Have you ever wondered why you can’t reach your toes? Why you’re experiencing pain in your shoulders? Or why you feel restricted in certain movements? The answer might be just right under your skin and it’s called fascia.
For a very long time it was assumed that bones were the frame, muscles, the motor, and the fascia just packaging of the body. However in the last few years researches brought about a new demand for attention to the fascial system.
What is fascia exactly and what does it do?
Fascia means band or bundle in latin. It is the body’s connective tissue that wraps around individual internal parts, keeping them separate and allowing them to glide and move easily. You can imagine it cling film which covers all the bones, muscles and organs and basically holds the entire body together.
When the fascia is in a healthy state it’s smooth, flexible, supple and slides easily allowing the body to move freely and return back to its normal state. However, maintaining optimal flexibility, shape and texture of the fascia is very hard. Our fascia can often become tight and this forms restrictions, adhesions which can lead to mobility issues, lack of flexibility, lack of body symmetry and a feeling of discomfort which can result in pain and injury.
What makes the fascia unhealthy?
Many of us live a stressful, sedentary lifestyle which leads to a lack of exercise, poor posture, and chronic stress. All these factors can cause damage to the connective tissue. Not getting enough sleep, performing repetitive movements, a lack of water and an unbalanced diet also can result in trauma of the fascia. However, the good news is that it’s more than possible to reverse any harm and the fascia has an incredible self- healing property – although this can take time!
How to improve fascia health?
Stress management is key as well as trying to find balance in your mind and body. Remember that your body needs to rest sometimes and try to take some extra time to relax. There are many ways to help which include trying different forms of meditation, ensuring you get plenty of sleep and trying to spend more time outside in nature.
It’s also vital that you spend time on stretching. Not only after a workout but try to start your morning stretching out from head to toe as during the night we are very static and therefore the fascia can get sticky which is why we often experience stiffness in the morning. Try to hold your stretches for between 30-60 seconds and take them slowly and gently whilst taking deep breaths so nothing is forced. The longer you hold the stretch and the more you relax into it, the more you will start to improve your body’s mobility and flexibility to be able move your muscles through their full range of motion.
It’s also important to gain some strength as well as working on your coordination and body awareness. All these are key elements to improving your overall mobility. Using a foam roller is an amazing way to release tight spots and acts as a ‘self-massage tool’ to help you to soften the fascia and release muscular tension. The key is to start slowly focusing on any particularly tight spots and taking some gentle rolling movements. The more often you do it the easier it gets and the less tension you will find in the body!
The final point is to remember to keep yourself hydrated – have you read our recent blog which asks, ‘Are you drinking enough water’? We know that staying hydrated is essential for our overall health but it also helps us to stay flexible as we are able to avoid friction in the muscles which can cause faster muscle fatigue and tension.
Keeping all of these points in mind will help you to move freely without any restriction and enable you to be pain free in your everyday life.