Updated: Sep 21, 2019
Is Fascia a new buzzword? Far from it. Fascia is actually a web of sorts that weaves its way throughout the human body, often going unnoticed unless something has gone wrong.
"The soul of man, with all the streams of pure living water, seems to dwell in the fascia of his body.” - Dr. Still
So let's dive into this, shall we? What is Fascia, why do you care, and what the f*ck does it have to do with Fibromyalgia?
What Is Fascia?
Fascia is defined as a band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs. It forms a continuous three-dimensional matrix of structural support throughout the whole body. Fascia actually interpenetrates and encases all organs, muscles, bones and nerve fibers. So basically, you had no idea this thing existed, but it's holding you together so that you yourself can exist.
The pithy parts of an orange is a fantastic example of what fascia looks like. And if you'd like a more unappetizing example...you know that white stuff on raw chicken breasts?? Yeah, it's like that too.
So, I know you're thinking to yourself - you watch House, ER, all the gore & medical shows, so why exactly haven't you heard of this before? Interestingly enough, the fascia is removed from most anatomic displays in order to allow viewers to have an "unobscured visual" of organs, nerves, and muscles. But trust me (and every medical professional out there) Fascia exists and it's very important to how the body works.
Why Do You Care?
You literally JUST found out about this sh*t - why should you care? Well, for starters, it cares for you so it'd be nice if you returned the favor every now and again. Fascia is actually pretty important for our body awareness and overall sense of movement. Fascial restrictions are often the cause of skeletal misalignments which can cause overall stiffness, decreased flexibility, chronic pain, TMJ, joint pain, fibromyalgia and even depression.
When we don't care for our fascia (which is easy to do since you only just now f*cking found out it was a thing) it will slowly but surely atrophy - you'll become stiff your fascia will form adhesions and scars. These adhesions lead to inflexibility and an inability to move quickly, easily and gracefully. The nerve signals that must travel from our brain to our muscles cannot flow as freely with this built up scar tissue
What The F*ck Does It Have To Do With Fibromyalgia?
By now you know it has a lot more to do with your daily life than you thought, but what does it have to do with Fibromyalgia? Fascia is an entire network of connective tissue which contains tons of nerves. Fun F*ckin' Fact: Fascia is about as sensitive to pain as our skin.
Fascia can also contract, or tighten, in response to “danger” signals from the brain. With Fibromyalgia, the body is stuck in a constant state of fight or flight and the Fascia responds by constricting the hell out of you. If you have Fibromyalgia the term "Tin Man Syndrome" or the feeling of your muscles being as hard as actual rocks, you, my friend, have some very tight Fascia.
It's been a big day for you. Not only did you learn about Fascia, but you're also a firm believer now that Fascia is making you its b*tch if you have Fibromyalgia. The key with Fascia is to take care of it as gently and long-term as possible. It's only making you it's b*tch because it wants healing attention. I was lucky enough to be told by some relatives about Myofascial Release so I could give my Fascia the attention it needed.
Myofascial Release is a safe and very effective massage technique that involves applying gentle sustained pressure into the tightened Fascial connective tissues to eliminate pain and restore motion. Myofascial Release is different from most types of massage treatment due to the lightness in pressure and that it's given without oils, creams or tools. With this freedom, your therapist can more accurately detect your fascial restrictions and apply the appropriate amount of sustained pressure to facilitate and retrain the fascia to release.
Myofascial Release has helped me so much personally - I tell whoever I can about it. I was stuck in perpetual "Tin Man Syndrome" and my muscles were so constricted I was sure my bones were actually aching from the pressure. I was starting to waste away from the inability to do any sort of activity (not that I had the energy too...) when my Dad told me about a family member on that side who'd told him about how Myofascial Release worked for their Fibromyalgia pain. I looked into it and found one practitioner locally. She told me tales about how she's treated people with Fibro before and how they live very normal, balanced lives now. I didn't believe it was possible at first, but then my muscles started letting go. And over time, I learned how to help them let go and avoid getting stress-tight in the first place.