Tell me more about the Fascia!

What is the fascia and what is myofascial release?
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Fascia does not discriminate, it simply keeps growing and eventually hardening into whatever shapes you make most often with your body. unfortunately today that most likely means your body resembles the shape of an office chair. 

By Janu Vanier

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THE FASCIA – What is it?

This is a web-like tissue which runs three-dimensionally all over the body. The fascia surrounds and supports all the cells, nerves, organs, muscles and bones in the body. At the time when the fascia is restricted, it dehydrates and changes to a glue-like substance. Not only does it lose its mobility, but it can also act on the underlying structures – up to 2,000 lbs. Per square inch! This tension can give birth to pain when applied directly into structures that are sensitive to pain.
In addition to this, it can lower the range of movement in joints, resulting in muscle pain, and fatigue when the muscles have to work against the tight fascia, and can also cause bizarre, seemingly unrelated symptoms when fascia entraps nerves.
Fascia is a connective tissue that contains various amounts of fat that separate, support, and interconnect the organs and structures, allows movement of one structure in relation to the other and allows passage of vessels and nerve from one area to another. The fascia is divided into two layers, which are:
• Superficial fascia
• Deep fascia

Superficial Fascia

The superficial fascia can also be referred to as subcutaneous tissue or hypodermis. It lies just deep to, and it is connected to the dermis of the skin. It consists of a loose areolar connective tissue usually containing a large number of fat cells or adipocytes. The adipocytes vary in number in various regions of the body and also in size based on the nutritional state leading to variation in the thickness of the superficial fascia. The superficial fascia permits the movement of the skin over body organs that are located beneath and in deeper areas of the body. Also, it acts as a conduit for vessels and nerves coursing to and from the skin, and lastly it serves as a reservoir for fat.

Deep fascia

Deep fascia is usually a dense, organized connective tissue that forms a membrane beneath the superficial fascia that invests the muscles and other deeper structures.
The outer layer of deep fascia is connected with the deep surface of the superficial fascia and result in the formation of a thin fibrous covering over many of the deeper region of the body. The inner extensions of this fascial layer from intermuscular barriers that separate groups of muscles with similar functions and innervations; other extensions surround individual muscles and groups of vessels and nerves, resulting in the formation of an investing fascia. In certain joints, deep fascia thickens, forming retinacula. The fascia retinacula help to hold in place the tendons and prevent them from bowing during joint movements.

What is Myofascial Therapy?

Myofascial therapy, abbreviated as MFT is the massage style most commonly used in the therapeutic massage. MFT can be used in combination with any massage. However, it is most effective when used with deep tissue. There are two strokes used in the MFT massage, and they are:
1. Cross fiber
2. Longitudinal release
Prior to the application of these strokes, a massage therapist will use a reasonable amount of time warming the tissues which need to be worked on. In the event that the tissues are not correctly warmed, it will have a massive effect on the effectiveness of the strokes by substantially lessening or harm them.

MFT Myofascial Therapy

After the tissue is warmed, one of the two strokes will be applied by the therapist. When the cross fiber stroke is being used, the therapist dips into the abdomen of the muscle and moves from one side to the other in a single stroke or back and forth many times. This is also known as sawing. Advantages of cross fiber stroke are:
• Redirection of muscle fibers
• Breaking of scar tissue
• Accelerate healing
• Increases blood circulation
• Pain relief
When the longitudinal release is used, the therapist moves along the length of the muscle by making use of many strokes. The therapist will sink into the tissue until it involves muscle tissue. After this, the therapist will pull back on the tissue until the slack is learned. Later, the therapist will dig deeper into the tissue and stroke forward as much as the tissue permits. This is done many times down the length of the muscle. Some of the benefits of longitudinal release are listed below:
• Lengthens the muscle fiber
• Restores the elasticity of the muscle
• Releases superficial fascia (tissue) from the underlying tissue
This type of massage is beneficial and should not be painful. There must be ongoing communication between the client and the therapist to ensure that pressure and techniques do not cause pain.

WHAT IS MYOFASCIAL RELEASE?

Myofascial release is a type of physical therapy which is adopted in the treatment of myofascial pain syndrome. A chronic pain disorder which occurs as a result of sensitivity and tightness in the myofascial tissue is known as Myofascial pain syndrome. These tissues are very important as they surround and support the muscles throughout the body. The pain usually starts from specific points in the myofascial tissue. This point is referred to as the “trigger point”.
The main focus of the myofascial release is lowering pain by alleviating the tension and tightness in the trigger points. It has been challenging to understand that the trigger pint is responsible for the pain and also, localizing pain to a specific trigger point is very difficult. As a result of this, myofascial release is often used on a large area of muscle and tissue rather than at one point.

How does myofascial release work?

Many of the myofascial release treatments occur during a massage therapy session. Some chiropractors and traditional medical practitioners can also offer myofascial release treatments. During this session, the therapist will gently massage the myofascia and look for stiff or tightened areas. The normal myopathy must be supple and elastic. After this, massaging and stretching of the area that feels rigid will be done by the therapist by making use of light manual pressure. The therapist then helps the tissue and supportive sheath to release pressure and tightness. The process is done repeatedly several times on the same trigger point and at other trigger points until the therapist feels that the tension is completely released.
Those areas where a massage therapist is working may not be close to the source of the pain or where the pain is felt. Myofascial release work on the wide network of muscles that might be responsible for the pain. What it does is trying to reduce tension all over the body by releasing the trigger points across a broad section of the muscular system.