When I started to study massage, I found some of the terminology bewildering and thought it might be helpful to explain a few terms in the next few blog posts, starting with the fascia here, as it always seemed so mysterious to me.
What is Fascia?
Fascia is a white, fibrous connective tissue found in all parts of the body in different lengths and thicknesses. There are two types of fascia: superficial and deep.
Superficial fascia lies under the skin over almost the whole of the body. Its main functions are to:
- facilitate the movement of the skin
- act as a medium for the passage of nerves and blood vessels
- retain body heat
- connect the skin with the deep fascia.
Deep fascia is a dense, stiff membrane that forms a sheath over muscles and broad attachment points for muscles. Its main function is to provide tension and pressure to assist muscle action.
This classic video clip was recommended to me and helped my understanding of fascia, so is worth watching if you don’t mind seeing a dissection of a human cadaver.
Disorders of the Fascia
Problems can occur with the fascia. It can become ‘sticky’ and impair mobility, for example causing stiffness in muscles. Knots can form in the fascia (as well as in the muscles), affecting muscle action and causing pain (more about this in my next post on trigger points).
Using Massage to Treat Myofascial Problems
Certain massage techniques can help free up the fascia and muscles. This is known as myofascial release, which may be a term that you are familiar with. It involves applying sustained pressure and stretching to the restricted connective tissue and muscles to restore motion and alleviate pain. This video clip will give you an idea of what it entails.
If you think that you would benefit from a deep tissue massage incorporating myofascial release to free up the fascia and muscles or a relaxing treatment (Swedish, Indian head massage or shiatsu) to prevent stress-related myofascial problems, do get in touch.