We all suffer injuries at some point in our life, and I’m no exception. When I was asked by many of my patients the best modality that helped me recover from a broken leg, I would have to say it was fascial work. I respect the fascia when treating it and this is why I advocate for a slower gentle approach that focuses on holding and stretching the tissue, thereby giving the nervous system a chance to catch up so a more sustained change can take place. Fascia houses nervous tissue and sensory receptors as evidenced by a world-renowned Anatomist Dr. Carla Stecco. This is often why treatment will reveal larger extension patterns to primary pain areas that often appear unrelated. Truly fascial tissue is a bridge connecting many anatomical areas. In other words, the pain might be felt in a leg even if treatment is occurring to the low back.
“After two decades using many clinical soft-tissue treatment techniques, fascial work is my favorite because it works”.
Often when we combine massage therapy techniques like fascial release, active release therapy (ART), joint play, and moist heat, we get closer to the root cause of the issue because each of these treatments offers a different tact to target adhered or hyper-toned tissue bands. I believe that fascia has a direct reflex response on a conscious and subconscious level as many subsidiary issues resolve secondary to a primary injury when fascial work is applied. Fascial work could even be called a body tissue reset.
Like the bark of a tree having inner and outer layers, fascial tissue is similar. It too has an inner and outer structure. It is a complex array of hydrated tissue containing hyaluronic acid, similar to that found in joints. It surrounds every muscle fiber and houses important sensory and neural structures. This is why it is important to treat in athletic injuries because tissues need to work in harmony and feel good to have that competitive edge. Fascia is not a structure solely on its own and it could be considered a major communicator of our tissues translating the health of individual tissues by referring messages to our brain. Little, “Hello, I’m here pokes” when you feel discomfort or referred pain.
Fascia, when dysfunctional, is one of the major players in Central Sensitization Syndrome, previously known as Fibromyalgia. Fascia can be like a lightbulb registering the health of underlying tissues and giving us early warning signals. Movement is key to keeping this structure supple. That’s why yoga is so crucial in sports.
So the next time you have an athletic injury or even stiffness from an active lifestyle, keep fascial treatment in mind. I have seen exceptional results with this technique over two decades. Nothing is a quick fix but fascial tissue work is gentle and moves the tissue with a silent barrage of light touch to change its hydration status lending to improvements often felt by patients.