MyoFascial Release with Massage – Why It’s Important
Fascia is our biggest sensory organ, our organ of awareness– our internal ocean. ~ Tom Myers
What is Fascia?
Fascia is the system of slippery, white-colored connective tissue that exists throughout the body and surrounds every muscle, organ, and nerve. Its purpose is to provide protection to the inner physical body from external trauma. It is also a structural support for muscles and bones to help them function through a wide range of motion including sitting, running, jumping and changing positions (from sitting to standing, squatting etc).
Fascia is responsible for the smooth function and interaction between organs and muscles as it allows them to slide smoothly against each other without interference.
How Fascia can be damaged
- Poor posture, physical injury, illness and even emotional stress can cause constrictions and tightness to develop in vulnerable areas of the body. The effect of this tightness or injury can cause the entire network of fascia within the body to be affected. The injured area can become knotted and cease to function fully, which can misalign the body’s movement and affect the flow of nutrients and circulation to the site.
- Aging, injury or prolonged, repetitive movement during sports or exercise can cause the fascia to tighten or twist in the stressed part of the body. This thickens the tissue and can result in inflammation. Because the fascia is an interconnected network, one area of dysfunction can affect the entire body and cause tightness, strain, and pain anywhere besides at the site of original damage.
- Extensive immobility in one part of the body can cause the fascia in that area to become dried out and inflexible. This can restrict the flow of energy to that area and result in poor nerve communication and blood flow resulting in unhealthy functioning (stiffness, reduced range of motion, diminished operation) of that muscle or organ.
Maintaining Healthy Fascia
There are a number of ways to support the continued proper function of fascia and thus promote reliable well-being in your body.
- At the gym or at home, the use of balls and foam rollers can facilitate the release of restrictions in the fascia. These apparatus relax restrictions in the fascia between bones and muscles, which frees up the immobilized or painful areas.
- Prolonged stretching exercises such as yoga that repetitively compresses and then releases the tissues, helps improve the smooth interaction of fascia with organs and muscles.
- Regular movement of the body supports lubrication and ease of movement of fascia as well.
How Massage Can Help
While passive stretching and such disciplines as yoga can support greater flexibility and range of motion in the fascia, massage is a most effective way to help release and stretch fascial tissue within the body.
The slow, non-invasive stretching and release techniques used in myofascial massage can be a powerful means to heal and restore proper function to the fascial tissues. It can be used in combination with other massage modalities or it can be a session in and of itself.
Myofascial stretching produces a profound level of relaxation. It begins with relaxation techniques, which promote relaxation of the muscles, and allows direct access to working with the fascia. Through stretching and release techniques of this massage, any deeply held tension, constrictions or tightness within the connective tissues can be identified, released and healed.
With continued stretching and release of the fascial restrictions, it is also possible to re-pattern any default holding or tightness that has been chronically held anywhere in the body.
For example, tight hips can benefit from the re-training of fascia and muscle behaviours as massage restores the proper flow of blood and nutrients to constrictions.
Its gentle pressure and help restore communication with the nervous system that imprints a message to release tension. Because the fascia is a network throughout the body, the information is shared to the whole physical structure and can help unravel any tension that is held elsewhere. When this happens, optimal function and peak performance are possible.
Myofascial massage can hold the key to creating permanent change and restoring a sense of balance and well-being in both body and mind.