Simply put, fascial release is like unwinding a rope. Above all its main goal is releasing restrictions from the fascial system.
Functions of the Fascial System
The fascial system begins as a 3-dimensional spider-web during the second week after conception. Developing muscles, bones, and organs are interwoven within this web, shaping it and being shaped by it.
The fascial system is a tensegrity structure, forming an interdependent system of strength, support, elasticity, and cushioning right down to the cellular level. It’s a soft tissue body suit with the ability of adapting to all life events by receiving, moving and expending energy. In summary, the functioning fascial system works its magic by:
- Allowing for the proper movement of the body
- Assisting with proper flow of blood and lymphatic fluid
- Supporting cellular nourishment and detoxification
- Facilitating wound healing by laying down new scar tissue
- Balancing & supporting the bones and organs
- Maintaining proper body temperature
Layers of the Fascial System
To illustrate, consider the soft tissue body suit as being composed of three different “layers” sliding and gliding over each other. Each layer differs in function as well as composition with varying percentages of collagen and elastin fibers.
- Collagen fibers are a high density fiber that gives fascia its strength and integrity
- Elastin fibers are a stretchy fiber that gives fascia its extensibility and resilience
To begin, the superficial fascia layers are the loose fibrous envelope beneath your skin determining body shape. In addition, the superficial layers act as transport conduits surrounding the organs, glands, nerves and blood vessels. In short, the primary functions are to act as:
- A storage tank for fat and water
- A passageway for lymph, nerve and blood vessels
- A protective padding to cushion and insulate
Next, the deep fascia layers are the dense fibrous tissues surrounding and penetrating the muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels within the body. Naming and functioning of the deep layers is dependent upon location and composition. As has been noted above, composition is referring to the percentages of collagen and elastin fibers that are present.
Deep fascia creates the compartments holding skeletal muscle. In addition, it makes up and flows into the:
- Tendons that join muscle to bone
- Ligaments that join bone to bone
- Joint capsules that surround the joints
- Aponeuroses that are layers of broad flat tendons
- Septa that are the substructure of certain portions of the body like the nose
- Retinacula that are sheets of tissue that hold tendons in place
- Periosteum that is the cover and penetrating deep fascia of your bones
Traditionally the deep layers were considered to be relatively avascular tissue, meaning that it didn’t have a lot of blood or lymph flow through it. Recent research has blown away that perspective. Everything must be moving and flowing for optimal health.
Finally, the visceral layers are tissues creating an organ’s substructure, along with wrapping the outsides of the organ. The underlying fascial “skeleton” is holding the functional cells together as a unit, while the wrapping is anchoring the organ into its location within the body.
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Fascial Release Benefits
- Restoring postural balance
- Reducing swelling and stiffness
- Improving range of motion
- Increasing circulation, flexibility and coordination
Damaging the soft tissue body suit happens in a variety of ways. Common examples include tearing, puncturing and surgery. , infections or blunt force traumas. Acute injuries create an inflammatory response, which is the beginning of physical healing. Generating scar tissue helps in sealing up wounds but it needs to be aligned, mobile and functional. Otherwise it becomes a three dimensional sticking point or adhesion within the tissues.
Infections, overuse and/or blunt force traumas are common examples creating fascial adhesions within the tissues. To illustrate, consider glue sticking layers of paper together. Adhesions are effectively preventing the proper motion and functioning of everything within the affected region. Altering motion and energy flow is the beginning of a cascade of changes creating imbalances within your soft tissue body suit.
Scarring and/or adhesions are responsible for creating lines or sheets of tension running through the layers of the soft tissue body suit. For example, think of an internal straight jacket continually pulling through the tissues applying pressure to pain sensitive structures such as muscles, nerves, and blood vessels.
Consequently, the body begins reorienting itself into new positions against gravity, thus minimizing discomfort. Compensations are happening under the radar and play a significant role in determining posture, as well as how you hold and move your body.
Compensation patterns end up becoming self-sustaining loops. Not disrupting the pattern allows them to continue growing, sort of like a run in a stocking. Ultimately the original starting point and current place of discomfort can be quite a distance apart.
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