Sometimes stiff joints and tired or painful muscles may be just that. Other times, however, these symptoms can result from damage to an uncommon but extensive part of your body called the fascia.
For example, when you become injured, your doctor will likely focus on where the injury has occurred. Often, their recommended treatment brings you relief. Nonetheless, in some cases, the injury might fail to respond to treatment, and you may even seek a second opinion from a registered massage therapist (RMT). A closer look into the matter may reveal that your injury results from damage to the fascia.
The damaged fascia often causes pain that may or may not go away without treatment. Recently, scientific discoveries have shed light on this little-known body tissue. An RMT in Vancouver, for example, examines the connection between fascia and chronic pain and provides remedies to maintain fascial health and address fascial-related chronic pain.
Understanding Fascia And Its Functions
A fascia is an extremely thin layer of fibrous tissue containing collagen bundles packed closely. These tissues are found everywhere in your body, including your muscles, nerves, bones, and blood vessels. The role of fascia is to offer your internal body organs firm but flexible support to create and maintain the body’s basic form and structure.
Additionally, fascia facilitates smooth, pain-free movement of your body’s bones, muscle tissues, and internal body organs. Studies suggest that it’s also a sensory organ that plays a critical role in the perception of movement and posture, thus affecting your coordination and proprioception.
For instance, changing your posture causes the mechanoreceptors of your fascial tissues to deform and activate. When that’s done, afferent information is relayed into the brain and the spinal cord. Your body’s central nervous system then interprets these messages before sending the efferent information to your muscles.
Healthy fascia tends to be smooth, slippery, and very flexible. This enables it to stretch whenever your body moves. On the other hand, unhealthy fascia tends to be thick and sticky and eventually tight around your muscles. Consequently, this restricts your mobility and forms painful knots.
The Connection Between Fascia And Chronic Pain
Unhealthy fascia is one of the major causes of chronic pain. This is because fascia is located everywhere in the body. Therefore, the slightest irritation to any of your body organs is likely to cause significant pain, inflammation, and discomfort. In addition, the sensitive nature of fascial tissues explains why unhealthy fascia might cause pain.
As mentioned above, poor fascia health causes fascial tissues to be thick and sticky. This can happen when any of your body organs are injured after surgery or overuse. Essentially, this makes movement difficult, and you’re bound to feel pain if your fascial tissues are not moving smoothly or freely.
Another problem that may arise due to your fascia becoming sticky is inadequate blood flow. Poor blood circulation means your body organs, muscles, and joints won’t receive enough nutrients. This also causes stiff and tight joints and muscles, which leaves your body tissues fatigued, and limits your function and performance. These symptoms are often accompanied by chronic pain.
How To Tell Whether Your Chronic Pain Is Linked To Fascia
Sometimes, you may have difficulty differentiating pain that arises from bad fascia health and the one caused by joint or muscle overuse. Usually, pain resulting from joint or muscle injury gets worse with movement. On the contrary, while unhealthy fascia makes movement difficult, attempting to move the affected area provides relief.
According to registered massage therapists, massage therapy, foam rolling, and heat therapy may also help relieve fascia-related pain. They achieve this by renewing the elasticity of the tissues. Nevertheless, these remedies may not do much for pain resulting from muscle or joint damage.
In some cases, damaged fascia can heal on its own. However, leaving fascia to repair itself may deform your body tissues. This is because, without proper remedies, the fascia will likely heal in the form of clumps as it remains stuck on muscles and scar tissue. This results in fascial adhesion, which is the stiffening of fascia, causing your nerves to be trapped. Consequently, this can increase the risk of developing radiculopathy, which is the pinching of nerves at the root.
All this further minimizes friction and limits movement, resulting in persistent pain. Other consequences of not treating fascia include muscle spasms, muscle cramps, and misfiring nerves.
Ways You Can Maintain Good Fascial Health
Registered massage therapists recommend incorporating these simple strategies into your daily routine to maintain good fascial health:
Engage In Physical Exercise Regularly
Staying active is a proven way to help keep our fascia in good health. Don’t just stay seated throughout the day. Instead, move your body as much as possible. If your job involves sitting for hours, try incorporating even small movements into your work routine.
