The Importance of Myofascial Tissue
Fascia is fibrous connective tissue present throughout the entire body. Superficial fascia is associated with the skin, deep fascia, with the muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels, and visceral fascia with the organs of the body. Muscles are contained within a fascial sheath. A muscle consists of a large number of muscle fibres. The outer sheath is a muscle is called the epimysium. Within this the cells are grouped into fasciculi which is wrapped in its own connective tissue called perimysium. Within the fascicles are individual muscle fibres that are wrapped in endomysium. Fascia encompasses the epimysium and separates the muscles so that they can work independently. Deep fascia holds the muscle together and keeps it in its correct place, and provides a lubricated surface allowing muscles to work smoothly against each other, as well as encouraging circulation in veins and lymphatics.
When you are inactive due to injury for example, fascia can start to bind together. This can decrease the freedom of movement between adjacent structures leading to stiffness and tightness, limiting normal range of movement. Dysfunction elsewhere in the body along the length of fascia could be caused by this binding as fascia under stress can act as a barrier for lymphatic, nervous and venous tissues to pass through unrestricted, possibly creating tension. These adhesions impair muscle function and can slow healing times after injury.
Restricting a muscle by the fascia not growing at the same rate as the muscle is known as compartment syndrome. Proper functioning deep fascia would normally expand to accommodate the new size of a muscle. When compartment syndrome occurs, there will be increased tension on the fascia, possible blood starvation to distal areas, pain and dysfunction. Myofascial (or Connective Tissue) Release is a technique used to help avoid such problems, and work to balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. By working to move the fascial fibres over a muscle, rather than working into a muscles fibres themselves, this can be achieved.
Optimal performance and posture is often attributed primarily to the musculoskeletal system, but more evidence is being obtained on the significance of the fascial network and how this system is vital in maintaining control of both posture and movement. The fascial network encompasses all connective tissues of the body, from cartilage, bones, tendons and ligaments, to adipose, muscles, nerves, blood vessels and joint capsules.
This fascial network integrates into every part of the entire body and so creates continuous myofascial linkages that specifically connect regions of the body. These are responsible for controlling body position, maintaining posture and allowing smooth movement. These linkages can also help to dampen force throughout the body and transfer force from the lower extremities to the trunk and upper extremities.
The tensegrity of the fascial network helps to enable maintenance of posture and coordinated movement. There are distinct differences between the superficial and deep fascia systems. The integration of muscles and joints within the Deep Myofascial System (DMS) enables the ability to exert specific control over joint position and movement. An imbalance between the DMS and the Superficial Myofascial System (SMS) allows an increased possibility for developing compensatory postural or movement strategies. Inhibition of the DMS causes a person to adopt a compensatory strategy and increases activity of the SMS.
This imbalance of the two systems alters joint alignment, increases tone of muscle, and directly contributes to postural issues. Restoring balance of these two systems will improve function and control of movement.
Please contact me if you think that you could benefit from Myofascial Release Technique.