Monday, 10 January 2022

Fascia Explained…so what’s that all about????

Just before covid, back in 2019, I was in Brighton for another part of my BTEC course and it was all about Fascia. Using fascial techniques can be such a powerful part of a treatment which can hold the key to releasing people’s long term pain. It’s only in recent years that scientific studies have been carried out and new knowledge is being gained.

So you might never have heard of Fascia...so I’ll try to explain as simply as I can! Within our body we have 3D connective tissue surrounding every cell, organ and bone in our body. It's like a fluid silken body suit that connects all structures to each other and keeps us all together. 
Strain in one area of the fascial 'silken body suit' can be transmitted to elsewhere in the body (Fairwheather, Mari, 2015)
Fascia becomes important in pain conditions because for us to have the maximum body function our fascia needs to be able to glide and move freely. As we move it needs to glide in order to let our muscles expand and stretch and for movement to occur. However if one area of the fascia becomes restricted perhaps due to bad posture or scar tissue then this will not move freely and may cause pain and discomfort. Because the fascia is restricted it doesn’t let our body move as freely as it would like.

There is a great video on Youtube which describes how this works too which is worth a watch to understand better - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v54l3wDTJHg

Also, I’ve attended various online training courses with Functional Fascial run by Julian Baker who is an expert in the field. He carries out dissections of cadavers to learn more about how the fascia is intrinsic in our body functionality.  I have learnt so much about the way our body works as one whole system, in synchronicity, rather than as individual parts. Anatomy has previously been taught as individual muscles, bones, joints etc and now it’s being discovered how we are connected by fascia and work as one system.  This is called Biotensegrity, where the movement of one area will affect another. 

Working with the fascia


Releasing fascial restrictions can be done by a variety of direct and indirect fascial techniques which help the fascia to unwind and let go of it’s tension. Working on these tight fascial areas can sometimes feel like burning or pins and needles as the tissues are ‘stuck’ but as they release you will feel the gentle ‘letting go’ and sometimes you’ll take a deep breath or sigh with the release. Fascial release techniques are mostly slow as the tissues take time to melt and release, so as a therapist you need to tune into your client and wait to feel the tissues move under your hands. It takes practice to feel the subtle movement under your hands. 

Fascia and our emotions


Our fascia also holds lots of emotional memories in it's structure and this can also affects its function. This explains how our emotions, our life events and traumas can affect our body’s function later in life. If you think about when we receive bad news or something scary happens to us, we tense up or feel a knot in our stomach and this tension can be held for years to come within our fascial system. Sometimes if you think back to a traumatic time, you may feel pain within your body too. 

When we work with the fascia to release any tightness this can sometimes lead to a simultaneous emotional release as we let go of old trauma or emotions. It can sometimes come as a surprise but can also be very liberating to release old emotions that we have been holding onto for too long. I’m sure some of you have felt emotional or lighter after you have had a massage, as your body would have been releasing and letting go of some of these held emotions.

I incorporate fascial work into most of my massages at the start of each session and when needed, to help give your body more ease of movement and release these tight restrictions held. Feeling the tissues melt and release is always a good feeling for both myself as a therapist and the client. 

If you have any questions or would like to know more, please do get in contact.