Fascia: You’ve heard the word, but what is it?

What is Fascia?  

Fascia is a three-dimensional matrix (or webbing) which interpenetrates, supports and wraps all organs & tissues within the human body. This unique covering gives form and function to the bloodstream, musculoskeletal system, nervous system, organs, bone tissue and meningeal tissue.  

It’s a broad fabric-like connective tissue that makes up 16% of our body’s total weight and holds 25% of its water content. The unique properties and gel-base allow for pressure against the tissue to distribute over a large surface without compressive forces. This minimizes any potential damage to localized tissue.  

So what does all this mean? Fascia is the sea that our bones float in. It provides lubrication between the bones and muscles to move smoothly. In other words, it’s the glue that holds us together and gives shape to the body.  

The fascia system is a continuous network which unlike muscle, does not stop at the bone. Its fibers crisscross in multiple directions and anatomical planes. Muscular movement is facilitated by the fascia, which can also restrict activity.  

What to expect when receiving a fascia treatment?  

Fascia treatments to the head, neck and jaw are effective and generally less discomforting to the person receiving the release.  

Gentle pressure is applied to engage the tissue, but not to create a strong force. The idea is to allow the tissue to guide the way and enable a release of the fascia and the surrounding muscles. 

A constant pressure is applied in one area, such as the neck. My first 2 fingers of one hand are placed as an anchor just below the bone behind the ear and the same 2 fingers of the other hand applies the pressure to the tissue. I then wait for the slow release as the release moves my fingers further down the muscle being treated. This same technique can be done with the muscles located under the chin and those located below the base of your skull.  

When releasing the muscles located within the mouth, a light pressure is applied with one finger (gloved), and again we wait for the tissue to guide us further. 

This process can take up to 2 minutes before a change in the tissue occurs. You, the client, may experience a feeling of a pulse, heat, or a light burning sensation in the area as this change occurs.  

Most clients feel less tension, a decrease in pain, and more movement within the area after receiving fascia work. It is possible to experience some general soreness lasting a couple hours after treatment. Heat can be applied to the area worked on which can help improve further circulation. 

Benefits to a fascia treatment of the head, neck and jaw include; increased range of motion, longer-lasting results, decreased muscle soreness after treatment, increased circulation, and decreased pain. 

Melissa MacIntosh, RMT

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