Whether you have tight muscles, scar tissue, or dimpled thighs, fascia is now in the spotlight as the culprit – and rightly so. But what is fascia and how do you fix it?
lt all started with a MISDIAGNOSED Baker’s Cyst on the back of my right knee that had just been injected with ozone. I had prior experience with ozone injections for dental issues that worked tremendously well, so I had no reason to think this one would be any different But the explosive pain that started shortly after the injection and continued to get worse for several months afterward, told me that this was not what my body had been asking for to heal.
Pains shot up my thigh, tensing up my entire leg and causing me to compensate with my other side when I walked. It wasn’t long before the healthy side felt stiff, my joints felt arthritic, and all the excess cortisol from the stress of the pain was causing me to gain a “spare tire” around my middle! The battery of tests I’d had and the variety of treatments I had tried were all unsuccessful – until I discovered the role of fascia.
The trauma from the ozone being injected created a perfect storm of adhesions in my fascia that kept me in constant pain. But, once I learned about the role my fascia was playing, I was relieved to find therapies and supplements that helped, and was thrilled to find immense pain relief in it all. Fortunately, fascia has become a household word now and it is much better understood and more quickly diagnosed today than it was when I was having issues.
Rich in collagen, fascia is a sheet or band of tissue that provides structure and acts as a divider between muscles and other internal organs. Fascia is more than just a divider or layer of packaging – it protects every part of you, helps you keep the shape of your body, takes part in every movement you make, and is involved in every injury you’ve ever had. And fascia is the key player in your scars, adhesions, tight muscles, dimpled thighs, and unexplained pain. Fascia that has become fixed, immobile, and “glued together” can even be misdiagnosed as arthritis.
Since fascia is so important, why haven’t we been talking about it before? Well, it’s complicated.
Fascia isn’t like other tissues in the body. It can’t be neatly dissected and studied in medical schools. Its functions can be subtle and hard to distinguish from other tissues.
Fascia is sticky, messy, expansive, and intertwined, somewhat like a multitude of spiderwebs all crisscrossing and woven together – around your most important organs and muscles. It’s strong and stiff enough to give you structure, but smooth enough to glide and slide. It’s slippery, wet, and can contract when it senses movement and impact.
The problems come when you haven’t been active or moving much, when you’re under stress for prolonged periods of time, or when you lack flexibility or have poor posture. All of these conditions restrict the movement and flow of fascia, thickening the fibers, clumping it into adhesions, and cementing the once freely mobile fibers into one place. The good news is you can reverse the damage. Just like muscles stretch and can be massaged into relaxation, fascia can be worked to regain its flexibility.
Free Your Fascia and Get Moving Again
Your fascia is all connected. It weaves its webs around your 600 muscles, diving deep and forming pockets difficult to reach from the surface of your skin. Your lymph system is like a liquid tissue that traverses the entire network of your fascia. This means that when you get your lymph moving, you also help to free up your restricted fascia, similar to how water moving over rocks can change their shape over time.
Since the lymph system doesn’t have a pump like your bloodstream does, it’s up to you to get it moving mechanically. Start slow and work your way up in both time and intensity, especially if you have pain or other health conditions. Here are my favorite ways to get your lymph moving and free up your fascia:
- On the Rebound. Even 5 minutes each day on the mini trampoline or rebounder, bouncing lightly or walking on the balls of your feet, is enough to get your lymph moving.
- Hydrate and Stimulate. Lymph fluid is just like any other fluid in your body – you need water to keep the supply up. Stay hydrated all day long so waste products are flushed out of the lymph and it stays free flowing. Next, stimulate the superficial flow by dry brushing. It’s the fascia that’s only millimeters below the skin where the lymph is the most concentrated. You don’t need anything more intense or invasive than dry brushing to get lymph moving, and free up fascia.
- Stretch Yourself. Tight muscles restrict and tighten fascia over time. This creates a vicious cycle, where the muscles become compressed and tighten even more, which leads to nerve compression and pain. Relax in a warm Epsom salt bath (or one of my other detox baths you can find here), stretch your muscles, and follow it up with rebounding or other light activity to really get your lymph flowing.
- Yin for the Win. Yin Yoga not only helps you stretch your muscles and get lymph flowing, but when you hold the poses, it can facilitate the breaking up of scar tissue and fascial adhesions. When it comes to fascia, gentle yoga is more effective than more intense pressure and exercise. Fascia can withstand the pressure of 200 pounds or more, so poking, prodding, and trying to force it will only result in injury or disfigurement.
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