Myofascia - What in the world is it? And why do I care?
Myofascia and fascia. We are hearing these words more often these days. That’s mainly because the medical field is finally becoming more aware of just how significant a role they play in our daily function. Not only pertaining to disease prevention, (chronic pain and dysfunction) but by tapping into its secrets you can actually harness its incredible potential! Fascia is a type of connective tissue that infiltrates deep into our bodies wrapping every organ, nerve, blood vessel, muscle and muscle group, bone, tendon and the like. Imagine a spider’s web layered a few thousand times. It’s full, strong, and flexible. But in the case of fascia it is denser, more collagenous at some points, like at tendons and ligaments and very loose and flexible at others places such as organs and blood vessels. Using its spider web like abilities it pulls and holds confidently the structure of all of our little details. In fact, scientists have realized that it is more important to our posture and function than even our skeleton is.
This amazing feature is so dominating that it can become a severe contributor to general and specific pain and dysfunction in our bodies. For instance, when you sit at an office desk or in a car for most of the day your myofascia (muscular fascia) is holding you with all of its might to keep you stable while you tend to phone calls and return emails. For those driving, it helps keep you vigilant while on the road. In fact the way it engages is quite comparable to how our muscles function. Fibers throughout the tissue “turn on” and stay purposefully engaged to hold your body in its exact position so that you can go on through your day without falling all over the place. After repeated tension in your fascia over days and weeks, your fascia becomes trained to stay “locked” in those positions. Little adhesions begin to form to hold the fibers in place and your tissue, day after day can begin to harden and become more collagenous due to the forming of adhesions (scar tissue). This hardening and simultaneous shortening of the fascial tissue can lead to lack of blood flow, and eventually pain. Once fascia becomes “stuck” it will throw off the balance of the muscular and fascial system and have negative effects on the surrounding and opposing muscles. Basically all of this equals pain and dysfunction.
The great news is that if you use your fascia in a balanced way by stretching and/or massage, you can tap into its secrets and unlock its amazing potential. With daily stretching or weekly massages, you can keep the fascial system nice and supple, allowing free movement and flow of organs, nerve and blood vessels, muscles, and more. When your fascia is nice and loose, all the systems in your body work more efficiently, increasing your energy and overall wellbeing.
That’s not the end of its secrets. Myofascia contributes to our power and strength! That’s right, not only are those “muscle-type” fibers engaged to hold a position, it can actually apply force! These tissue fibers are able to store energy. Imagine a jump. When crouching to spring up using our leg muscles we are storing potential in our fascia. As soon as your brain sends the signal to fire, your muscles and myofascial system work together (your muscles using a lever system while fascia acts as a spring) to shoot you up toward the sky.
So you can see why having healthy fascial tissue is crucial for all of us. It prevents dysfunction, and has a better potential or stored energy. Energy that we use both in dynamic and everyday movement and posture.