Many problems can be linked to the Fascia since it is such a vital part of our metabolism, stabilising function, musculoskeletal system, has a force-transferring effect as well as helps us know our position.
The Fascia’s status affects our general health and the well-being of the body. A fault may give troublesome pain conditions that are difficult to get out of.
On this page we have gathered lots of information about different problems and health conditions and how they are connected to the Fascia.
- Impaired flow and mobility
- Inflammation and autoimmune inflammation
- Scar tissue
- Lack of sulphur and vitamin C
- Shock absorption
- The difference between horses and humans
- Too little mobility
- Straining – lumbago
Impaired flow and mobility
Fascia that has thickened hardened and has impaired gliding ability causes a lot of symptoms. The body feels heavy and sluggish. Nerves signal problems and pain occurs. Muscles can go into convulsions and inflammation may occur. A tight connective tissue chain can distort the skeleton so that wear in the joints occur and the balance is disturbed.
The body is perceived as heavy and stiff. The entire musculoskeletal system is affected with poorer coordination and endurance as a result. The causes can be many. Overloading, damage by external trauma, inflammation due to lifestyle, poor diet, nutritional deficiencies or other issues.
There are many causes for reduced function and structure in the Fascia, and it may take a little detective work to figure out what the major reason is.
It is clear that our bodies need the movement to maintain optimal metabolism and circulation to the tissues. If we stop moving the connective tissue will harden and stick together. It is an important reflex to stretch the body out after resting. However, we often skip that if the tissues hurt too much to move.
Studies have shown that after a stroke where the central nervous system is damaged, the tissue hardens slowly. It does not happen immediately, but as the body parts affected by the stroke are not moved deliberately muscles go into a spastic condition. Getting help passively moving the body can help a lot.
Impaired oozing of tissues also has effects, and injections of hyaluronic acid into the Fascia have been shown to increase mobility.
This shows how important it is to maintain the entire musculoskeletal system and ensure that movements performed fully on a regular basis. Psychological aspects also affect our movement patterns. A person who is nervous and tense has rigid movements and builds up the tension. Anyone who gesticulates and performs full movements is agiler.
Inflammation and autoimmune inflammation
Inflammation is a very important function for the process of healing infections. Heat and pain occur and the immune system works actively to process bacteria or to heal an injury. Pain is also a signal that the body part is over-stretched and needs rest. So inflammation is natural and important for healing.
Something that is not as positive is autoimmune conditions. Then, the immune system is overactive, and inflammations are triggered in multiple random places. This is often an inherited tendency to inflammation or related to lifestyle. Some diet provides an overactive immune system and then the body will look for something to attack. A common problem is a sugar which activates inflammation.
Milk protein and gluten protein (wheat, barley, oats, and rye) can also get out through the intestine and be found in the body in the wrong place and therefore get the immune system to begin inflammations throughout the body. There are theories that gluten is also a cause of autoimmune hypothyroidism, where thyroid tissue is reminiscent of the gluten protein. The body is “trained” to react to gluten and will willingly attack its thyroid gland as well.
You could say that Omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and Omega 6 triggers it.
Omega 6, we get from grain, so all the foods based on flour and semolina increases the degree of inflammation. Omega 3 on the other side absorbs. That particular fatty acid may be a little hard to ingest as it easily turns rancid.
One study showed that organic free-range eggs contain large amounts of Omega3, especially if the chickens are offered flaxseed. The factory produced eggs contained almost no Omega3.
An inflammation can become chronic in the parts that are damaged and not healed completely. If, for example, muscles go into spasm and the nervous system does not come out of this condition, the function in the area will deteriorate steadily and healing will become more and more difficult. There can be latent inflammation for a very long time. This will often heal up if treated and the area will regain normal function and circulation.
If the Inflammation is the result of an overactive immune system, however, caused either by the autoimmune disease (rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, hypothyroidism, etc.) problems will probably come back soon.
We can conclude that inflammations can be difficult to understand and cure. A body with a low degree of general inflammation will be more durable and not create inflammation in the joints and muscles in the same way as those who have an overactive immune system.
Some people get violent pain after a walk with pains and inflammation of the hip joints and knees. Others can overload the body very hard with just a little common soreness in the muscles.
It may be helpful to understand the genesis of inflammations to provide advice to clients who are not easy to treat. Sometimes they will not be healed at all when something constantly triggers inflammation and causes the body to react to stress.