For instance, take regular short breaks, stand up, and stretch or take a bathroom break. In addition, becoming physically active outside of work can help you maintain good fascial health. Consider picking up hobbies like cycling, yoga, or hiking, and you’ll be good to go.
Stretching is good for your body. It’s even better for maintaining good fascial health since your body organs are all surrounded by fascia. Think about how refreshing a good stretch is when you feel exhausted. Now imagine how better the feeling would be if you stretched frequently.
Regular stretching can also help make your muscles and your entire body flexible, which can be a good indication of healthy fascia.
Practice Good Posture
Bad posture tightens your fascia and makes it difficult to move, resulting in pain. Registered massage therapists recommend that practicing good posture can save you from poor fascial health, especially if you spend long hours seated at work.
As such, if possible, resist the urge to slouch while working from a desk or using your phone. Instead, ensure that you sit up with your back straight. Similarly, maintaining an upright posture while standing or walking can help keep your fascia from stiffening and facilitate better fascial health.
Remedies For Fascial-Related Chronic Pain
If you’re experiencing chronic pain due to unhealthy fascia, you can do a couple of things to find relief. These include the following:
Yoga is a great way to relieve pain resulting from stiffened fascia. You can choose to practice yoga on your own or consult the services of a yoga therapist. You can also check online resources to help you get an idea of how yoga works and which routine you can try. You can look up yoga poses, find reliable Yoga apps, or watch videos across various media platforms.
These online resources can also help you search for a therapist if you prefer working with one. A yoga therapist can help you by designing a routine that fits your needs and setting achievable goals. They’ll also keep you accountable by following up with you regularly.
Another remedy recommended by the registered massage therapist in Vancouver is Pilates. The essence of this exercise therapy is to teach you to control your movements. It can also help you strengthen your muscles through stretching, which releases tension. In addition, numerous therapists recommend Pilates to prevent the stiffening and deformation of fascia as it preserves its elasticity.
Foam rolling is a technique that involves rolling a cylindrical hard foam, known as a foam roller, over an injured part of your body to release tension. It’s a widely practiced form of self-massage, which can be effective in pain management.
According to registered massage therapists, this technique also works to release tension and relieve pain. It entails inserting needles into your trigger points. However, it’s essential to note that if you wish to try this, ensure you seek the services of a certified acupuncturist.
Heat therapy can also help relieve chronic pain caused by damaged fascia. Some heat therapy practices include taking a warm bath or a hot shower and using a heating pad on your painful trigger points. These simple techniques help loosen tight knots and reduce pain significantly.
Releasing tension in your fascia and minimizing pain associated with fascia damage is possible through massage therapy. A certified registered massage therapist has knowledge and experience regarding fascia interconnectedness with skeletal and muscular systems. This places them in a better position to help you achieve relief by stretching your fascia and trigger points using myofascial release therapy.
Under myofascial release therapy, the therapist uses soft pressure motions to reposition your fascia correctly, thus releasing fascial restrictions. Besides massage therapists, certified osteopaths, chiropractors, physical therapists, and acupuncturists can also perform myofascial release therapy.
Rolfing is a technique that involves myofascial manipulation along with deep tissue massage. A Rolfing practitioner or therapist focuses on your entire body instead of your trigger points. Rolfing aims to fix your posture and realign your body’s structure to alleviate pain.
Fascia offers your body firm but flexible support that creates and maintains the body’s basic form and structure. It also facilitates smooth, pain-free movement of your body organs, considering that it runs throughout your body. With that, unhealthy fascia can cause you persistent pain because of restricted movement and poor blood circulation.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to minimize pain associated with fascia. These include yoga, Pilates, foam rolling, massage therapy, heat therapy, and Rolfing. On the other hand, good posture, regular physical exercise, and frequent stretching are sound practices for maintaining good fascial health.