There is an intimate connection between fascia and muscle function, but what is it and why should you care? Fascia is a complex network of sheets, bags and strings that divert and transmit forces in the body to assist in movement and is crucial to your function and form.
Research has shown that muscles may not transmit their full force directly to the skeleton via tendons, but rather distribute a portion of their contractile or tensile force to other structures through fascial sheets. Fascial sheets transmit these forces to synergistic and antagonistic muscles to support their respective joints, yet they also exert these effects on other regions several joints farther away.
For example, pathological change within fascia, such as inflammation, can worsen low back pain and spread pain receptive fields. Fascia can change its nature from being a flexible, supportive tissue to becoming more fibrous and scar-like, which happens around injured joints and in response to postural imbalances among other things.
Researchers are beginning to map out the fascial network in specific parts of the body, raising new questions about its importance in common injuries, such as muscle strains and chronic conditions like Myofascial Pain Syndrome. In the past few years, there have been significant innovations in manual therapies targeting fascia. Treatments such as fascial therapy, rolling and myofascial cupping are all helpful, but more importantly, proper biomechanics are essential for long-term health.
Muscle activation and movement patterns have immediate and extensive consequences for your fascia and body. Working with a qualified fascial specialist can relieve pain, prevent injuries and enhance sports performance. Fascial research is a new and exciting science that is proving to be key in many musculoskeletal complaints and even in conditions previously considered unrelated or systemic in nature such as arthritis and other pain syndromes. There is a need for well-coordinated studies to further advance our understanding of fascia and to enrich the range of effective treatment options.
In addition, new hypotheses regarding the role of fascia in athletic pursuits are gaining attention. The old adage “no pain, no gain” is beginning to give way to a healthier, more balanced approach to the body through understanding fascia and muscle function.
- Fascial Therapy: A manual therapy that targets specific adhesions or fascial lines in the body to decrease pain arising from sensitivity and tension in the connective tissue while increasing nerve conductivity, circulation, and muscle function.
- Rolling: A therapy that uses a tool, such as a fascial ball, to break down adhesions and/or lengthen and realign connective tissue for pain relief and better musculoskeletal balance.
- Myofascial Cupping: A therapy that uses suction cups to lift and separate tissues using negative pressure to increase nutrient delivery, waste removal and glide, optimizing muscle and organ function.