We cannot exclude the entire load on our bodies, but we feel good from exercise, and we need to make an effort to build strength and keep us moving. But, with a high degree of general inflammation, the body will not withstand the load without starting to hurt.
To train with inflammation is never good or fun. It is better to avoid applying load until the inflammation is gone and the body can tolerate exercise. Pain is a good tell on the degree of inflammation. As well as heat and swelling.
Inflammation often heals when we treat it with increasing mobility and circulation. But with the overactive immune system the body will probably build new problems after some time. It may be useful to the point that out to customers so that they will not be disappointed by the treatment.
In the same manner, as the body builds scar tissue after damage to the skin, scar tissue build up in the Fascia inside the body when it is damaged. Therefore, we can get a chronic reduction in movement inside after an operation in which the Fascia is sewn together. It will not be the same hard and jagged scar tissue when the Fascia can heal itself together without stitches.
Scarring and thickening also occur naturally in the overworked parts. As described in the Fascia’s basic composition, it can build up quickly to withstand high stress.
Veterinary Dr. Vibeke Sødring Elbrønd described how she was able to find scarring and thickening in the parts of dissected horses which she already knew had injuries and lameness. The body is built on where it is overloaded, even with bone tissue where the bone is overloaded, so-called upper leg, or calcification. The same thing goes for human tissue.
People who overload a body part for a long period of time will be stiffer and will have thickened connective tissue in the most strained parts. This can be difficult to treat and remove in a short time. Especially if the body continues to be subjected to the load. But, if the spasms stop and mobility increase the Fascia will usually follow slowly and soften.
A thickened Fascia will naturally lose elasticity and mobility. The area will become more difficult to treat and the results can be slower. When thickened, connective tissue treatment may have to be repeated several times over a longer period so that the tissue gets a chance to recover.
Lack of Sulphur and Vitamin C
Fascia has different firmness depending on how well the collagen is deposited into the tissue. Collagen proteins are built including sulphur. It has been shown that many people with chronic pain and stiffness do very well with a supplement of organic sulphur, so-called MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane).
Vitamin C is also essential for collagen deposition. Therefore, those with extreme vitamin C deficiency are subject to scurvy (which used to affect seafarers as well as people in general in the old days, when before the arrival of the potato it was hard to get enough vitamin C in the winter). The body then simply falls apart as collagen cannot be formed into fibrils, resulting in brittle connective tissue and internal bleeding.
We may need large amounts of vitamin C for a full recovery and building of connective tissue. When taking supplements of MSM, vitamin C should be taken simultaneously for best possible absorption. The recommendations for RDA are based on how much you should take in at the least to avoid deficiency diseases, not how much we should eat to be healthy.
Here one can ask the question of how important the lack of vitamin C far up in the northern hemisphere has to do with the fact there are so many away with the genetic deviation EDS (Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, extreme hypermobility). Even a lack of sulphur might be frequent since sun and processes in living plants are required to bind sulphur in the body.
The body’s shock absorption consists of three parts.
The passive shock absorption consisting of ligament joints, major connective tissue structures like the neckband as well as other tendons and ligaments.
The active shock absorption is operated by muscle power.
The third shock absorption is the linking structure of the connective tissue that connects muscles throughout the body.
Thanks to the linked connective tissues, we can absorb a shock throughout the body. A blow to the foot from a stone can thus provide an impact at the end of that connective chain, right up to the base of the skull.
This becomes evident in whiplash injury, where trauma occurs primarily in the end of the whiplash movement where sensitive neck muscles and connective tissue structures are torn apart, responding with cramps that the body does not come out of, and a chronic inflammation begins.
The same thing goes when slipping on a patch of ice, where one of the shoulders can get the final strain after we sprawled forward a few steps, although the grip was lost under the foot.
This feature is important to lessen the impact and trauma and to distribute them through the body. It is clear that we can withstand more external influence if we are soft with full mobility in the connective tissue and muscles. A rigid body is torn apart easier.
One can distinguish between damage caused by wear and strain and injuries that come from external trauma or accidents.
An uncertain cause on the scale is the accidents that occur due to a body having reduced function over a longer period and that is damaged as a result of that.
It is common for one-sided or hard exercise to trigger inflammation, destroy muscle tissue and cause scarring of the connective tissue.
External trauma, strikes and other external influence is often easier to heal as long as the body has a great healing ability. Damage due to wear and impaired function / mobility requires a change in routine in addition to healing.
