You may or may not have heard about fascia, but it is an important part of your body that has strong implications in how your body feels and functions. So we think it deserves a little more attention. Here’s a little information about what fascia is and how you can help yours.
Fascia, which means “band” or “bundle” in Latin, surrounds, connects and supports our muscles, organs, bones, tendons, ligaments and other structures of the body. Similar to the membrane around each section of an orange, fascia both separates and connects body parts at the same time. Containing nerves, these tissues also serve as a layer of protection and body awareness.
Benefits of Myofascial Release
Releasing fascial adhesions is like clearing out the cobwebs between the muscles, allowing them to slide and glide more efficiently, which increases hydration and elimination of toxins. Freeing up the muscles in this way allows them to begin function independently, contracting and releasing to their fullest potential. Myofascial release also increases range of motion and reduces pain and recovery time. Plus, since our fascia is rich with nerves, clearing up these tissues creates a direct pathway for nerve signals to flow to the brain, which aids body awareness (proprioception), coordination, and our ability to control our movements.
Why the Fascia Requires Special Attention
Many fact ors in our daily life, including poor postural habits, stress-induced muscular tension, limited movement, injury and dehydration, can cause velcro-like adhesions to form within the fascia, sticking muscles together, and restricting their ability to perform their individual functions. Forced to move and work as a team, the muscles become less efficient.
Three Yoga Poses That Can Do to Release The Fascia and Reduce Pain
1. Cobra Pose – Bhujangasana
Begin lying on your stomach, ground into the top of the feet and zip up the lower abdomen while pressing hands down to lift head and chest off of the floor. Draw shoulders down the back and relax through the glutes. Stay for a breath and repeat 3–4 times.
2. Warrior II – Virabhadrasana B
Align front heel with back arch, stacking front knee over ankle and front toes pointing straight forward. Open hips toward the side of the mat as the tailbone lengthens and the ribs knit back to stack the shoulders over the waist. On the inhale, straighten both legs and as you exhale lower down into your Warrior II pose. Repeat this movement with the breath for 3–5 cycles.
3. Savasana – Occiput Release
Lay comfortably on your back and place a sock with two tennis balls or lacrosse balls inside (be sure to knot the end so the balls stay close together) positioned at the base of the skull (see picture for reference.) Close the eyes and begin by resting the weight of the head into the two balls. Without lifting the head, turn your face about halfway to the right side until you find a tight ropey muscle. Rest the weight of the head into the ball for 60 seconds as you try to relax the neck muscles here. Slowly bring the chin back to center and repeat on the second side.
Give these yoga techniques a try. If you are still experiencing pain or stiffness you may need help from a professional who can get to the root cause of you problem. Physical Therapists are highly trained professionals who can help you improve the health and function of your fascia.
Julietta Wenzel, PT