You would be hard-pressed to walk into a massage therapy, chiropractic, or physiotherapy office today and not find somebody who offers some sort of myofascial or fascial-release treatment.
Myofascial treatments are becoming more and more common, for good reason. It turns out that dysfunctions in the myofascial system have far-reaching effects, from decreased range of motion and associated pains to postural dysfunctions and related ailments.
For many clients, getting a myofascial treatment is incredibly beneficial and, in some cases, essential. Even if our clients come to treatment without any ailments or complaints, helping them keep their fascia as healthy as possible can help prevent it from becoming problematic.
Aside from seeking treatment from a fascial-work practitioner, here are three things you can do to keep your fascial system healthy:
1. Stay Hydrated
The fascial system is comprised of fibers, cells, and the extracellular matrix (ECM). The ECM makes up the vast majority of fascial tissue and is composed almost entirely of water. While there are many physiological reasons why we should stay hydrated, keeping the fascial system in tip-top shape is near the top of the list. When we are dehydrated, the ECM (which should be a mucus-like substance) becomes thick, sticky, and viscous. This thick stickiness in the ECM leads to fascial adhesions (layers of fascia stuck together). Maintaining proper hydration helps prevent myofascial adhesions.
2. Move Your Body
While it is essential to stay hydrated, drinking enough fluids is only part of the equation. The other part is to make sure that fluid can get to all of the tissues. The best way to do that is to move your body. As you move your body through various novel positions, such as those performed in a yoga class, fluid begins to move through the myofascial system.
Imagine squeezing some dirty water out of a used sponge. Once the pressure is released from the sponge, it can absorb fresh, clean fluid. Our bodies work in a similar way. Stretching works the same way as squeezing the sponge does. Releasing the stretch is like releasing the sponge; it allows new fluid to enter.
One other very effective way to maintain a healthy fascia is through doing “mobility” work. Mobility work involves deeper and more focused work on problem areas, often with the assistance of a tool, ball, or roller to apply pressure directly to the fascia in order to affect positive change.
3. Eat an Anti-inflammatory Diet
Diet and nutrition are loaded subjects these days, but one thing that pretty much everybody agrees on is that the “Standard American Diet” is pro-inflammatory. There are many ill effects of systemic inflammation caused by a highly inflammatory diet. When inflammation affects the fascial system, the body produces a pathological or excessive amount of collagen, a glue-like substance that binds tissues together. Excess amounts of collagen bring excess stickiness, increasing the likelihood of fascial adhesions. Similar to how dehydration can cause adhesions, system inflammation caused by a pro-inflammatory diet can also cause adhesions.
Keeping these three things in mind will significantly reduce the likelihood of developing myofascial adhesions and keep your facial system healthy. If it is within your scope of practice, consider sharing this information with your clients.
Interested in learning more about the fascial system?
You’ll take a deep dive into fascial anatomy, including how fascia becomes dysfunctional and what you can do to keep it healthy. Plus, you can enroll for FREE, and the course is approved by NCBTMB for 1.5 continuing education hours!
- Author: Dr. Jess Reynolds
- Published: August 18, 2022