“Everything is connected” is a common phrase but how is the knee connected to the neck? How does an injury in one area of the body influence function of another?
Over the years I have gained a deepening respect and curiosity for this connective tissue system called Fascia. It is what we are made of each body part, organ and gland can be broken down to this common tissue right down to the cellular level. The fascial system is like a 3 dimensional adaptable body suit that we all wear, it gives us our shape and also our internal support. Fascia starts to remodel itself within minutes of assuming a posture, which is a very key point to note when assessing things like repetitive strain injuries and body mechanics. As these repetitive positions greatly influence how your fascia will adapt and ultimately shape the space you occupy.
A perfect example of this is a prolonged seated position. When rising to walk across the room the first few steps may be stiff, painful and restricted in a position of forward flexion (upper body out in front). This is because the tissues that have been shortened for possibly hours need time to adapt and lengthen in order to stand up straight and allow for ease of movement. If this is a posture that is assumed day after day, week after week it is fair to say that these tissues are going to become adaptively shortened and standing up straight with out pain will become progressively more difficult.
There is good news though, as stated above the fascial system is very adaptable to the needs placed on it. So taking regular movement breaks throughout the day will challenge the shortened tissue to lengthen and the dense supportive tissue to soften. So simply stand up take a breath in as you bring your arms up over head and lean slightly back take another breath in and as you exhale straighten up. You can also add rocking back and forth from toes to heels. This simple exercise enhances the overall state of well being, by increasing oxygen intake, releasing fascial restrictions, lubricating joints of the hips, shoulders, spine and knees and improving mood. There should be no pain, if you do experience any pain ease off a bit and just work within the range of motion available to you in that moment.
Massage Therapy aims to encourage these dense fibrous areas of the body to remodel, increasing range of motion, enhancing blood flow, flexibility and decreasing pain, tension and restrictions. Hands on healing also brings awareness into the tissue and helps you to reconnect to how you are feeling. When there is an increased sense of being in touch with these sensations we begin to develop a true relationship with caring for ourselves, listening and responding to these messages from the body.
For a great visual please check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FtSP-tkSug
Myofascial Release Techniques By Barry Jenings, BA, RMT, CMR
Anatomy Trains- Myofascial Meridians for Manual/Movement Therapists By Thomas W. Myers
Clinically Oriented Anatomy By Keith L. Moore and Arthur F. Dalley
The Fuzz Speech by Gil Hedley Ph.D. Founder of Integral Anatomy Productions