WHAT IS FASCIA?
Fascia is defined as a thin sheath of fibrous tissue enclosing a muscle, group of muscles, blood vessels and nerves. While fascia connects different structures and sometimes different regions of the body together (see Anatomy Trains), it allows for smooth movement of those structures along and over one another. The more that fascia is studied, the more we realize the intricacy of its framework and just how deep it roots within us to coordinate every structure of the body. What we do know is that fascia participates in transmitting movement from muscles to bones, provides structural support and possibly functions as our largest proprioceptive sensory organ.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT?
Having some kind of role in every movement and function our bodies perform is reason enough to draw attention but what most are yet to understand is that fascia may be the reason they have been experiencing pain in various areas of the body for extended periods of time. Fascia provides reason to why a persons neck pain can eventually turn into knee or even foot pain as we are understanding that fascia is just one long, elaborate, densely packed fibrous network. To solidify this thought, think about what happens to a sweater as you snag a single piece of it; if pulled hard enough, the whole sweater gets distorted. This is what happens when fascia is damaged causing the body to respond with altered movement, decreased function and loss of flexibility between the layers of fascia and muscles due to adhesion formation.
WHAT ARE ADHESIONS?
Adhesions are basically a ‘tangle’ or a sticking together of layers of muscle and fascia. This ‘tangle’ distorts movement, decreases range of motion and slows the bodies greatest sensory organ. The best analogy I can provide is that of running a comb through perfectly straight hair and then one through that of tangled hair. The tangled hair has strands of different lengths distorting where one begins and ends. While tangled hair may not be painful, adhesions within the fascial network are and until they are addressed, the fascia is unable to move and rehydrate, maintaining a restricted motion pattern which allows pain to persist.
TECHNIQUES USED TO 'RELEASE' ADHESIONS:
At Revive Sport & Spine, we employ many different techniques to release these adhesions, diminish the pain, and restore range of motion. This release can be accomplished through active stretching and release methods, tool assisted techniques, dynamic cupping therapy as well as some forms of self myofascial release techniques that are often taught to patient to help maintain motion when away from the office. It also must be addressed that myofascial treatment can, at times, be uncomfortable. Some adhesions require more pressure or more repetitions to release but once the treatment is complete and the tissue has healed, the restored pain-free motion will balance the discomfort.