Fascia - What is it?

Fascia (also called connective tissue) reaches through all body elements like a supporting net or spider web that extends without interruption from the top of the head to the tip of the toes. It surrounds and invades every tissue and organ of the body, including nerves, vessels, muscle and bone.

Because fascia permeates all regions of the body and is all interconnected, when it scars and hardens in one area (following injury, inflammation, disease, surgery, etc.) it can put tension on adjacent pain-sensitive structures as well as on structures in far-away areas. If a fly gets caught in a spider web, there’s a snag, a tightening of the web in that area. Everything is pulled toward that snag, particularly as the fly moves around. The entire web is changed, not just the area the fly is entrapped in. Some people have bizarre pain symptoms that appear to be unrelated to the original or primary complaint. A good example is the person with chronic low back pain. Although the low back is primarily involved, the person may also have significant discomfort in the neck. This is due to the gradual tightening of the muscles and especially of the fascia, as this tightness has crept its way up the back, eventually creating neck and head pain. Experience shows that optimal resolution of the low back pain requires release of the fascia of both the head and the neck.

A key to the success of this fascia release is to keep the pressure extremely mild. Fascia has been estimated to have a tensile strength of as much as 2000 pounds per square inch. (No wonder when it tightens it causes pain). However, under a small amount of pressure (applied by the therapists hands), the fascia will soften and begin to release. This can be likened to pulling on a piece of taffy with a very small, sustained pressure. Fascia release is gentle but has a profound effect upon the body tissues. Do not let the gentleness deceive you.

Acute cases will resolve with a few treatments. The longer the problem has been present, generally the longer it will take to resolve the problem. At times there is increased discomfort for several hours to a day after a treatment, followed by remarkable improvement. Other times, there is remarkable improvement noted immediately during or after a treatment. Sometimes new pains in new areas will be experienced. Sometimes a person will experience a temporary emotion change. All of these are normal reactions of the body to the profound, but positive changes that have occurred by releasing fascia restrictions.

Taken from Myofascial Release an Introduction for the Patient by Tim Juett and John F. Barnes & The Endless Web by R Louis Schultz, and Rosemary Feitis.