I absolutely love myofascial release. It brings an amazing feeling of openness to the body, works incredibly well for all sorts of injuries and tight areas and is the best way to work on a deep level without causing any pain to the client. But wait, what exactly is a fascia?
Here after you can see an illustration of the thoraculumbar fascia. It’s huge right? What if by working on those fascias we could get rid of lower back pain? You can see that this huge diamond shape is directly linked to the IT band… if those fascias get tight, it’s just going to affect everything else… and look up on this picture, all those white areas represent superficial fascias… Our head is just one big fascia! So what about headaches? You can see that they are all connected. Let me guess know: I’m absolutely sure that every single person experiences tightness and pain in at least one of these areas; so if left untreated over a long period of time, the pain is just going to spread from one area to the other until you loose motion range, you get injuries and other painful problems. So take action!
A fascia wraps around each of your individual internal parts, keeping them separate and allowing them to slide easily with your movements. It’s strong, slippery and wet. It creates a sheath around each muscle; because it’s stiffer, it resists over-stretching and acts like an anatomical emergency break. It connects your organs to your ribs to your muscles and all your bones to each other
If you want to imagine how it looks like, think about an orange. It is that white skin that you can find just under the actual orange’s skin and before the actual edible part. Without that white skin, there would be no orange. Without fascias, we would only be a big blob…
Fascias are connective tissues, just like ligaments and tendons. Tendons link the muscles to the bones, ligaments joint one bone to the other and fascias surrounds muscles or other structures. They allow them to move smoothly and to work properly.
If the fascia stops working as it should, then the muscles loose their flexibility and become tight too. It is the perfect way of preparing the body for further injuries… So how do I keep my fascias healthy?
- Move – if you don’t regularly move, sticky adhesions will form between fascial surfaces and over time these adhesions will get strong enough to inhibit a range of motions. So strecth every now and then, stand up and quickly walk around, take the stairs and use every opportunity to move your dear behind;-)
- Drink – fascias are made out of water, so keep on drinking water, it’s just good for everything!
- Stretch your muscles – good, real, long stretches are needed to avoid tightening of fascias. If left unstreched for long period of times, the fascias will become rigid, compressing the muscles and nerves. You have to stretch gently, not pull like crazy on your toes to pretend you are flexible and that you can do it. That way you will certainly injure yourself! No, stretch gently for longer period of time, to allow the fascia to open properly you should hold the stretch for 3 to 5 minutes. Think about going to a yoga class!
- Relax – if you are stressed all day at your desk it’s the recipe for tight fascias, and much more problems really. So learn to relax, breath, take a step back and gain some perspective: work will be work but your body is unique and so are you; so learn to relax!
- Know your body -and look after it. Like our car, our bodies should be having a check every couple of weeks/months to make sure that everything works as it should. Walk, dance, stretch and eat healthy and simple food. Practising a sport is great but be careful of over-doing it, Kiwis love to push themselves hard! Running is great but not if you have lower back problems or knee problems. If you want to run, then get better first by seeing a specialist that will help you recover fully before starting – gently – to run again. It’s like that for any other sport. Your fascias, and muscles need to fully recover before working properly again. So chill out if you have to and look after yourself!
- Get a massage with a myofascial release specialist – If you have a nagging injury or you just have been feeling bad lately, book a massage, you’ll be amazed by all the things you’ll learn about yourself and how amazing you’ll feel after taking that time just for you!