Fascial Manipulation (FM) release treatment is a safe and very effective hands-on technique that involves applying gentle sustained pressure into the myofascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion. As this is a fairly complex physiological subject, this treatment has been divided into two articles in order to make it much easier to consider as a form of therapy.
Part 1 – Introduction to Fascia (this article).
Let’s understand what the fascia is (relative to the body).
The fascia (FASH-a) is a specialised system of the body that has an appearance similar to a spider’s web or a sweater. As connective tissue (similar to a tendon or ligament), it is
- Thin, tough, elastic, densely woven and 3-dimensional in appearance.
Fascia covers and wraps every muscle, bone, nerve, artery and vein, as well as all of our internal organs including the heart, lungs, brain and spinal cord.
It supports and protects these structures in three layers in a continuous system, running from the bottom of the feet through the top of the head and inside to outside, as it connects from the bones to the surface of the skin.
The most interesting aspect of the fascial system is that it is not just a system of separate coverings. It is actually one continuous structure that exists from head to toe without interruption. In this way you can begin to see that each part of the entire body is connected to every other part by the fascia, like the wool in a jersey.
The fascia system provides a cushioning and supportive mechanism allowing us to move safely without restriction or pain. Fascia is also dynamic in nature, has the ability to stretch and move without restriction and it responds to internal and external forces applied on it, meeting the resistance in order to protect.
What happens when the fascia is tight?
When the fascia is in its normal healthy state, it is relaxed, wavy in configuration and supple, but when it is restricted, it is more rigid and less pliable creating pulls, tightness and pressure. Rather like muscle, in fact. So, when one experiences physical trauma, scarring, or inflammation, the fascia loses its pliability and becomes a source of tension to the rest of the body.
Trauma, such as a fall, car accident, whiplash, surgery or just habitual poor posture and repetitive stress injuries have cumulative effects on the body. The resultant symptoms are pain, headaches or restriction of motion, as well as corresponding diminished blood flow. These fascial restrictions affect our flexibility and stability and when internal structures become pulled out of alignment, they are a determining factor in our ability to withstand stress and perform daily activities.
Once we understand the nature of the fascial network, how it functions and how fascial dysfunction can affect the entire structure within our bodies, we can begin to understand how symptoms, pain, imbalance and dysfunction develop.
A special note about Fascial Manipulation
Fascial Manipulation is not a widely-used therapy in South Africa, but it has been accepted with great enthusiasm overseas for many years. Therapists have to be specially-trained in order to recognise the indications, as well as on how to evaluate what treatment needs to be applied for each patient.
Fiona Lamberti and Shelagh Green at Lamberti Physiotherapy have both participated in two specialist courses with international instructors and have experienced successes in using this methodology with long term sufferers. Use our handy appointment form to make an appointment with either of these physios at our Woodmead Practice.