But, when looking broader, a treatment can have very good effect after the acute phase has passed and tissues have healed. Then, treatment can do its part to release the tension and tight connective tissue that the damage has caused.
On one occasion I (Märta) did a test where I treated a complicated case of a broken arm. There was a man of 25 years who twisted his upper arm, and the forecast was a little uncertain. The bone was completely off, and the fracture was so close to a major nerve that the surgeon did not want to operate, but wanted to let his arm heal inside plaster.
Right after the man had taken off the plaster and had been given the OK to start using his arm, his muscles were extremely tense. Biceps were in a convulsive state because of many weeks in plaster and the original injury. The shoulder was withered and all the lifting musculature stiff and painful.
After a single treatment, the cramps released and he could start practising his hand and swimming without problems and physiotherapy went very well. Otherwise, one must begin with physiotherapy to get the stiff muscles that will not respond and answer to conscious movement. Now the arm was ready to move, painless, and what remained was to train the strength back up again.
The man is a dentist and was afraid of losing his fine motor skills of the hand and arm, but was fully restored very quickly and have no problems today.
It is quite typical that the body after an acute injury is left in a state of spasm around the previously damaged parts. The cramps can be released by stretching and exercise, but it can be difficult for some to handle. Especially the neck might be difficult to restore full movement in by yourself. The cervical spine and skull base are sensitive areas that easily lock up. Then, manual treatments is often too powerful, and the nervous system resists.
In the case of damage due to wear the progress and treatment is more complicated. Partly because the cause of the pain and suffering might remain in everyday life and because the body might build up the problems during a long period and then take a longer time to recover.
It will often occur in a manner that makes the soft parts fatigued or inflamed. Either due to inflammatory diet, environment or other causes like over-straining. Where the body simply wears out and starts to hurt.
This wear can also cause lockups in the nervous system and thickened connective tissue. These conditions are linked.
We cannot divide the body into too distinctively different parts when we’re talking about damage and function. Nerves affect the muscles. The connective tissue contains lots of nerve endings. High levels of lactic acid destroy muscle tissue. Overworked muscles affect the connective tissue so that it becomes stiff. A vicious circle is started and we will need to look at all the parts together to restore full function and eliminate pain.
One cause of damage to the ligaments and the passive shock absorbers is that the active person is worn down, or not active enough. A body with stiff and uneven movement takes loads to its passive shock absorbers and is more easily strained to where it wears out at unexpected movements and poor surfaces.
Most people who come with lumbago, or who stretched themselves during a fall usually already had tension in the damaged area. A soft body usually manages to be stretched to the extreme position without being damaged. When a Fascia and muscle have been shortened and stuck together, it can only withstand minimal trauma before breaking down. Therefore, it is very good to prevent injuries by using good training, stretching, and if that’s not enough, some treatment.
Some argue that tension arises as a reaction to the injury, but the injury often occurs after the active shock absorption and the muscles are overloaded for a long period to then burst after a small additional uncontrolled load.
Pathologist Julian Baker described this at the Fascia Research Congress:
“We believe that a patellar tendon just snaps off when we play soccer, or jump high or run faster than we can. But in fact, we have built the injury for a long time, we have built up the tension in the muscles, which transfers to the tendons for so long, and weakened the tendons strength for so long that at the end is enough to get out of bed to snap it off. These are the results of long-term fatigue of the tissues. Of course healing then takes time as well!”
This is evident when the pain in patellar tendons attachment points, or heel spurs, usually associated with tired and short calf muscles. If we get the calf to release, the fascia to soften and muscle cramps to end, then we can get the inflammation and abnormal load down in the tendon’s attachment reduced and the pain disappears.
This is probably the answer to why support and taping help to heal. The tape supports the musculature so that it can rest where the connective tissue does not hold together enough about the load.
Differences between horses and humans
Working with Fascia wave treatment on both humans and horses has led to deeper insight into the Fascia as well as the treatment itself.
The horses taught us among other things that we do not need not treat where it hurts, but a softer treatment which allows deep waves go from a neutral to a tense area has even better effect in many cases – even when treating humans.
We got to learn that horses connective tissue structures is at least 95% similar to our own – and, overall, it is not surprising that there are many similarities since we both are mammals. It is clear in any case that we have much to learn about human treatment from diagnosis and treatment of animals.
