MORE EDUCATION (FASCIA AND SOMATIC EDUCATION)

Symptoms of fascial restriction may include muscle and joint pain, headaches, decreased flexibility/range of motion, diminished function of organs, weakness, tension/trigger points, and asymmetries in the body such as scoliosis

 

What is fascia? Fascia is essentially all of the connective tissue in 9421995_origthe body. It is a tough, gristly covering, much like a sausage casing, that surrounds every muscle. It forms a vast network throughout the body and is continuous from head to toe. It also includes the tendons that join the muscle to the bone, as well as the joint capsules and the ligaments. Scar tissue and adhesion are  basically the same as fascia, only very disorganized and more restrictive. In some places the fascia is thinner than nylon pantyhose, but in other places, such as the IT band on the outside of the leg, it can be much thicker, it is also extremely strong.
Why is fascia important? The fascia thickens and hardens where there is chronic tension. Because it forms a continuous network throughout the body, and because it is Fascia kneeso strong, Structural Integrators consider fascia as the “organ of form.” Thus, the fascia dictates our shape and freedom of movement. In addition, all nerves and blood vessels run through the fascia. Therefore, if the connective tissue is tight, the associated tissues will have poor nutrient exchange. This exacerbates any painful situation because toxic metabolic waste products build up and this further aggravates pain receptors. This creates a vicious cycle by creating more muscle tension, leading to further thickening and hardening of the fascia, which in turn, further limits mobility. Fascia is composed mainly of collagen fibers, together with water and other proteins which provide a glue-like quality. Due to the regular alignment of the fibers, fascia often has a crystal-like appearance. The connective tissue fibers extend deep in between individual muscle cells and between practically all cells of the body. Fascia tends to stiffen as we age, becoming tight and dried out.We don’t have to get stiffer and stay that way just because we get older. Structural Integration is a scientifically validated body therapy. Unlike massage, Structural Integration focuses not on the muscles but on their protective layer, called fascia (also known as connective tissue).Muscles are contracting tissues that give the body and organs physical movement. The fascia surrounds the muscles, bones and organs in the body. The fascia gives muscles their shape and the body its structure.Structural Integration aligns and balances the body by lengthening and repositioning the fascia. As fascia is lengthened it allows the muscles to move more efficiently.The practitioner will apply pressure to the body, working the entire fascial system in a systematic way. When restricted fascia is thoracolumbar-fascia-xlreleased and lengthened the body can return to its structurally optimal position.

Continuing pull of gravity, the stress of daily activities and physical injuries can pull the body out of alignment. The fascia gradually shortens, tightens and adjusts to accommodate the misalignment. When the body is out of alignment it creates inefficiency and imbalance resulting in stiffness, discomfort and loss of energy.When a body is aligned and balanced it moves with greater ease. It requires less energy to function. Good posture is effortless and breathing is easier. The body becomes more flexible, more coordinated and athletic performance improves.

Myo- refers to muscle, and fascia- to the three-dimensional network of densely woven, incredibly tough connective tissue that surrounds and inundates every organ, muscle, nerve, bone and vessel in the entire body. Imagine the fascia in your body like a spider’s web or sweater. Instead of a system of separate coverings, it is a single structure that exists from head to toe. In this way, you can begin to see that each part of the entire body is inextricably connected to every other part by the fascia, like yarn in a sweater.

In a normal healthy state, the fascial system maintains the body in equilibrium through a delicate balance of tension and elasticity. With the proper amount of tension, it helps support the efficient alignment of your bones while being elastic enough to permit full, unrestricted movement. However, in response to physical trauma or inflammation, it begins losing its pliability. Slips and falls, whiplash, surgery or just habitually poor posture create fascial restrictions that accumulate over time. Once these restrictions start exerting abnormal pressure on bones, joints, nerves, blood vessels and even organs, they unbalance the system, creating pain both locally and in seemingly unrelated areas of your body. While your pain is all too real, the true cause is too often overlooked by conventional medical practitioners since fascial restrictions do not show up on ordinary diagnostic tests such as MRI’s, CT scams and X-rays.

Fortunately, under sustained, low intensity pressure fascia fascia-performance-injury_a87fdb04c29267b72c4fcacc3bf9a248slowly lengthens and eventually remains that way. To get a release that won’t spring back, Myofascial therapists stay with a stretch and follow a restriction three-dimensionally for 90 seconds to 2 minutes. A low intensity, sustained stretch is necessary because connective tissue reacts differently to stretching than muscle tissue. While muscle responds to a relatively firm stretch, the collagen in fascia is extremely tough and resistant to quick, hard stretching. Myofascial therapists stretch a fascial restriction to its barrier, wait for a release to continue, go to the next barrier, and so on. Eventually you will regain the fascial flexibility that will once again allow the muscles and joints to move as they were designed.

