Until relatively recently, fascia has been poorly researched, documented and prioritized in the western medical field. Thanks to a few key researchers, the magnitude and significance of its functional role in our body has sent this ‘underdog’ tissue into recent stardom.
The question that still resides in many patients I see is: What is it? And what role is it playing in my pain?
To some practitioners, fascia is essentially everything, only to be differentiated by the ratio of excess other stuff that composes the tissues. Throw in some extra minerals, you get bone; Increase the collagen, you get tendinous or ligamental tissues; Add a little more elastin, you’re looking at veins and arteries, organs, muscle.
However, to most individuals not involved in that depth of study, fascia, is a web--yes, a web like what a spider builds--of connective tissue running throughout your entire body, connecting all parts of your body together. It supports organs, nerves, and blood vessels; allows for muscles to slide and glide for movement and strength; comprises the tendons and ligaments; transmits the contraction of muscle fibres to the bones they move.
So what role is it playing in your pain?
Potentially a big one!
Fascia holds a history. Chronic or repetitive stress, injuries, surgeries, or other traumas, create adhesions, thickening, changes in density and elasticity, and the infamous ‘scar tissue’.
When this involved tissue undergoes these types of changes, you can experience a wide variety of sensations from lack of mobility to hyper-sensitivity to touch and temperature. It can create aching or burning or a continual tightness that you just can’t put a finger on.
When restriction occurs, it can change movement patterns, creating barriers in the train tracks and friction between muscles, joints or organs irritating the system, nerves and other structures.
And thanks to the integration of the fascial matrix which allows us to function so magnificently, upwards of 70% of pain receptors can be found directly in or involved with fascial tissues.
Pretty cool, eh?
Now, there are lots of methods to treating fascial restrictions. Cupping, Rolfing, Stretching, Melting—the list is vast, and most will provide similar results over different timelines and intensities.
Some techniques involve ‘breaking’ the fibres, which produces similar short term results, but long term produces reoccurring scar tissue as the body heals the ‘tears’. It is also generally more uncomfortable.
In Osteopathy, we look to change the fascial restriction without breaking the functional collagen fibres—there is a reason they’re there to begin with after all! We do this by engaging, and tensioning or lifting the fascia gently, allowing it to stretch and separate naturally. While initially this might take more time, it gives patients long term results without creating reoccurring buildup as the body continues to heal.
Think you’ve got fascial involvement with your pain? Book an appointment to get yourself back to fluid movement without restriction! Remember, a balanced body does not hurt!
Waygood Manual Osteopathy
A balanced Body does NOT hurt!
PSSST--click here to check out a super cool video to see an up close and personal look at fascia, and then try this experiment below at home!
Anatomy Experiment with Fascia:
Want to get a little more hands-on with fascia? Next time you’re preparing chicken or red meat for dinner, look for the silvery, stretchy tissue that separates the skin from the meat, or the thick chunks of meat and fat!
It doesn’t count as playing if it’s educational, right?