If you’ve ever seen the thin layer of clear tissue around an uncooked chicken breast, you’ve seen fascia. Fascia has an elastic component, allowing it to move freely with body movement, enabling structures to move unimpeded over each other. Injury, stress, work-related repetitive movements and the effects of aging, even dehydration, can cause fascia to lose its elasticity and become thicker, denser and tighter, eventually binding some structures together and drawing us into abnormal posture and movement patterns.
Some issues people can experience due to fascial restriction:
How Fascia Works
Fascia is made up of two main components that are quite different from each other. One is elastin, a substance that gives tissue its ability to stretch. The other is collagen, a denser and less malleable substance that gives tissue its support and structure. Because of these two components, fascia responds to a very specific type of touch, namely, slow, steady pressure and warmth. When fascia is initially addressed, the elastin gives way and allows a practitioner to move the tissue. At the point the tissue stops moving and a practitioner continues to apply steady pressure and heat to the tissue, the tissue will slowly give way into a further stretch and release. It’s much like working with a cold block of clay….not easily manipulated at first, but given consistent pressure and heat, will start to become more malleable.
Some Methods of Releasing Restrictions in Fascia
Myofascial Release: The term “myofascial” refers to muscle and fascia (connective tissue) as an inter-related complex. Generally, myofascial release seeks to stretch and loosen the connective tissue of the muscles through sustained, gentle pressure over areas of restriction in the body. This technique can be done with client completely relaxed or participating with active movement as the therapist works.
Myofascial Cupping Techniques: This modality aims to lift and manipulate adhered fascia by way of a vacuum created by a specialized cup over the skin. The vacuum creates “negative” pressure or force removed from the body (rather than the “positive” pressure or force applied into the body that is experienced in regular massage). The vacuum pressure allows the practitioner to lift the adhered overlying tissues off the layers below, and bring blood flow into the tissues, creating an area of controlled inflammation in which tissue can remodel and rebuild. Utilizing active client movement with cupping techniques can bring about very quick changes (sometimes in minutes) for some clients in decreasing pain and improving range of motion.
Scar Tissue Mobilization: This is a more specific fascial modality aimed at releasing areas of visible scar and accompanying underlying adhesions. A visible scar may appear small on the surface, but may hide a large amount of adhesion under the surface that reaches in all directions, sometimes affecting areas much farther out than expected. Scars can act like disruptions in the fascial communication system, preventing smooth functioning of normal body biomechanics. Scar tissue work involves not only applying specific types of pressure and stretching to hydrate and release the visible scar, but also the surrounding area (and even distant areas) that may contain hidden scar tissue. Even things people would not ordinarily think of as causing scars can disrupt the fascial network: tattoos, mole removals, C-sections, laparoscopic surgery, arthroscopy, major bone breaks. Scar tissue mobilization techniques also can involve the client actively moving or resisting movement as the therapist works.
With any of these fascial modalities, as tissue is released, people can experience a variety of sensations like warmth, pressure, stretching, burning or ripping sensations or even moderate discomfort. Sometimes people experience emotions, memories or traumas that are connected to the restriction in the fascial tissue; for instance, the fear from the memory of a car accident as a front fascial line is released from the restriction of a seat belt digging into a shoulder during impact. Such releases can create the opportunity for meaningful physical change and/or resolution surrounding the issues presented.
As with all therapies that aim to change the dynamics of how a body moves, it is advisable to refrain from vigorous exercise immediately after any fascial work, in order to allow the body to stabilize and adjust to any changes in length, flexibility and range of motion of muscles and fascia.
OUR FASCIAL TECHNIQUES:
Myofascial techniques – Kendra Lemmon, Laura Renn, Hilary Sohn, Tim Healy
Myofascial cupping technique – Hilary Sohn
Scar tissue mobilization – Hilary Sohn