Importance of fascia in musculoskeletal health

Posted on 2015-05-21 08:01:32

  Fascia is a type of connective tissue that holds muscles together throughout the body. It normally surrounds an egg and sperm after conception and later segments into ligaments. It has a web-like appearance and is very thickly woven. It interpenetrates every bone, muscle, artery, vein, nerve, and the internal organs which include the brain, heart, spinal cord, and lungs. What makes fascia fascinating is the fact that it is not a separate system but rather a continuous structure that runs from head to toe with no interruption. This means that every part of the body is joined to each other by the fascia. Fascia has a very vital role in the support as well as functioning of the body because it surrounds and connects to all bodily structures. It can move and stretch freely. When the body is in a normal healthy condition, the fascia is usually calm and in a curvy pattern. However, when the body experiences inflammation, scarring or suffers trauma whether emotional or physical, fascia loses flexibility and its density increases considerably. It gets restricted and rigid hence causing tension to the entire body. Trauma, for example falls, repetitive stress injuries as a result of overusing some parts of the body like intensive mouse clicking, and poor posture can cause increasing effects on the body. These types of traumas cause changes in the fascial system hence interfering with the body’s functioning and comfort. When fascia is restricted it can put too much strain resulting into symptoms of headaches, pain, and restricted movement. Fascia restrictions can greatly affect the stability and flexibility of the body, and consequently reduce the ability of the body to endure stress and even carry out every day activities. As explained by Dr. Hamisi Kote, an orthopedic, about 99% of skeletal pain is related to fascia (other causes may include infections or cancer). Most people who experience pain or lack movement may have problems related to fascia because build up of fascia affects mobility. Often, chronic pain is as a result of scar tissue (fibrous tissues that substitutes normal skin following an injury) and build up of too much dense fascia. Treatment may thus be needed to melt fascia that has solidified or built up over a period of time. Exercises such as stretching can help melt the solidified fascia. To keep your fascia in a healthy status; Do stretching exercises to help relax muscles and melt dense fascia. When the muscles are constantly rigid, the enclosing fascia also becomes rigid. With time, the fascia tightens hence putting pressure on the nerves and muscles. Once fascia gets tight, it may not be easy to release it thus do the stretching in a gentle manner. Stretch out your body from head to toe first thing after you wake up in the morning. When working, especially if the work involves a lot of sitting, take breaks regularly to stretch. Form roll using a form roller at least two times in a week. Apply slow and gentle movements and once you feel a tensed area, hold continuous pressure for about 3-5 minutes. Similarly, going for massage can help release tension in fascia. Do not attempt activities such as running when you have an injury, or you have just recovered from one and you are limping. This is because the fascia usually responds to the new mechanics, hence after you have recovered from the injury the body may continue with the same pattern of movement. Thus to avoid long-time problems, it is good to give yourself ample time to heal first before embarking on any strenuous activities. If you have an injury that does not get better, the problem could be with fascia. Therefore, see a specialist such as physiotherapist or a chiropractor for therapies to help release tight fascia. By Rebecca Muthoni