Remedial Massage and its effects on Fascia
What is fascia?
Fascia is a type of connective tissue that essentially holds us together. It is composed of mostly collagen and elastin. The fibres of collagen are the longest and strongest form of protein molecules found within body, they can hold up to ten thousand times their weight. Collagen provides the tensile strength and structural integrity of the connective tissue. Whereas the elastin fibres allows the connective tissue to stretch, providing flexibility and the capability to absorb shock. These fascial fibres sit in an extremely receptive transparent fluid base that is interwoven in many directions all over the body.
Types of Fascia:
- Compartment fascia – surrounds individual muscle fibres, muscles, and muscle groups.
- Superficial Fascia – the fascia that lies just under the surface of the skin.
- Fascial sheaths – Superficial fascia that covers joints providing support and stability.
- Visceral fascia – surrounds each organ.
- Myofascial meridians/slings – bilateral systems of receptive connective tissue. These fascial slings relate to how we sense ourselves and how we move through life.
Fascia and the systems of the body:
Fascia incorporates all of the systems, with blood, lymph, nerves and meridians all passing through the fascial network. Fascia has particular connection to the muscular, nervous and endocrine systems. It is continuously reacting to these systems, responding to our emotions, movement and awareness.
Just like how muscles in the body can become imbalanced, fascial slings can get out of balance too. These imbalances are usually from lifestyle activities such as your job, sport and emotional/mental state.
A good example of imbalance within the Fascial slings is between the Anterior Functional Line – which is a functional fascial sling that runs along the fibres of the Pectoralis Major, along the abs like rectus abdominis and the external oblique, down to the pubis, then continuing along the Adductor Longus muscle to the femur/thigh bone. And the Posterior Functional Line – a functional Fascial sling travelling along Latissimus Dorsi and the sacrolumbar fascia, and then connecting to the fibres of Gluteus Maximus on the opposite side, then along the ITB and Vastus Lateralis, ending at the sub patella tendon.
A common scenario of fascial imbalance is when the Anterior Functional Line becomes short and tight and therefore medially rotates the shoulder drawing it forward. This shortening results in the Posterior Functional Line activating and lengthening. This is an intelligent response between the fascial slings as they adapt to change and try to maintain centre of gravity. However if these slings stay imbalanced for long periods of time it can have a negative affect on other structures within the body and cause pain e.g. to the spine and shoulder joint, as well as associated muscles. Fascial imbalances affect overall strength, flexibility and stability.
How Massage can help:
Remedial massage therapist can help with these fascial imbalances by using Myofascial release techniques (MFR) to lengthen and open the tight/stuck fascial sling, in turn allowing the opposing sling to return back to its healthy functional length.
As well as muscular and structural imbalances, it is important for Remedial therapists to look into fascial imbalances when treating pain and postural dysfunctions. At times muscles won’t release properly or structural corrections won’t hold if the associated fascia has not been treated.
When MFR is performed on tight fascia, clients notice great freedom and openness; it is a very effective technique.
Talk to your Remedial massage therapist today, and see if fascial work could benefit you!
Dip. RMT Ad. Dip. STTTags: health, Mens Health, Remedial massage, Remedial masseuse, Womens Health