Aches and pains in the body are usually attributed to muscles and joints in the body. However, far less are known about the fascia and how it could cause pain or discomfort in the body.
What is Fascia?
According to the John Hopkins Medicine website, fascia is a thin casing of connective tissue that surrounds and holds every organ, blood vessel, bone, nerve fibre and muscle in place. The tissue does more than provide internal structure; fascia has nerves that make it almost as sensitive as skin. When stressed, it tightens up.
Although fascia looks like one sheet of tissue, it’s actually made up of multiple layers with liquid in between called hyaluronan. It’s designed to stretch as you move. But there are certain things that cause the fascia to thicken and become sticky. When it dries up and tightens around muscles, it can limit mobility and cause painful knots to develop.
Fascia takes many forms, from stretchy to stiff. It appears throughout the body, and because it is so widespread, keeping your fascia healthy is essential.
And often times, fascia pain is mistaken for muscle pain.
It can be hard to determine whether your pain is due to muscles, joints or fascia. While not always the case, a general general rule of thumb is that while muscle injuries and joint problems feel worse the more you move, fascia issues tend to feel better with more movement and flow. Fascia ailments also tend to be alleviated by heat therapy, which aids in bringing back the tissue’s elasticity.
What are the Benefits of keeping Fascia healthy?
Healthy fascia can lead to:
- improved body symmetry and alignment
- increased blood flow, which means faster exercise recovery
- reduced appearance of stretch marks and cellulite
- scar tissue breakdown
- reduced risk of injury
- less day-to-day pain
- improved sports performance
While treating your fascia can take time, pain relief can be instant.
Here are 5 tips to improve or alleviate fascia pain:
- Stretch for 10 minutes
Stretching that elongates your muscles can help you release tension in your muscles, which is one element of fascia.
For best results, he recommends holding stretches for 30 seconds to 1 minute, but don’t force yourself into a deepness or position that causes pain.
2. Use a Foam Roller
Foam rolling is a great way to help pinpoint where exactly your fascia is tight and holding tension. Just get onto the roller and notice where your muscles hurt or feel tight.
If you hit a trigger point or tight spot while foam rolling, sit and work on that spot for 30 to 60 seconds as it slowly dissipates.
3. Engage in regular aerobic exercise
Any form of regular cardiovascular activity that gets the blood pumping can help to release fascia tension. It does not have to be hardcore in order to be effective. It can be as simple as regular brisk walks.
4. Keep hydrated
Drinking enough water keeps your body including the fascia healthy. As a general rule, try to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water.
5. Utilising cold therapy
Applying a cold compress or ice packs to a painful area can help reduce inflammation, resulting in less swelling and pain. A point to note is to avoid applying frozen items straight onto the skin. It is also important to remember to stop or take a break after about 15 minutes or so to prevent nerve, tissue, and skin damage.