Updated: Apr 13
What is Fascia?
Most people have heard of plantar fasciitis or IT Band syndrome. These are conditions effecting the fascia of the foot and side of the leg – both can be extremely painful and debilitating for a person’s mobility. Just like you can have IT band tightness affecting your knee pain, tightness in the fascia in your belly or hips can affect your pelvic pain.
In our bodies, we have multiple layers of fascia. We have deep fascia that helps support our internal organs (this is what Dr. Carmel is treating in the picture below). We also have fascia that lies under our skin and encases our muscles like the casing on a sausage. This fascia is highly connective and everywhere – think of it like wearing a cable knit head-to-toe unitard. What happens when you snag one end of a cable knit unitard? The whole chain is pulled and can mess the way the unitard looks and moves. Now imagine this in a body – fascia restricted at one end of the chain can impact the way another area further down the chain looks and moves.
[Below is Dr. Carmel treating a patient's falciform ligament to help her patient's kyphosis or extra slouched upper back and diastasis recti. The falciform ligament connects the liver and diaphragm and tightness can cause a pulling down of the mid-back]
So Why Do We Love to Treat It?
Because it’s everywhere! It plays a HUGE role in how people move and how muscles function. It is also highly innervated, so by improving the mobility of the fascia and increasing blood flow and hyaluronic acid, we make nerves happy and can positively impact the nervous system. So cool, right?
Let’s take this one step further. By working the fascial layer, we can help decrease nerve pain, improve muscle function, improve postural alignment, increase range of motion of joints, and even help problems like urinary urgency/frequency.
How Do We Treat It?
Fascia tends to get sticky where we have folds or scars. Folds are in the gluteal creases, groin line, where we fold in our bellies when we sit, and even where our waistline hits. Surgical scars can also be a big source of stuck fascia and stuck fascia can cause dysfunction. We evaluate the tissue and treat the areas where we find restrictions. Deeper fascial restrictions can occur due to injuries, accidents and falls in addition to scars. We also look beyond the areas of pain, assessing further down or up the fascial chain because remember, restrictions in one area of the body could impact another area of the body.
[Below Dr. Ali demonstrates helping the mobility of her patient's uterus. A ligament connects the uterus to the sacrum and if it is tight, can affect sacroiliac joint pain, back pain or menstrual cramps]
There are a few ways we like to address fascial restrictions.
We manually manipulate the tissue – this is called skin rolling and if you think you have had skin rolling, you likely haven’t had our skin rolling!
Cupping – truly magical and something we do in clinic as well as teach patients how to perform as part of their home program.
Direct or Indirect Fascial Mobilization – we can also indirectly or directly mobilize the fascial tissue through special manual techniques to improve mobility of the tissue.
Want to Learn More About Fascia? Come check us out at RVA Holistic PT. Fascial manipulation is just one of our many tools in our toolbox.