The fascial network is an integrated system of connective tissue fibres covering the entire body. Connective tissue is tissue that connects, supports, binds, or separates other tissues or organs. Myotherapists assess restrictions within this network to help understand functional movement patterns or dysfunctions of the body. Treatment to the fascial network is used to structurally balance the body to create smoother movements, improve posture and increase vitality.
Within the fascial network there is a smaller sub section call the myofascial, this is the same connective tissue fibres however this wraps around each individual muscles. When the muscles get tight, over worked or weakened, the fascia around them also becomes tight and restricted inhibiting movement and functionality of the muscles.
The functional component of fascia is important to consider when maintaining and developing control over posture. This is important for injury prevention and avoiding the development of compensation patterns. If you were to look around and observe people on the train, in the office sitting at desk, even just standing on streets, it can become easy to see signs of the bodies fascial network fighting against the pull of gravity. These changes affect our posture; poked out necks, slumped chest, hunched shoulders, often resulting with compensation patterns, reductions in range or quality of movement and eventually pain or injury.
Changes to the structure of the body’s fascia can be caused by gravity or unbalanced posture, poor occupation habits, patterns of body use- using one side of the body to the other, and stressed tissues from repetitive use, emotional stresses and lack of conditioning or self-care.
Pathologies commonly associated with the fascial network are; plantar fasciitis, lower back pain, fibromyalgia and neural entrapment syndromes such as carpal tunnel. There is also some research which suggests that there is a correlation between stress levels, anxiety and blood pressure.
Myotherapy can used to help treat pathologies associated with the fascial network, as well as postural correction, improve functional movement and decrease tension and pain.
This is done by using a variety of myofascial release techniques
- Neural Mobilisation exercises
- Self- Stretching
- Myofascial Dry needling
- Strengthening Exercise
- Postural awareness
- Postural visualisation
As the connective tissues are treated, the fibres are lengthened and altered from their current position of tightness and then the brain rearranges them into a more streamline position. This creates space, reduces tension and increases elasticity allowing the muscles and body to move with more ease. The body is then able to reset its postural position making it easier to stand up straight, bend down with more fluidity and increase muscle length and strength, this leads to a reduction in pain and discomfort, allowing a greater sense of well-being and performance.
It is important to remember that a lot of fascial tightness occurs over a period of time, slowly adapting to the pulling force, so to reverse these changes it may take some time too. The body often remembers these positions and tries to return to them once we go back to doing a certain activity i.e. sitting at a desk. Alongside treatment, we can incorporate corrective exercises, strengthening and stretching, changes to lifestyles and occupation environments, and most importantly learn about postural awareness.
If you have any further questions about the fascial system ask your Myotherapist.
By Leah Rampling – Elite Myotherapist