A few years ago I started developing an interest in Fascia.
The Fascia movement was growing rapidly and passionately, I didn’t know how this system worked so I started attending workshops on self-myofascial release: it certainly felt amazing in my own body, but I still had no idea how important Fascia was and how, as a massage therapist, I could make a difference to my clients.
Then I watched THE video! (Warning! do not click the link if you are not ready to see a dissected body part!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FtSP-tkSug
Suddenly Fascia became a vital anatomy part of the body!
Later on, I came across Tom Myers of Anatomy Trains https://www.anatomytrains.com/ and fell in love with his knowledge, dedication and passion.
Finally, after over a year of researching a good and affordable course (there are plenty of courses out there for us massage therapists, the choice is huge between good & expensive courses or rubbish & affordable courses, but the challenge in finding a GOOD & AFFORDABLE course is huge!), Fascia introduced me to the best Massage School ever, where I’m now working towards a BTEC level 6 Degree.
So what is Fascia?
Fascia is the connective tissue that literally holds us together: muscles, bones, organs and soft tissues are enveloped in this fluid & elastic substance, forming a 3 dimensional body net. It is the scaffolding of the body.
It’s a continuous system of tissue, which means that something happening to your foot will have an impact on the rest of your body.
Fascia is formed of elastin and collagen, it is therefore elastic and strong. You can stretch a part of your body and, when you end the stretch, things will go back to the original state. But if you keep a stretch going for a long period of time (bad posture comes to mind) things will start changing shape more permanently.
Why is fascia so important?
When an injury is sustained fascia will quickly adjust to the new postural habits the body tissues come to hold in order to protect itself.
Restrictions in the Fascia not only mean bad posture can become a permanent issue, it also means muscles and organs are unable to glide freely over surrounding surfaces: when fascia is stuck it squeezes whatever is around it, such as nerves and blood vessels. Even the spinal cord is surrounded by fascia, which can lead to headaches and pain, if restricted.
But that’s not all there is to Fascia: it’s also a sensory organ, extremely rich in nerve endings and receptors, allowing us to perceive our body and the space around it, as well as our inner sense of self.
As Fascia is affected by both physical or emotional trauma, and often both, Fascial Bodywork also allows for a release of emotional responses originated in the trauma.
How can a trained therapist release your Fascia?
Myofascial Release techniques work to change the density, viscosity and tone of the fascia in a permanent or semi-permanent way. Slow & deep movements and long held traction will enable Fascia to ‘melt’ and release restrictions – think of a mix of cornflower and water, solidifying and resisting a spoon that is forcefully dug into it, but allowing the spoon to sink when it’s gently guided in.
Similarly to Yin Yoga, where the poses are held for several minutes, we await the moment when the muscles go from resisting to releasing.
A NEW UNDERSTANDING
In my practice over the last decade I often adopted techniques I hadn’t leaned at school or in any particular course or tutorial. They intuitively came to me, or were possibly the result of an inspiring treatment I received from a colleague. I often felt that I didn’t know why I was doing what I was doing, but it seemed to be working.
I also never understood why certain techniques, according to the schools I had attended, had to be carried out in a specific way. I often silently argued against these rules, not knowing why.
I was lost in a sea of theories, ancient and modern, Eastern & Western. A wide selection of various Body maps collected in my research kept confusing me as everything look different and often contradictory. Techniques shown by teachers to release this and that were to be performed this way, not that way. Yet someone else would say just the opposite.
Studying Fascia has validated my intuition, and clarified that the theories I have learnt in the East are not contradicting Western theories, rather science is now finally proving the mechanisms of Ancient Eastern Medical and Bodywork practices. It also showed me that, when looked at from a Fascial perspective, a common ground for all those differing theories to come together and support each other is now available. It has also made me aware that Massage is not just a temporary relief for chronic pain and structural imbalance, it can actually produce changes at a permanent or semi-permanent level, if a well-trained therapist works together with the client.
My practice is changing further, faster than it has ever done in the last 15 years. And more than ever I am trusting in my intuition.