Coming up next weekend (Sunday, February 12, 10-11:30am ET), Lara is doing her monthly workshop on ways to take care of our various soft tissues. Sounds AMAZING right? One area she will be focusing on is fascia and if you’re wondering what fascia is and why you may want to free it up, keep reading. 🙂
Fascia is a connective tissue that covers every structure of the body, giving it form and function. It wraps, penetrates, supports, and forms the skin, vascular and nervous structures, bones, organs, and muscles. This three-dimensional structure provides an environment that allows all of the systems of the body to operate in an integrated way. Another important feature of fascia is that it is capable of responding to mechanical stress. It constantly transmits and receives mechano-metabolic information to influence the shape and function of the body.
Because fascia is one of the richest sensory tissues in our body, it has both mechanical and emotional effects within the body. Normal movement is due to the presence of fascia. It allows the sliding of muscles, nerves, and blood vessels between joints, and the organs to slide and move in response to the position of the body in space. Whenever we change position, mechanoreceptors in the fascia detect the change, send the information to the brain where it is interpreted, and then this information is relayed to the muscles. Dysfunction of the fascial system can cause a disconnect between the central nervous and musculoskeletal systems and greatly affect posture and movement patterns. In addition to these receptors for spatial awareness, receptors for pain and body image/awareness are also found within the fascia. Since they are in close proximity to one another, disruptions may affect these areas as well. In fact, the position of the body has been shown to stimulate areas of emotionality in the brain. Therefore, dysfunction of the fascial system can change not only one’s posture, but also one’s emotional state, body image, and pain perception.
Fascial dysfunction can occur for a variety of reasons. Stress on the fascial system due to poor movement patterns, sub-optimal nutrition, habitual postures, and physical or emotional trauma can all impact fascia’s ability to glide and slide. The absence or reduction of sliding causes an inflammatory environment, which creates adhesions between the various fascial layers. These adhesions then vascularize, become innervated, and can be the reason for recurrent pain, stiffness, tissue fatigue, and reduced function. Furthermore, compensatory movement patterns secondary to adhesions can then occur, resulting in more stress on the fascial system, and the cycle restarts.
If fascia becomes fibrotic, as described above, movement is difficult. Movement patterns become uncoordinated, producing more anaerobic metabolites, which are registered by the brain and spinal cord as fatigue. This is common with conditions like fibromyalgia. Studies have also shown fascia to be a potential cause of pain. There is a decrease in viscoelasticity, or sliding and gliding, within the fascial system causing the pain receptors to become activated. Studies have shown that mobilizing fascia leads to an overall reduction in pain. Movement can be restored allowing optimal force transmission across the tissues of the body so a person can move and therefore function better. It should always be supplemented with exercise and functional movement like LYT Yoga® to retrain the body, addressing musculoskeletal strength and imbalances throughout.
If you want to free up your fascia and other soft tissues in the body, join Lara next weekend on LYT® Daily for her workshop! Click the link below for more details or to sign up. You won’t regret it!
Soft Tissue Self-Care Workshop with Lara Heimann
Sunday, February 12, 10-11:30am ET