Fascia is a new and mysterious system of the body to most and the principles for caring for it can feel confusing or overwhelming. You’ve probably been taught stretching, strength training or foam rolling to help your body heal or stay flexible and healthy. You may have found that using those techniques may have not helped as you would have like them too. What happened was the fascia is not being engaged or released during those activities. While they are all useful tools for healthy living if there are restrictions throughout your fascial system then the results won’t be as long lasting or as effective. Adding in these 3 ways to care for your fascia are a wonderful addition to your self- care routine.
Let’s start with a brief intro to fascia. Fascia is a whole body system made up of a three dimensional web. The web consists of micro- tubule fibers that sit in a gel like substance called the ground matrix. The fascia surrounds and supports every other system in our body. It also acts as a shock absorb-er as we move through the forces of life, protecting us and keeping us from harm.
In a healthy state, the fibers slide and glide upon each other and the gel is hydrated and fluid. When overused like repetitive activities or we have holding patterns (clenching your teeth, bracing, hunched shoulders) or surgical scars, the fascia clumps down like glue. The fibers begin to stick together like a clump of cooked spaghetti left without water and the gel like substance dehydrates.
When left un-stretched or released the tissue hardens. You may feel some of these harden areas of your body. Most people talk to me about the knots in their shoulders. This is the clumping or hardening of the fascia which surround every fiber of the muscle even down to the cellular level.
1. Start your morning with Myofascial Stretching
Did you ever notice how a dog or a cat stretches and yawns in the morning? They will elongate their entire body. Paws stretched out in front. Let’s learn from our four legged friends and wake our bodies up with some gentle myofascial stretches. Imagine that you are just waking up and you reach your arms over your head to stretch. You elongate or telescope your arms and hands away from your body. This elongation engages the fascia. Now, lets have you hold the stretch for 3- 5 minutes. This is the time that is needed to un-stick the stuck fascia and allow for lengthen of the tissue. Some key points along with the elongation and time factor is to not force but rather to bring your body to end of range than allow the fascia to release with time. You may stay with the stretch for the 3-5 minutes or you may feel a spontaneous movement while the tissue unravels and unwinds.
Adding these few principles to any stretch will allow you to stretch the shorten and dehydrated fascia.
2. Connect with your body
Our bodies are always communicating with us through sensations. One of the sensations is PAIN. Start to think about Pain as a message. As a way that our body is communicating with us. Just like a hunger baby may whimper or move a bit and if it is not noticed or attended to the baby will get louder and louder until he/she is cared for. Our bodies work in a similar way, yet most of us live very disconnected from different areas of our bodies. You may not feel the sensation that the body is sending until the body is loud and screaming.
Tuning in and connecting with your body will help you feel the subtle sensations. You need to feel the pain so that you can work with it. For example, you may feel cold. Feeling cold is a way your body is communicating with you. It may be saying that you have a fever or you need a jacket but if you are ignoring it your bodies needs will not be met.
Body scans, meditation, grounding exercises and staying present during your stretching are all ways that you can connect your body. A highly skilled Myofascial Release Therapist will guide you to connect with your body throughout your session and can provide you with exercises that you can do at home.
3. Jiggle, Jiggle, Jiggle
Jiggling also known as Self rebounding is another technique that you can use at home to release your fascial restrictions. When we jiggle, it creates a wave like motion in our bodies that breaks up or releases the tight, stuck fascia.
Try standing with your legs hips with apart, shoulders and neck relaxed and arms by your side. Imagine that your body is being supported by your feet. Feel into your feet as they support your body. Keeping your body soft, bend and straighten your knees creating a rhythmic wave motion. Keep feeling into your body as you jiggle, notice which areas feel rigid or smooth, which feel heavy or light. Follow your own rhythm which may change as you move along and restrictions being to release.
Jiggle for 5 or so minutes. Try jiggling to different upbeat music.
Adding these simple tools to your self care routine will help you to live a Pain- free, Authentic Life.