This article has a great description of how the fascia works in our body. A tennis ball and foam roller are great tools to have for your own self care. Both craniosacral therapy and myofascial release work directly with the fascia to release the restrictions and help the body to return to it’s normal state of balance.
Do you feel tightness and tension in your head, neck, shoulders, back, legs or knees? Chances are you can alleviate a lot of it by working on your fascia.
The fascia is a system of connective tissue that runs through your entire body, holding every major system of our body in place. It has been described as the “plastic wrap” that holds our muscles together, but it actually encompasses every organ, nerve, blood vessel, and skin cell.
The fascia runs through your muscles and helps attach your muscles to your tendons and ligaments. It acts as a shock absorber for many of your muscles and a net that provides leverage for your muscle fibers to contract and produce movement. About 90% of all muscular injury is not from your muscle fibers, but your fascia.
As you get older, and from a variety of other reasons, your fascia will tighten, making injury and improper movement more likely. Other factors leading to tight fascia include physical trauma, muscle soreness, structural and muscular imbalance, burns, surgical scarring, bad posture, stress, inflammation, and infection.
When your fascia gets tight, a section of your muscular tissue will become “glued” within the muscle, preventing the muscle from operating in a proper way. And to make it worse, fascial tension can cause other parts of your body to compensate for that imbalance, forcing misalignment in other parts of your body, which causes further injury.
Think of a hammock tied on each end to a tree. The hammock is the fascia between two joints (the trees). If a person sits in the hammock (representing muscle contraction or tension), the trees take on the pressure in a balanced way. Once the person gets out, the trees (and the hammock) return to normal. But if one tree were pulled in an opposite direction, the hammock and the other tree would be pulled in that same direction to compensate. From head to toe, your body is interconnected, and that if one part is affected, the other parts will also be.
In fact, there are physical connections of fascia that start from the bottom of your foot, go up your back, and over your skull. So, believe it or not, releasing tension in your feet can release tension in your neck!
To relieve tension throughout your body, and prevent injuries before they occur, you need a healthy dose of massage, stretching, and foam rolling. Massages are awesome, but can be quite expensive. So for most of us, the most practical thing is to make it a habit to spend 15-30 minutes a day to stretch your entire body both before and after a workout, and at the end of a long day sitting in front of a computer. If you’re not quite sure what to do, you can join me in my Stretch & Roll class, where I guide you through a complete routine using a foam roller.
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