Do you ever get up from your desk after working for a few hours and your low back hurts, your neck hurts or you have a sudden headache? Its most likely because your fascia, or connective tissue, has stiffened up or become sluggish.
Here at the Teal Center, we’ve been working with the fascia for decades and we love that everyone, including your physician, is now talking about its importance. Even the National Institutes of Health are putting their research dollars into understanding the connections between chronic pain and our fascia – and the connections have been found to be significant.
So what is fascia? Fascia is a gossamer weave of collagen fibers that provide strength and flexibility to our entire form. Fascia covers everything in the body – every bone, every blood vessel, every organ, every muscle fiber, every nerve – literally, everything in the body is connected to everything else through the fascia. The fascia is our ultimate shock absorber – if you fall off a bicycle, your fascia will move to protect your bones and vital organs from breaking or rupturing.
As a result, small and large impacts on the body over time can cause the fascia to develop strain or stress patterns, forming scar-like adhesions that limit range of motion and movement in the body. These stress patterns can put pressure on blood vessels, nerves and lymphatic vessels, limiting the natural flows in the body. Anytime natural flows are disrupted, we can get inflammation and eventually dysfunction or chronic pain.
So what do we need to do to keep our fascia fibers happy? The answers are simple!
Hydration – Our bodies are primarily made of water. When we’re born, about 78% of our body is composed of water. By the time we are 80 years old, we are closer to 55% water. The fascia thrives in a well hydrated environment. The superficial layer of fascia in our bodies has been coined a ‘fluid highway’ as this is where your vessels travel through to get to your organs and muscles. Also, as we age, high-quality collagen supplements can support the health of our fascia.
Movement – Movement is the body’s lubrication. Whatever it is for you, don’t stop moving your body. Walk, swing your arms, dance, run, join a Pilates class or go kickboxing – all movement is good for you and is critical to living a pain-free life. At the Teal Center, we offer movement classes and one-on-one yoga therapy sessions.
Bodywork and massage — Massage therapy is a clinically-oriented healthcare option that helps alleviate the discomfort associated with restricted fascia and shortened muscles. Regular massage therapy, whether its deep tissue, Swedish, or therapeutic massage, can have a profound impact on your overall well-being. Massage not only releases restrictions and strain patterns in the fascia, it also reduces stress, improves circulation, and enhances your overall health. Massage helps to improve flexibility and range of motion in both the fascia and the muscle tissue. In addition, massage therapy is a great way to relax and rejuvenate your body by improving your mood and reducing anxiety.
The frequency of your massage therapy treatments will depend on your individual needs and goals. In general, to maintain healthy fascia, we recommend at least a monthly massage as a preventative for chronic pain. For some people, especially those who are younger or have a regular, full exercise routine, a single treatment each year may be all that is necessary to achieve the desired results. However, for most, a series of treatments may be needed to return the fascia to a state of balance and healthy followed by monthly or bimonthly treatments. Your massage therapist will work with you to create a treatment plan that is best suited for your individual needs.
Overall, massage therapy is a great way to keep your fascia healthy and reduce or eliminate chronic pain. If you’re not currently incorporating massage into your health care routine, we suggest that you contact us today and see how we can help get you started on the path to better health.