In addition to fascial restrictions that may limit function, one can also develop a pattern of muscular holding or guarding that may originally be beneficial in reducing pain producing movement of the injured area. However, when these patterns of guarding persist for extended periods of time they can become a source of pain and limitation in and of themselves.

Effects of Treatment.  While myofascial release is gentle, it has profound effects upon your body tissues. Do not let the gentleness deceive you. While each patient’s response will be highly individual, certain common responses are seen repeatedly.

myofascial-massage-200x300Occasionally you may leave after a first treatment feeling like nothing happened. Later (even a day later), the effects of the treatment begin to manifest themselves. Often there is soreness after treatment for several hours or perhaps a day. The discomfort is a result of the released tissues secreting lactic acid and other trapped metabolic wastes into the intercellular spaces where it can then be excreted via the body’s normal pathways. The best way to aid this process is by drinking extra water which helps flush toxins out of the body.

Frequently remarkable improvement is noted immediately during or after a treatment while at other times improvement comes after the soreness described above. Other typical responses reported by patients include: seemingly new pain in new areas, lightheadedness or nausea, and emotional responses such as joy or sadness. In any case, it is all part of the healing process.

Generally, acute cases are typically resolved with a few treatments. The more chronic the problem, the longer it usually takes to bring lasting results. Some chronic conditions that have developed over a period of years can require two or three treatments a week to obtain optimal results. Once the chronic condition has significantly improved, less frequent treatments can help to maintain the patient’s progress. Many patients find that once the pain has subsided, one treatment every few weeks can keep them in good condition.

SENSORY + MOTOR = the system in the body (your brain and nervous system) that teaches your muscles how to do things. The sensory motor system teaches you, for example, how to swing a tennis racket, run, ride a bicycle, dance, and catch yourself when you’re about to fall. Your brain receives information (sensory) from your environment, and sends out information to the muscles to move (motor).

AMNESIA = when the brain, which controls the muscles, FORGETS how to relax your tight muscles. When the brain forgets how to move the muscles, it also forgets which muscles are even involved in the pain! The muscles stay contracted and we feel muscular pain.sensory motor amnesia

Sensory Motor Amnesia is when the brain forgets how to relax tight, contracted muscles that are, in effect, on “cruise control”.

Teach the brain to notice (sensory) how you move (or don’t move!), and when you’re stuck with tight, frozen muscles, and then how to relax them (motor) through movement, and your pain will be relieved. This will reverse your amnesia.

Soma – The word soma describes the everlasting constantly flowing array of sensory feedback and actions that are occurring within the experience of each of us. A somatic experience is when we viscerally feel connected usually brought on by movement. Even in meditation and states of rest our body and internal experience is always moving. It is an internal representation of our energy force.

Movement – Movement is the language that the nervous system understands very well. Gently guiding a client through a series of small movements allows the body to highlight muscular and systems integration on the voluntary level. It is a communication portal that showcases integration from the muscles, fascia and bone to the client – when the client is open to listening.

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Lineage of Somatic Education:

Somatic education emerged during the twentieth century, but has been practiced in Eastern traditions for centuries. Western science classifies somatic healing and somatic education; a term used interchangeably, as an internalized learning process that is initiated by a teacher who guides the client or student through a sensory-motor process of physiological change.

When we speak of self-teaching, self-learning, self-healing, and self-regulation, we know that this is a somatic process, and as coaches and teachers we must guide our clients to the understanding that these are genetically given capacities intrinsic to all human beings. As practitioners our roles are to merely offer the means to help “turn on” the ability to self manage somatic healing on and off the mat. In essence the clients actually teach themselves, we merely aid in offering the verbal and sequential tools.

Somatic healing is much like corrective movement in this way. When there is a break down in movement or movement patterning; much like in an athletic injury, there can be trauma and compensation patterns that take over proper and once efficient patterns. When this happens the client feels as if they do not have control over their body’s responses, contraction and control over that particular area of their body, muscle group and to an extent this is true because the body’s protective response is to contract and quite frankly…protect. In somatic medical terms we call this somatic trauma and/or SMA (sensory motor amnesia; which is the worst-case scenario.

This somatic trauma can pull the body into what we call somatic reflex. It is the reflex of pain avoidance. Cringing, for example, is the overt manifestation of this reflex. For instance, in boxing when blows occur to one side of the rib cage, the muscles traumatized will go into chronic contraction. Prolonged pain can attribute to chronic contraction, which we see in runner knee and a myriad of load responsive micro trauma. This alters the body’s ability to recover and to properly manage movement.

The internal compensation process is to selectively disengage that sensory input and motor control of muscle function and then establish a compensation pattern.

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