoms such as lack of workout recovery, constantly sore muscles, reduced athletic performance, hormone disruptions, constant injuries, illness, and infections, and unexplained depression might start popping up. When the athlete continues, it can trigger much deeper problems.
Fascial Adhesions cause Injury
Think of fascia as a sleeping bag around the muscle. When its happy and relaxed and healthy, it comfortably surrounds the muscle and helps it to communicate and exchange fluids. When it is tight, it acts as a vacuum seal that makes it so the muscle can no longer stretch and glide like it should. It doesn't receive fluids, and nerve endings get hyper sensitized.
Fascial Adhesions cause Hormone Disruptions/ Depression/ Malaise
How to free up fascial adhesions
We can now see that restoring healthy fascia can help reverse a lot of these conditions, and absolutely needs to be a part of your self care regimen.
There are 2 ways to accomplish this. Learn methods to do it on yourself, or pay a practitioner to do it for you.
Gua-Sha or Graston- This is my preferred method and can be learned to do it on yourself. This involves using a stone or steel tool to release these adhesions, and I have many videos on YouTube that show you how to do this. It will physically break up the fascia and is highly effective.
Foam Rolling with Fascial Release - Using this to release fascia is a little different than just rolling up and down the body. Watch this video on how to do this
Gua-Sha or Graston - This can be done by a Massage Therapist, Chiropractor, or a Physical Therapist. It is the same as the self care method, you just don't have to do it.
Cupping - This gets similar results to Gua-sha, but the process is different. Instead of scraping down into the skin, you lift the fascia up.
Here are some of your superficial and deep fascial lines. See how a snag in your neck can affect things all the way in your feet. If its stuck in one part, it pulls everything else like a snag in a t-shirt.
What does this snag feel like? If it is minor, you may just have a persistent pain, that hurts anytime you do a certain activity. Maybe your lower back starts to hurt if you bend over too much or your hips hurt if you sit too much. If this snag has been allowed to thicken through inactivity, stress, lack of sleep, or lack of stretching, it can cause more snags in other parts of the body, and these snags start to shorten the length of the fascia. Shortened fascia=pain. These snags don't receive the fluid they need and become dehydrated and even more stuck. Dehydrated fascia actually hardens and will have to be manually scraped with a tool to get it to release.