Fascia is a whole body connective tissue system that is woven like a three dimensional web from front to back, head to foot. It responds to gentle sustained traction or compression. Restrictions and tightness in the fascial tissue can put pressure (up to 2000 pounds per square inch) on structures such as joints, nerves and organs creating pain. Fascial restrictions do not show up on standard imaging such as MRIs, CT scans, myelograms, or PET scans and can often be responsible for pain that seems to have no structural cause. The role of fascia is multidimensional: providing structure and communication throughout the entire body and functioning as a transport medium for nutrients and waste products. John Barnes would argue it stores tissue memory and emotion...even consciousness. Due to it's uninterrupted nature, treating fascia allows the practitioner to address the body as a whole instead of treating isolated body parts.
For more information on John Barnes' Approach to fascia, visit https://www.myofascialrelease.com.
What causes fascial restrictions?
Fascial restrictions can be caused by a multitude of factors including prolonged or repetitive postures and motions, thwarted inflammatory processes, surgeries, falls, and both physical and emotional trauma.
What is the physiologic process behind Myofascial Release?
Myofascial Release Approach is different from other forms of therapy in that the techniques are held at the collagenous barrier for a prolonged (greater than 5 minutes) amount of time with out sliding on the skin. After about 5 minutes or more the patient's body produces piezoelectricity (pressure electricity) due to it's crystalline nature under pressure. This is then coupled with mechanotransduction when a biomechanical, hormonal effect at the cellular level occurs. This also produces interleukin 8 which is the bodies natural anti-inflammatory and cancer killer. The body then moves into phase transition which is when the solidified ground substance of the fascial system starts to become more fluid, taking pressure off pain sensitive structures and allowing resonance or a "release" to occur. For a more in depth explanation click here for a recently published article on the topic in Massage Today Magazine.
What does it feel like when a release occurs?
The response is highly individual for each person. For some, it is a relief of pain, pressure or tightness. Other sensations include increased sense of heat, cold, itchiness, or a pulling sensation in perhaps a seemingly unrelated part of the body. Sometimes there is an emotional response, consistent with the belief that fascia also contains tissue memory and emotion and verifying the mind body connection.
How can I facilitate a release of the fascia?
Queiting the mind and increasing body awareness during the session (less talking and thinking, more feeling) combined with an intention of letting go of current or old bracing patterns and opening up to new possibilities of healing create an environment for change.
Additional Resources Regarding Fascia:
Video of live fascia by Dr. Jean Claude Guimberteau: click here