What is fascia?
Fascia is a tough membrane of varying thickness which envelops and separates everything in the body from whole muscle groups and bones down to each individual cell, providing protection and communication. Certain structures are meant to be 'stuck together' eg tendons and ligaments to bones, and many structures are meant to slide in sheaths or are held together with light inter-molecular forces which allow movement.
Fascia is like a three-dimensional net, reaching right through the body, surrounding individual muscle fibres, tendons, ligaments, nerves, organs, lymph vessels, blood vessels and capillaries. Through the meninges and the dural tube fascia plays a crucial role in the central nervous system. Fascia is incredibly strong, with a tensile strength of around 2000 lbs per square inch.
In the normal, hydrated, healthy state, fascia has the ability to stretch and move without restriction.
Because fascia is entirely continuous throughout the body, a restriction in one part will affect every other part.
What are fascial adhesions?
The fibres of ligaments, tendons, muscles, nerves, and vascular structures, surrounded by their fascial tissue, are like strings of a violin in that they run parallel to one another. When fibres tear, it is as though the strings are cut. Ideally, the fibres should heal parallel again (like getting new violin strings), but often this does not happen. Instead, in the body’s enthusiasm to heal, the fibres are not only joined end to end, but they also stick to those running parallel to them, as if all the violin strings were glued together. During stretching, these adhesions are compressed as the muscle elongates and narrows. This causes pain and does little to break the adhesion. The most efficient way to release the unwanted adhesions is by manually widening the distance between the strings of longitudinal fibres.
Secondary adhesions develop between fibres and the surrounding fascia if the situation is allowed to become chronic. This further decreases strength and range of movement. The situation is particularly debilitating where adhesions to fascia are close to bone, tendons or other stationary tissue, because this more severely restricts the mobility of the affected fibres. Unless the affected area is small and localized, it is often too difficult and painful to release the adhesions with stretches. The most efficient way to release the adhesions is by applying a transverse separating force between the longitudinal fibres and their fascia.
Various fibres that glide through sheaths deserve special consideration. Injury or overuse can result in the formation of adhesions between these fibres and their sheaths. In acute cases eg chronic tenosynovitis (inflammation of a tendon sheath), it is the impaired movement between the tendon and its close-fitting sheath that sets up the pain.
Stretching alone tends to simply aggravate the problem, whereas transverse “plucking” usually produces excellent results. It would appear that the torsional force produced by the manipulation releases adhesions between the tendon and its sheath, allowing smooth gliding to be restored. While the causative action was overuse of longitudinal friction, the curative is transverse.
Fascial adhesion release
What is Fascial Adhesion Release for?
Fascial Adhesion Release (FAR) is used for the release of fascia which has become stuck, hardened and dehydrated. Hardening of the fascia occurs in response to physical or emotional trauma. FAR plays an important role in the restoration and enhancement of flexibility both in sport and everyday life. FAR is also necessary for recovery from all types of physical injuries and conditions such as sporting injuries, back and neck pain, whiplash, stress-related muscular tension and repetitive strain injuries.
FAR is also used as a major factor in the treatment of immune system dysfunctions such as Fibromyalgia, CFS, IBS and others.
FAR is an extremely effective method of providing fundamental release from pain and fatigue arising from physical and other trauma such as:
Neck and back pain
Headaches and migraines
Jaw problems, TMJ
Whiplash and other trauma
‘Pulled muscles’ and muscle tears
Scar tissue and other adhesions
RSI, carpal tunnel syndrome
Plantar fasciitis, heel spurs
‘Tendonitis’ and bursitis
Undiagnosed or generalised pain
Stress-related muscular tension
Emotional stress and fatigue associated with physical trauma
Myofascial Pain Syndrome
Colic and chronic abdominal pain
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Fascia and muscular pain
Each muscle fibre has a fascial binding, and so muscle and fascia are functionally linked. Injuries or imbalances in the muscular system will cause the fascia to tighten and dehydrate, and it is often restrictions in fascia which give rise to 'muscle' pain or ‘tendonitis’.
Fascia and other structures
Nerves and circulatory vessels all move through the body wrapped in fascial membranes. If fascia is stuck, it squeezes the structures it surrounds, inhibiting movement and circulation. If fascia is not moving freely the whole area will experience pressure, malnourishment and ultimately painful restriction in movement and at rest.
The wider impact of fascial restrictions
Fascial restrictions play a large part in pain syndromes. Fascia which is restricted can be extremely painful itself and cause surrounding fascia to harden protectively. Structures around restricted fascia cannot move without friction, compounding the problem.
Continuous overload of an area can then lead to compensatory restriction in other areas leading to total fascial restriction in which movement is almost impossible without extreme pain. This will not show up in any orthodox medical tests.
What happens when fascia gets 'stuck'?
Fascia is composed mainly of collagen (40%) and lubricating ground substance. Both muscle with its fascial sheaths and ground substance are 70% water - fascia acts like a sponge. With physical and emotional trauma it dehydrates - water is pushed out - rendering it hard and gel-like, thus reducing the lubricant qualities of the ground substance between the collagen fibres and decreasing the distance between the fibres.
This leads to the collagen fibres shortening, thickening, and sticking together. This puts pressure on the adjacent structures. When this happens more collagen fibres are produced, to help take the strain, leading to an even greater amount of hard fascia in that area.
What is 'Fascial Support Taping'?
Fascia, as well as the structure it supports, can be damaged. This can happen due to an accident, a simple overload, a repetitive load leading to fatigue, or prolonged postural strain. Often it is impractical to properly rest the damaged tissues due to the requirements of daily living or the perceived importance of training in sport. This frequently results in a cycle of ongoing pain and further damage, causing a delayed recovery.
The fascia, and the structures it is supposed to support, can be protected and supported by the application of strategically placed adhesive taping (sports tape) spanning the damaged portion of the affected fascial train (or line of movement). This can provide dramatic relief of pain, and immediately restore range of movement and the ability to return to normal activities.
The tension used in taping provides for the allowance of 'optimal therapeutic stretching' (and no more) of the injured tissues. This leads to the fastest healing outcome. The injured person can generally be taught to re-apply tape until the injury has recovered, and taping should be used for all 'aggravating activities' until healing is complete. It should be noted that the amount of optimal therapeutic stretching or movement to be allowed will gradually increase as healing progresses. Healing is considered to be complete when the strength and flexibility of the tissue under repair allows normal activities without support.
Fascial Support Taping is ideal for situations where the healing of damaged tissue is adversely affected by activities or movements that are difficult to avoid. Used correctly it can relieve pain, and allow a return to normal activities, work or training.