If you are unfamiliar with Fascia, I encourage you to read my last post 'Do you have a recurrent sporting injury?' where I explain exactly what Fascia is and how important it is for the healthy function of your body. For this blog article, I would like to concentrate on a simple, do-it-yourself technique that I use to release it, whilst also explaining the benefits of this approach.
Fascia release is sometimes known as Myofascial Release and is a technique used by Massage Therapists, Chiropractors and Physiotherapists. In my opinion, I don’t think it is an area of treatment which is given as much attention as it should, however all practitioners will have a different view. From my clinical experience I have seen treatment including Myofascial Release bring immediate and considerable benefit for pain and mobility. Myofascial Release is quite simple to perform and for many areas of the body you can do it yourself. The technique I’m teaching you can be used on all parts of the body, but I would like to start at your lower back as this is an area of the body common for Fascia to become tight and restrictive.
Sitting up, reach your hands around your waist so you can feel your lower back.
Beginning close to the base of your spine, and using the soft pads of your thumbs and fingers, gently pinch, lift and hold a roll of your skin. The idea is to draw your skin away from the Fascia which lies directly under your skin.
Follow this technique of ‘pinch, lift and roll’ up either side of your spine. I find I can manage this self-technique to mid back, from there you will need to employ the help of others.
This simple technique of ‘pinch, lift and roll’ can be used on all parts for your body, including your head and neck. Facia is everywhere and covers everything in your body, and as I explained in my previous post it is very capable of holding on to tension. One common area many people experience tight Fascia is the head and neck. One of my daily rituals in the shower is to ‘pinch, lift and roll’ my scalp and upper neck and I encourage you to make it your practice too. The ‘lift’ part of the technique can be difficult on the scalp as the skin is very tight but any small release of skin from the underlying Fascia will help reduce built up tension and promote blood flow and relaxation.
I have also found in my clinic an area of the body prone to tight Fascia, and one often neglected, is the rib cage. I like to start at either side and gently ‘pinch, lift and roll’ my way in towards where the ribs connect to your breast bone. Patients of mine prone to Asthma and other Respiratory conditions often express to me the profound relief this simple technique brings.
What to feel for?
As you roll the skin and as a result knead the superficial fascia, you will experience varying levels of pain in some locations. In most cases with the pain you will feel a restriction too, meaning you can’t lift the skin easily. Whether or not you feel a restriction, the pain felt is a symptom of dysfunction in this area. To help release the area, and with your skin between your thumb and finger pads, gently kneed and stretch your skin. This will help to release the underlying Fascia and restore healthy flow between skin, Fascia, muscles and ligaments.
Myofascial Release is safe, gentle and effective for all ages and levels of physical fitness. One of the advantages of Myofascial Release is its convenience as a therapy. Whilst not ideal it can be done through clothing, so it is suitable and appropriate for an office environment. So next time you want to do a good deed for one of your workmates, instead of grabbing them a coffee or chocolate bar, give them something of genuine benefit and offer to release their Fascia for them.