How your fascia affects your body
Think about the first thing that you do when you wake up in the morning… To bring movement back into your body, to bring energy back into your body, you stretch out wide. A familiar and satisfying ‘waking up’ feeling overcomes you and prepares you for your morning.
Chi, prana, life force; every culture has a different name for our body’s bio-energy. However, they all agree on a deeper conclusion of how energy travels through the body and communicates with our muscles, organs, nervous system, and glands. Fascia is the connective tissue that travels through our entire body attaching and stabilising all of the bodies components. We are beginning to understand the great importance of fascial health in the body and how nurturing your fascia can greatly improve your overall wellbeing.
Think about a spider web. When you touch a spider web it causes the whole web to move. This is by design so that the spider is provided with instant information about what to react to and the health of its web. The fascia in our body works in a similar way. It provides a network around the body that allows for functional movement and communication between our organs.
Funnily enough, our fascia even looks like a spider web. If our fascia is stimulated it transmits signals to every part of the body. Conversely, if our fascia is not being stimulated our bodies can begin to feel stagnant and sore. A sedentary lifestyle causes the fascia to tighten around our muscles and organs, becoming stiff and sticky.
Although they go hand in hand, it’s easy to tell the difference between muscle tightness and fascia tightness. Muscle tightness is localised and fascia pain will create tightness in differing areas of the body. When you’re in a yoga class trying the touch your toes in forward fold you might notice a slight pull in your hamstrings. That’s muscle tightness that will dissipate slowly after you move from the posture. Fascia pain and tightness is more chronic and moves around the body. It may start in your shoulders in the morning and move to your lower back and knees in the afternoon. If you have ever complained about full body aches, then your fascia health may be the culprit.
Our fascia also has direct links to our nervous and lymphatic systems.We have six times more sensory neurons in the fasciae than any other tissue in our bodies. Our lymph system actually lives in our superficial fascia, the fascia under the skin. So the health of our fascia is directly linked to the health of our nervous and immune systems.
Fascia is complex to study because it loses most of its important constitution when looked at on a cadaver. This is why we rarely hear about fascia health in western medicine. The reason why fascia is so important in the body is that it contains interstitial fluid that is bio-electromagnetic. When our fascia is stretched it changes shape and releases ATP, an energy molecule. This acts as a signal to the nervous system sending healing messages to the body. The release of ATP also has a calming analgesic effect of the body. So people who live a sedentary lifestyle with minimal movement are hindering their bodies ability to communicate and heal itself through its fascia.
Although fascia is hard to study in western medicine, people in the holistic health world are beginning to do their own self-study – and you can too. Start by choosing a practice, or a combination of practices that focus on Myofascial release. Yin yoga, rolling classes, and massage are all treatments that release tension in the fascia due to trauma, posture or inflammation. The great thing about these practices is that they are all enjoyable, gentle approaches that require no prerequisites other than having fascia in your body. You can start your self-study by giving your symptoms a score out of 100. If your symptom is general body aches a score of 25 would mean that it adversely affected approximately 25% of your daily or weekly function. You can keep track of your symptoms regularly as you begin to participate in Myofascial release and see how over time your scores begin to decrease.
At Myall Wellbeing we have a wealth of options and knowledge when it comes to Myofascial release. Our professional massage therapists are trained in releasing areas of tension in the connective tissue and will provide you with instant relief and relaxation. Our new Roll & Restore class led by physiotherapist yogi Kylie Pearsall is structured to help you better understand your fascia. You’ll learn techniques using therapy balls, rollers, and blocks to safely release “stuck” areas of connective tissue and create more freedom and space, in your body and your life. With regular yin yoga classes to complement those practices, let your fascia supercharge your wellbeing this winter at Myall.
Blog lovingly written by Mikaela Moretti