What’s All the Fuss about Fascia?
Jun 30, 2012 11:32PM
By By Tamar Myers
Anyone who has received massage or bodywork has probably heard something about fascia (pronounced “fa-shuh”), the connective tissue that runs throughout the body. Every structure in the body is wrapped in fascia, which blends from one structure to another. Sometimes its consistency can be likened to plastic wrap, while at other times it’s more like cotton or netting.
Until a few years ago, fascia was perceived as a “dead” wrapping that had to be cut aside to get to the more interesting parts of the body. In recent years, however, there has been enough interest in this important tissue to warrant three meetings of the International Fascia Research Congress. Research presented at these gatherings revealed fascia to be much more alive and responsive than previously thought, with the ability to contract and respond to pressure in multiple ways.
These findings support the opinion among those who practice fascial bodywork modalities that fascia must be addressed when musculo-skeletal problems are present. Practitioners who work with this connective tissue believe that an injury or restriction in one area can cause problems elsewhere because of the broad presence of fascia and the fact that it creates connections between different parts of the body.
If a therapeutic bodyworker says that he or she works with fascia, it can mean many things. Terms commonly associated with fascial work include Rolfing, structural integration, Myofascial Release, trigger point therapy and Cranio-sacral therapy. Some of the work involves actively breaking up adhesions and restrictions that can form as a result of injury, overuse, or misalignment. Other approaches involve a more gentle method of "melting" the fascia, or slowly stretching it, to restore mobility. Therapists may also perform visceral or neural manipulation with a client, which address the fascia around the organs and nerves. Again, any restriction in the fascia can impact the function of whatever it surrounds.
Those seeking relief for musculoskeletal issues should ask therapists about their training, experience and approaches to bodywork. If a practitioner claims to do fascial work, ask what type and whether they use a stronger or a gentler approach. A therapist with good assessment skills will determine the optimal approach, and it may be necessary to try a few different approaches and a combination of techniques for the greatest benefit.
When it comes to keeping the fascia as healthy as possible, movement is key. The more people stay active, the better their functional and overall health will be.
Tamar Myers, LCMT, has a private practice in Lexington center at 16 Clarke St. For more information call 781-862-8000 or visit MyersBodywork.com.