The Mysterious World of Fascia

January 25, 2024 4:50 pm

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You might attribute a painful neck or a backache to tired muscles or stiff joints. But these symptoms can also be caused by a part of your body you probably haven’t heard of: the fascia. Until recently, this network of tissue throughout the body received very little attention despite its major role in every move you make.

You may have heard the term fascia thrown around, especially if you’re familiar with bodywork or fitness jargon. But what exactly is fascia? Fascia is a type of connective tissue that has a complex job within the body. Fascia weaves in and out of every single part of your body, binding muscle fibers and muscle groups, wrapping around bones, nerves, and blood vessels, essentially holding everything in place as it should be.

Although fascia looks like one sheet of tissue, it’s actually made up of multiple layers with liquid in between called hyaluronan. It’s designed to stretch as you move. But there are certain things that cause fascia to thicken and become sticky. When it dries up and tightens around muscles, it can limit mobility and cause painful knots to develop.

The amazing thing about it, is that fascia is strong yet flexible, in the sense that it acts as a mild shock absorber for the structures it encompasses and is constantly changing length and shape to accommodate the necessary movements of all these structures. So, with this intricate work, what happens if something goes wrong?

Fascia is just like any other tissue in that once it’s damaged it can heal, but that often leaves a scar of sorts. Essentially, the new tissue that is laid down in the healing process is not quite as elastic as the original version. That’s not such a big deal usually, but with repeated damage to the same areas over time, loss of elasticity can lead to pain and restrictions in movement. This can be corrected, just like other forms of scar tissue. Fascial restrictions can be softened, allowing range of motion to be restored and pain to improve.

Determining whether your pain is due to muscles, joints or fascia can be difficult. In general, muscle injuries and joint problems feel worse the more you move. Fascia adhesions tend to feel better with movement and also respond well to heat therapy, which helps bring back the tissue’s elasticity.

Massage therapy is a great way to start relieving your symptoms. During a fascial treatment session, you may find the therapist working areas of the body not directly over the particular areas you complain of. Because of the interwoven connectedness of fascia, oftentimes the source of a restriction is not where the symptoms present. Your therapist will work to discover the potential outer lying issues, as well as any holding and compensation patterns. They may also discuss exercises, stretches, and other forms of bodywork that can help, depending on your specific needs.

The most important thing to remember is to listen to your body. If a movement or exercise doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. When your muscles are telling you they need a rest, give it to them. Introducing massage as a part of your regular health care can help prevent the restrictions or pain from getting too overwhelming.

Body & Soul Massage in Salem Ma offers Therapeutic Massage for Pain Relief. Make Massage part of your wellness lifestyle with our monthly membership program. HAS/FSA benefits accepted.

For more information or call 978-825-0040