Fascia(ing) the Truth

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    Fascia

    Do you wake up stiff and sore?  Do you think it’s just part of getting older?  It’s time to face it, facia matters.

    Fascia coats all your muscles, nerves and organs, and it has been ignored for too many years.

    But things are turning around, and facia is finally getting the attention it deserves.

    Taking care of this forgotten tissue will probably improve your athletic performance as well as making you feel less stiff and sore.

    Professor Rebecca Pratt, Ph.D. (Oakland University, Department of Anatomy) says “Fascia is one of the most important and pervasive systems, because it connects every system together.”

    Think of an orange.  You have the peel – which is like your skin.  The white material right underneath it would be like the fascia.  It gives the orange shape and holds everything together.

    In your body, it is primarily collagen.  It stabilizes nearly every part of your body.  It encloses and protects your organs.

    It’s kind of wavy but it straightens out when pulled and is designed to help you keep everything in place as you move around.

    Don’t confuse it with ligaments (which connects bones together) or tendons (which connect muscles to bones).  The tissue might look similar and they are both heavy in collagens, but all these tissues are different.

    When fascia tightens in the wrong places, you get pain.

    If you pull this tissue too much it gets bunched up and when ripped or injured it can rebuild with scar tissue and pull at your joints making you feel tight.

    When the muscles become tight, the connective tissue that surrounds the muscles starts to thicken and shorten to protect the underlying muscle from further damage.

    Sometimes the fibers and fascia contract so much they form trigger points, which manifest as sore spots needing to be released.

    Fascia can also contract independently of the muscles it surrounds responding to stress.

    What this means is that the fascia can alter how you move, unless you take action.

    Myofascial release is the technical term to get this tissue back where it is supposed to go.

    There are two basic ways to get it to relax.  One is massage therapy.  The other is using a foam or hard plastic roller.  Both are basically massage, just the roller only requires yourself.

    Both these techniques get the trigger points to release and for scar tissue to repair.

    Then you help the rest of the fascia tissue to relax.  Once that happens the other tissues such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments can move the way they are supposed to.

    SOME MISTAKES TO AVOID

    If you use a foam or hard plastic roller, try to avoid these common mistakes.

    #1 – Don’t just roll on the sore spot

    When you find a trigger point, it might be tempting to only mash there.  You want to get all the surrounding tissue to relax just not that one place and you don’t want to further inflame that one area.

    #2 – Not taking your time

    You don’t want to rush this.  Slow long strokes seem to work best.

    This is thick material, massaging it can’t be rushed.

    #3 – Just staying in one spot

    The sheets of fascia tissue can be long, so slowly go over all of your body.

    #4 – Try to use good posture

    Don’t schlump over.  If you are in pain, reduce the amount of pressure, don’t cringe.

    This is going to hurt a bit when you start, but the results will be worth it.

    Most professional athletes use rollers as part of the warm-up and then following a workout or game.

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