Why You Should Care About Fascia
Recently, fascia has recently become less and less of a mystery to researchers. Which is great because it covers every square inch of our bodies. The connective tissue not only runs under your skin, it encases every muscle and even each fiber within the muscle. Think of it like the saran wrap of the body: it keeps everything held together and in place inside of you. And just like other tissues in your body, it responds to stress and trauma when damaged. And with this occurs, it can cause pain and limit mobility. As such, fascia is a crucial component to how we move and adapt to different postures. And with it being so widely spread throughout the body, it can have a major impact on our overall health. I bet you haven’t previously given your fascia much thought before, have you? Well, if you haven’t (or even if you have), here are 3 reasons why you need to care about your fascia.
1. Fascia Has the Capability to Limit Movement
Fascia, like other body connective tissues, can change in response to repeated stress or injury. Just as tendons may thicken in response to repetitive motion or lifting heavy weights, fascia may thicken and stiffen in areas where it is repeatedly exposed to stress. This results in areas with less flexibility and can contribute to a limited range of motion and improper movement patterns. Research has also uncovered that fascia has contractile capabilities similar to muscle, so it may play a factor in overall strength and stability.
2. After an Injury, Your Fascia Needs Attention
Our bodies lay down collagen (thick connective body tissue that’s often referred to generally as “scar tissue”) after an injury occurs in order to repair the damaged area. After the injury and laying down of collagen, If movement of the surrounding body tissues is not had, the collagen will harden and become “sticky”. Imagine two layers of fascia as two pieces of printer paper. Alone, the sheets of paper glide over one another freely as would layers of healthy body tissue. Now, imagine spreading a layer of honey between the papers. Do you think they’ll still glide over one another smoothly? I don’t think so! This example demonstrates the loss of tissue glide that happens when collagen builds up between layers of connective tissue. It is important to interrupt this process and restore functionality. One of the best ways to do this on your own is by foam rolling.
3. Like The Rest of Your Body, You Need to Regularly Care for Your Fascia
Just like every other aspect of self-care, your body won’t do it for you automatically. You have to put in the time and effort. If you are in pain and have gone a week or two without improvement, it’s time to seek professional help. Fascia cannot be stretched in the same ways that stretching is traditionally thought of. In order to elongate the fascia, it needs gentle pressure over a long period of time. A qualified massage therapist can assist you in accomplishing this through massage and stretch therapy.
Additionally, fascia (and other body tissues like muscles) needs regular movement so that it does not become rigid and inhibited. But in order to move regularly, you first need to make sure that you’re moving well. If we’re not able to move without pain or compensations, it’s going to limit your desire and ability to move often, which will lead to more fascial and muscular tightness. One of the best ways that you can ensure that you’re body is moving well is to go through a Functional Movement Screen Test (FMS). You can learn more about this kind of movement screening here and here.
But overall, combining regular massage and stretch therapy treatments with exercise and regular movement is the best way to keep your fascia (and muscles) functioning properly. And this is exactly what we help you to accomplish at The Anatomy of Wellness here in Salt Lake City, Utah. We provide a unique and effective approach to your therapy that combines both passive bodywork (massage & stretch therapy, etc) with movement assessments (FMS) and focused exercises. Learn more about our great massage therapists and exercise specialists here, and then schedule your appointment with us today online.