Fascia (fash e-ah) A sheet
or band of fibrous connective tissue that lies deep to the skin
or forms a sheath for muscles and various organs of the body. Fascia
allows muscle groups to work independently of each other as each
muscle/muscle group is segregated within its own sheath(s).
Two common afflictions of the fascia are shortening and adhesions.
Shortening of the fascia occurs due to posture or disuse e.g. if
you have your arm bent in a sling for even a week, you will find
it very difficult to straighten. The fascia, which has shortened
to fit the length of the muscles, refuses to lengthen because of
its high tensile strength. The same thing happens, to a lesser degree,
due to posture, how we hold our heads and how we hold our backs
and shoulders. Shortened fascia through disuse happens when we limit
the uses for our bodies. Trauma or disuse generally causes adhesions.
When subjected to trauma, extra fluid is secreted to allow the muscles
to work during the injury. The body sometimes has difficulty absorbing
the excess lubricant and some of it dries causing the fascias to
stick together or adhere. Disuse can be as simple as keeping your
forearm stationary when using mouse or trackball. With normal usage,
a more or less thick lubricant allows free movement of fascia over
other fascia. When subjected to disuse, this fluid can begin to
dry causing the fascias to stick together. Adequate water intake
will lessen the likelihood of these drying effects.
Adhesions cause muscles in the affected area to work harder as they
cannot slide along the other muscles. Instead of sliding easily,
the muscle pulls the adhered muscle along with it. These adhesions
can compress and block the nerve from stretching or getting proper
blood (nutrient/waste) circulation. The resultant weakness, paresthesias
(an abnormal sensation, as of burning, prickling, etc. on the skin)
and reproducible neurological signs from the compromised nerve may
lead an examiner to the improper diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome
and a possibly unnecessary carpal tunnel surgery. A simple test
can tell if myofascial release will relieve the symptoms. The treatment
is safe and there are specific exercises that can prevent reoccurrence
of the symptoms.
Shortened fascia and adhesions also limit range of motion in many
parts of the body. Everyone has tight shoulders and neck at times.
Myofascial release techniques can lengthen tendons and ease tight
joints allowing for more freedom of motion and smoother action in
the muscles and joints.