Fascia is the thin casing of connective tissue that surrounds and holds every organ, blood vessel, bone, nerve fiber, and muscle in place. Fascia creates the connection between muscle and bone, determining alignment, stability, and mobility. Besides providing internal structure, most nerve endings attach to fascia as well, making it almost as sensitive as skin. Therefore, when fascia is affected, it has an impact on the whole nervous system.
One of the most complex parts of the human body, fascia is very responsive to movement patterns or lack of movement altogether. Although fascia looks like one sheet of tissue, it’s actually made up of multiple layers. Designed to stretch as one moves, when fascia is toughened, it loses its ability to move freely, becoming less flexible and pliable and sometimes forming painful knots. Loss of elasticity contributes to many musculoskeletal injuries, restrictions, and sources of tension. As aches and pains develop, analyzing the source of the issue could be beneficial.
Determining whether pain is due to muscles, joints, or fascia can be a challenge in itself. In general, muscle injuries and joint problems tend to feel worse with movement. Fascia adhesions tend to feel better with movement and also respond well to heat therapy, which helps bring back the tissue’s elasticity.
Fascia is made up of 70% water, making hydration an integral part of the healing protocol. True hydration in the body is not defined by how much water is consumed, but by how much water the body absorbs. Once fascia is adhered together and the surrounding muscle becomes congested and tight, relief will require more than just consuming large quantities of water. All systems in the body work together; if fascia is dehydrated, many symptoms can arise — body discomfort, problems with digestion, sleep, neurological control, sensorimotor compensation furthering the body’s imbalances, and joint compression leading to chronic pain conditions.
Hydrated fascia is like a sponge. When a sponge is hydrated, it is pliable, responsive to movement, and able to return to its original shape quickly. Fascia operates similarly, so conversely, when it is dehydrated, fascia cannot soak up vital nutrient- and oxygen-rich fluid.
Soft tissue work as well as any movement propels water through fascia and the circulatory and lymphatic systems creating more overall systemic hydration. Soft tissue manipulation increases mobility by returning tissue to its more gelatinous state in which it can withstand the demands and forces of daily life, resulting in smooth motion and greater mobility. With the proper tools and techniques, rolling can be an effective way to help relieve tension.
Kari teaches an Intro to Roll workshop. This class is based on The Roll Model Method and includes a pair of Original Yoga Tune Up balls which, through their size, texture, and density, were designed specifically for myofascial release. The workshop will focus on various techniques based on anatomy and musculoskeletal form and function, to create an understanding of soft tissue manipulation that is safe and effective. Call or click on our website to see the workshop schedule.