Horses respond very well to treatment, better than people. But, even in horses, there are variations. We can assume that their major muscle and connective tissue versus bone mass is one of the causes of the rapid results. The undulations can go through such large layers and moreover, the horse is a flight animal that has a functioning motor apparatus to thank for much of its survival.
We are built differently, composed of more bone versus soft tissue and an upright bipedal body type. The horse can sleep standing, which we are unlikely to handle. We need to rest lying down to recover.
Too little movement
One similarity between the horses and us is that many of us feel good from intense exercise regularly. It does not need not be prolonged stress, but to give your all for a short while and empty our energy depots in the muscles. If we only move gently, it is easy to build up to high glycogen levels in the muscles which then breaks down quickly during exercise and causes cramping and weakness.
Many people feel great from heavy dead-lifts or intense, but brief intervals. To just walk straight forward does not activate the body in a way that affects the metabolism and muscle status in the body.
It is best if we can move painlessly. However, sometimes you need a little struggle and to endure some pain in order to get into a virtuous spiral of movement. Treatment makes it easier to move without pain and to get started building strength and fitness.
There we can see a similarity between us and the horses, although they need healthy exercise to feel good. Sometimes injuries put a stop to the exercise, and we of course then need to solve the problems first. We should be able to move without pain, just as we do not want to burden the body with hard exercise as long as we are in pain.
To move in a way that synchronizes the body is good. Both running and yoga, activates the core and increases the cohesive stability. Therefore, many people with back pain feel good from running.
One problem is that all training can still give strained muscles while the body cools down. Especially if we have nutritional deficiencies such as magnesium deficiency. Then, it feels good immediately after exercise, but the body then hardens up again.
Then balance and posture is lost and we can get a sore back and hips among other things, although we are moving a lot. Free joints and mobility are vital to keep the pain away!
The Fascia contains a variety of receptors, along longer paths, between the vertebrae, along the muscles and so on. These receptors read and indicate the position in which we are and how tissues are stretched. When overstretching we feel a burning sensation. Both muscles and connective tissue can be overstretched, which especially damages the muscle fibers that are overstretched. The reaction to such an injury is usually subsequent cramping of the area around the damage.
Impaired position detection is often the reason that we easily overextend and hurt ourselves in the areas previously hardened. In places where the body has become stiff and numb the nervous system cannot signal the situation as quickly as it should so that we can control our movements.
This can of course be avoided by ergonomically balanced movements where we just move as fast and advanced as we feel that our body can handle that particular day. It is often under stress or carelessness that we fail to do this and harm ourselves.
Therefore, classical connective tissue massage does not work particularly well. It burns and causes awful pain. Vibrations that restore the Fascia’s fluid balance and mobility are far more comfortable.
Straining – Lumbago
Lumbago follows the same pattern as hyper-extension. We usually have built up tension and stiffness that eventually impair the reaction of the nerves and muscles of the rigid area. We become cold, extra stiff and after we have just woken up in the morning, it might be enough just to reach out for the light switch or a tea-cup without giving the resisting muscles time to react, which causes some fibers to be torn apart.
It is usually not the active contraction, the lift that breaks the back, but rather when we are careless putting down whatever we are lifting. Or by quickly reaching out for something, which we have done a thousand times before. Just that at this time the body cannot keep up.
The body then reacts to the not so serious stretch injury by cramping. So the worst and long-term pain will usually come from the cramps that follow. Then, we can work with haste and treat your back so that it stays soft and free from lockups until the tension is resolved.
As said the Fascia includes huge amounts of nerve endings. But, also a sophisticated GPS system that helps us to assess the body situation. We know our exact position and hold our balance through the Fascia. It may be the reason the accuracy of movement and responsiveness increases after successful treatment.
We often suffer from short hip flexors. Where the pelvis is rotated forward and the lumbar spine becomes overloaded. An integrated approach to posture and balance is important when we are administering treatment.
Overstretching injuries can often occur if one has been cooled down in that body part, have an infection (which may make the immune system deprioritize muscles) or from fatigue. That is, when the body is already tired, but we are taking on too much and tissues cannot hold the load.
Regardless of which of these alternatives is the real cause, one is usually able to avoid overstretching if one is aware of movements, work ergonomics and senses the body situation. This can be difficult when under stress or under pressure, and for a horse that works with high energy and is not keen to feel the body until afterwards.
Do you want to know more about Fascia?
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We have gathered a lot of information regarding Fascia on our website, trying to explain Fascia and new research in the easiest way possible.