We all are aware of the new pains that pop up unexpectedly, without cause. We wonder if we tweaked a landing or overtrained this week. The underlying cause could be from injuries you have sustained previously, whether in childhood, or just last season and fascia could be to blame.
Whats fascia? Fascia is the connective tissue covering of every muscle fiber, muscle group, blood vessels and nerves designed to bundle them together. The fascia is dense, yet flexible, and acts to transmit tension and allow muscles to glide over one another. The fascia keeps the body interconnected.
When injured, fascia changes in its condition and function. The body’s reaction to injury to the fascia causes scar tissue build up and the muscles can no longer glide along one another smoothly. The body compensates, leading to altered biomechanics, asymmetric posture, and pains that are possibly in a totally different area then the initial injury! Fascial restrictions can pull the body out of its normal alignment, compressing joint surfaces and bulging disks, resulting in pain, loss of motion, and weakness.
So how can you treat fascial dysfunction and restrictions? Going to a health care practitioner that specializes in sports injuries is the easiest. This could be a chiropractor, soft tissue specialist (massage or acupuncture), sport specific trainer, or other fitness expert. They will begin by doing a series of functional assessments that will allow for an evaluation of the body’s biomechanics and distinguish weak areas from those that are overcompensated. These assessments are typically small exercises, like an overhead deep squat or a bridge, that allows the practitioner to see discrepancies in the small muscles as well as the large muscle groups. Palpation (or feeling) in the tissues themselves will also help the practitioner to find areas of fascial dysfunction.
Once the areas are determined, several techniques, designed to reduce the scar tissue and adhesions in the fascia, can be used to help promote the normal glide of healthy, well-functioning fascia. Deep tissue massage, myofascial release, active release, and Graston techniques are some of the most well known and effective. All are aimed at increasing functional range of motion, reeducate muscles, break up the restrictions in the fascia, and decrease pain patterns.
Don’t be haunted by an injury from long ago and free your fascia!