Under your skin, encasing your body, and webbing its way through your insides like one huge spiderweb, is FASCIA. Fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds our muscles, bones, nerves, blood vessels, and organs. It literally wraps around the entire body, connecting it from top to bottom.
Since it is connected to basically everything in the body, you’d think it must be pretty important, right. ABSOLUTELY. But how many of you have actually heard of it or know what it does?
Since fascia is like a web, it should make sense that any tightening or restriction in one area of the body creates tension in another area and throughtout the web, leading to pulling on other structures. This is why often times people will feel pain that appears unrealted to their original injury (ie. if you had a knee injury you feel pain down your lower leg and even into your foot). Therefore, fascia influences the tension and integrity of the entire body. Any localized stiffening of the system could affect the range of motion of that particular area and may create instability throughout the system.
Imbalances and tightness throughout the fascial system could be a result of trauma, poor posture (which is very common), inflammation, and/or repetitve motion.
Here’s how I suggest you take care of your fascia:
- STRETCH REGULARLY: When your muscles are chronically tight, the fascia that surrounds those muscles becomes very tight as well. This tightness obviously shows an imbalance in your muscular system, possibly leading to one in your fascial system as well. Take care of it and stretch (dynamic before working out & static following your workout!)
- FOAMROLL: Since fascia covers our entire body, you can actually foam roll any part of your body. Foam rolling works to loosen up tightness in the fascial system. SLOWER is better when rolling (& take your time!…I will honestly spend 10-15 minutes foam rolling some days). If you feel one spot, for example while you’re foam rolling your IT band, that feels more tender than others, it’s known as a trigger point (or adhesion). Go ahead and hold on that spot for 20 seconds and be sure you’re breathing as you do so in efforts to help release the knot.
- GET A MASSAGE: Yes, a massage. I’m sure you’ve been working hard so treat yourself. For starters, it’s good upkeep. If possible, if you could get in to see a massage therapist at least once a month, you’ll reap benefits. And if you have some type of injury or annoying tightness that’s bothering you day to day, DEFINITELY go see one ASAP. Many massage therapists are beginning to embrace fascial therapies so ask around. If not, you can look into a fascial or myofascial therapy specialist.
There you go, so in order to maintain good muscular balance within your body and feel good, TAKE CARE OF YOUR FASCIA! : )