Recently the term “fascia” has been highly publicized and used by many injury specialists and health practitioners. What is fascia? Is it a new structure in the body that has recently been discovered? What’s all the fuss really about?
Fascia is a thin layer of connective tissue that wraps itself around every muscle, joint and organ in the body. Think of it as a type of plastic or saran wrap for the structures underneath your skin. If you’ve skinned chicken breasts or trimmed meat, you’ve seen it – the whitish thin sheets of tissue between the skin and muscle of the meat. Although fascia is thin, it’s super strong and is responsible for the shape of our body. Often fascia can create tight knots or adhesions which can harden and thicken causing pain and limiting full range of motion. For example, a stiff and painful shoulder can be caused by thickened fascia round the shoulder muscles rather than damage to the shoulder muscle or joint itself.
Although the term fascia has been kicking around the rehabilitation and injury world for a very long time, it is now becoming recognized as an integral component to maintaining a fit, healthy and aligned body. In the last few years the importance of the entire fascial webbing system in the body has been in the spotlight. Something like a spider’s web, the fascial web is an interconnected system in which tension in one part of the body creates distortion for the whole web.
Many practitioners in the health and wellness community including myself, use “myofascial or fascial release” as a form of treatment to eliminate fascial adhesions or “knots” and re-align and rebalance the body.
Although a fascial release session is invaluable to help restore biomechanics and help the body function and move optimally, I often suggest that patients continue this work at home with one simple tool – a foam roller. This rather inexpensive piece of fitness equipment is all that is standing between you and a fascia happy body.
Here’s a great foam rolling infographic with some key exercises to get you started.
Infographic found on greatist.com