What is Fascia and How Can Fascial Restriction Lead to Dysfunctional Movement and Pain?
Have you ever experienced a sudden muscle pain or stiffness that just won't go away, even with stretching or massage? The culprit could be your fascia. Fascia is a complex network of connective tissue that covers and interconnects every muscle, bone, organ, and nerve in our body. It plays a crucial role in maintaining our body's structural integrity, movement, and flexibility. In this article, we'll explore what fascia is, how it works, and how fascial restrictions can lead to dysfunctional movement and pain.
Table of Contents
What is Fascia?
Fascia is a thin, tough, and flexible connective tissue that surrounds, supports, and separates our muscles, bones, organs, and nerves. It's made up of collagen fibers and elastin fibers that give it its strength and elasticity. Fascia is like a spider-web-like matrix that runs through our entire body, providing structure and stability to our tissues.
Types of Fascia
There are three types of fascia in our body:
Superficial fascia: This is the fascia that lies just beneath our skin, connecting it to the underlying muscle tissue.
Deep fascia: This is the fascia that surrounds and separates our muscles and other internal organs.
Visceral fascia: This is the fascia that covers and supports our organs and provides them with mobility.
Fascia performs several critical functions in our body, including:
Providing structural support and stability to our tissues.
Maintaining our body's posture and alignment.
Transmitting force and movement between our muscles, bones, and joints.
Encasing and protecting our organs and nerves.
Facilitating the exchange of nutrients and waste products between our cells.
Fascial restriction is a condition in which the fascia becomes tight, dense, and adhered to surrounding tissues, limiting their mobility and function. Fascial restrictions can occur anywhere in the body, but are most common in the neck, shoulders, back, hips, and legs. When fascial restrictions occur, they can lead to a range of symptoms, including pain, stiffness, reduced range of motion, and dysfunctional movement patterns.
Causes of Fascial Restriction
There are several factors that can contribute to the development of fascial restrictions, including:
Poor posture and alignment.
Repetitive motions and overuse injuries.
Inactivity and sedentary lifestyle.
Trauma and injury (including surgery).
Chronic inflammation and autoimmune disorders.
Psychological and emotional stress.
Symptoms of Fascial Restriction
The symptoms of fascial restriction can vary depending on the location and severity of the restriction. Common symptoms include:
Pain and tenderness in the affected area.
Stiffness and reduced range of motion.
Numbness and tingling.
Weakness and fatigue.
Abnormal movement patterns and compensations.
Diagnosing Fascial Restriction
Diagnosing fascial restrictions can be challenging, as they often don't show up on imaging tests like X-rays or MRIs. At Gravity Osteopathy we would perform a physical exam to assess your range of motion, muscle strength, and any areas of tenderness or pain. We also ask about your medical history and any recent injuries or physical activities that could contribute to fascial restrictions.
Generally speaking though, a common indicator that we tend to see is when someone comes to the clinic with a pain/injury that is chronic and they've been to many other practioners before walking through our doors. Other forms of treatmentshave helped a little but only in the short term.
Treatment Options for Fascial Restriction
There are several treatment options available for fascial restrictions, depending on the severity and location of the restriction. Some common treatment options include:
Direct Myofascial Release Techniques
This is the most common form for myofascial release that we use in the clinic, however, in some cases may be quite uncomfortable. It may also leave some bruising in the area of treatment.
Indirect Myofascial Release Techniques
This is another common technique that we use and is a lot more gentle than direct techniques. We find it works well in particularly sensitive areas and on acute injuries.
Foam rolling is a self-massage technique that involves using a foam roller to apply pressure to the fascia and muscles, helping to release tension and improve mobility.
Movement Based Stretching
Rather than static stretching, we find some people respond well to a small amount of daily movement specifically targeting towards a particular fascial restriction. For example we often use an exercise called apple picking. This is when you would reach up to the sky diagonally which may help elongate the fascia on the front of the body.
In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove or repair damaged fascia.
Prevention of Fascial Restriction
Preventing fascial restriction involves maintaining good posture and alignment, staying active and avoiding prolonged periods of inactivity, staying hydrated, and managing stress.
Benefits of Maintaining Healthy Fascia
Maintaining healthy fascia can improve your overall health and well-being, including reducing pain and stiffness, improving range of motion and flexibility, and promoting better posture and movement patterns.
Fascia is a complex network of connective tissue that plays a crucial role in our body's structural integrity, movement, and flexibility. Fascial restrictions can occur due to a variety of factors and can lead to a range of symptoms, including pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. Fortunately, there are several treatment options available to help release tension in the fascia and muscles and improve mobility. By maintaining good posture and alignment, staying active, and managing stress, you can help prevent fascial restrictions and maintain healthy fascia.
If you live in the Narre Warren, Berwick, Hallam, or Cranbourne areas and would like to speak to an osteopath about myofascial release, feel free to contact us by using the form at www.gravityosteo.com/contact. You can also make a booking with at via our online portal at www.gravityosteo.com/book. Alternatively you are more than welcome to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 0493 031 231
See you in the clinic soon!
What is the difference between fascia and muscle?
Fascia is a thin, tough, and flexible connective tissue that surrounds and interconnects our muscles, while muscles are the contractile tissues that produce movement.
Can fascial restrictions cause nerve pain?
Yes, fascial restrictions can compress nerves and cause pain, numbness, and tingling.
Can surgery cure fascial restrictions?
In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove or repair damaged fascia, but it's not a common treatment option.
Can poor posture cause fascial restrictions?
Yes, poor posture and alignment can cause fascial restrictions and lead to pain and dysfunction.