Fascial Release and Finding Your Center

I feel like one of the most important things about fascial release is that it is so general. The fascial system is continuous throughout the entire body down to the cellular level. Dysfunction in one area can cause symptoms in other areas. It assists in providing form but also allows for movement as well. There is the nervous system effect of Fascial Release and there is the actual shortening of the Fascial Tissue itself in some circumstances. Ultimately, in my experience, what I have experienced is inappropriate shortening of tissue that takes the body out of it’s most efficient positions causing limited range of motion of the body and can include reduced range of motion, weakness, pain and neurological symptoms to name a few.

Finding your center is such an important process as it is this place where you are centered and moving most efficiently. What can happen with shortened fascia is that it can send inappropriate messages to the brain that you are at end range of your motion, whether it be in the shoulder, neck, ribs, hips, low back to name a few. After a while, the brain will accept this reduced range of motion as being normal and a cycle can re-occur.

An example of this that has become common is due to our postural positions during the day, our heads are pulled forward and down and our shoulders are pulled forward and inward due to computer use/ phone use/ sitting at a desk/ driving ect. When we are in this position for long enough the tissues in the front of the neck and the front rib area will send information about position to the brain and eventually, the brain will assume that this less than optimal position is considered normal. Clinically, it causes the upper back and neck to work harder and to fatigue more quickly causing things like reduced shoulder range of motion with pain, burning pain between the shoulder blades, neck pain with reduced motion of the neck, jaw pain, numbness/tingling/pain down the arm to name a few. From a treatment perspective, my approach is to reduce the symptoms where they present but more importantly to make it easier for the client to bring their posture back to a place for the shoulders function better, the upper back and neck muscles don’t have to work so hard and the jaw is able to sit in a better place.

Here is a good test for you. Drop your breast bone down an inch and slouch forward. Bring your arms out to the side, bring them back down and then rotate your head from side to side and get a sense as to when your shoulders tighten and to how far your neck will rotate side to side. Then bring up your breast bone 2-3 inches. You will feel your shoulder blades come together as you move out of the slouch position. Then bring your arms out to the sides, bring them back down. Then rotate your head again. You should feel like your arms move higher up to the side and that your neck rotates more easily from side to side. This is the position that you should be in, where the shoulders and neck work better. Tight fascial pulls you out of this optimal position and makes it feel unnatural to try to get to. This is why Fascial Work is so important. It will help make it easier to find this optimal position where everything works more efficiently.

Often it’s difficult to properly describe the full effects of fascial release but in a nut shell, it help you go where your body will work better, be stronger, more mobile and suffer less symptoms. It’s my job to help you to get there.

Deep Tissue Massage…..but not too deep.

With Deep Tissue Massage, the philosophy out there generally is deeper is better. Push hard, go deep. A teacher brought up a really important point about this type of treatment. They said “don’t think of the tissues as a one way system ie: the brain tells it what to do”. There are so many receptors in the tissues that also feed information to the brain. The connection is a two way system. If our work is too deep, too fast the brain may perceive this as a threat and tighten the muscles in response. In my teachers own words “if we think we can overcome a tight muscle by pressure that is too deep, we will probably lose that fight”. It seems to be a place of listening to the tissues. How much pressure will they allow us to use before beginning to tighten? The irony is, the more we listen and only use the appropriate pressure, the deeper we can get into a muscle or tissue. It will take a little bit longer but at the end the treatment was more effective and the patient leaves happy and not feeling like they were beaten up.

I have had instances where I can barely touch the tissue as it is too painful for the client. I only press to their tolerance, wait for the tissues to release, then go a little deeper to the edge of the patient’s tolerance again and repeat. It is amazing how the body will let us go to depths that would have been impossible in the beginning.

Be gentle and go deep.