While on the road to Self discovery, layers of reality miraculously appear with every step you take. Some layers material, some spiritual.
For me, one of these layers, known as fascia, uncovered a greater understanding of the overall network of my body, and possibly my soul.
This matrix-like web of tissue should become a household name for anyone in chronic pain.
So, what is fascia?
Wikipedia illustrates that, “fascia is a structure of connective tissue that surrounds muscles, groups of muscles, blood vessels, and nerves, binding some structures together, while permitting others to slide smoothly over each other.” Think of fascia as Saran Wrap that is holding your body together.
Upon further research you can begin to see how fascia functions. First, you need to understand that fascia functions as a single unit. Tension along the fascial planes of your belly could hypothetically pull on your shoulder, creating shoulder pain.
This idea is known as “tensegrity” (tension + integrity), coined by the great thinker Buckminster Fuller. Tensegrity, or more recently known as Biotensegrity, coined by Dr. Stephen Levin, is a structural concept, where the integrity of the inner structural beams, say, your bones, is dictated by the structural tension of say, your fascia.
A revelation! Fascia seemed like a key aspect in understanding my connective tissue disorder Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), because for me, I can feel the pain in my fascia. However, I never knew it was there.
About a year ago, my yogic path led me to discover this matrix-like web of tissue. Scanning through the book, The Key Muscles of Yoga, everything started to click into place when I drifted to the following page:
“Fascia- The fascial planes are lattice-like matrix of sheets of connective tissue that cover the organs and muscles. Sensory nerves are found throughout the various fascial planes and are stimulated by stretching the fascia in Yoga postures. This nerve stimulation can evoke emotional and energetic releases during the practice of Yoga.”
Up until this time, I thought yoga, as well as EDS, was all about my joints and muscles. I was never able to explain to my doctors the strange pain I had all throughout my body.
Not only had I finally found a method of exercise that seemed to help my pain, I was finally able to understand why. Through gentle stretching, we are able to stretch these points of tension, or adhesions, along the fascial planes, allowing the body to glide and move with more ease. Nerve impulses, delivery of nutrition and oxygen, and the removal of waste production simultaneously spring back into action. Vitality, strength, posture, and proprioception all become restored.
Ancient practices such a Qi-Gong and Tai Chi also bring energetic attention to the fascial layers, but personally, I believe yoga delivers with a greater punch.
Try any of these poses while focusing on your breath:
Side Stretches (root the opposite hip down)
If exercise isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other seats on the Fascia Releasing Train:
Try any of the following techniques to bring release to your entire system, eventually bringing peace to your material and spiritual levels.
These techniques should be practiced regularly, as releasing fascia tension is an on-going practice.
-Use a foam roller or tennis ball to gently massage myofascial pain. When using a foam roller, start out slow and easy.
-Seek a trained professional who specializes in myofacial release. A gentle massage will do the trick. Traditionally, Rolfing was practiced; however, this style may be too harsh for someone with EDS. Something like the Bowen Technique or the John F. Barnes’ Myofascial Release may be gentler.
-Use a Lymph Brush as a dry brush, or a brush in the shower. I use one every day, and was told to always brush toward your heart.
-Adopt a diet that is low in inflammation-causing foods. Avoid casein and gluten (dairy and wheat), refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, and commercially raised meat. (Limit your Omega-6 intake.)
-Be aware of your Omega 3 intake. Get enough fish oils. Think: “Omega 3- the way to be.”
-Sometimes taking a walk is enough to get your fascia smoothly moving.
-Take an Epsom Salt bath.
-Use a Trigger Point device, such as the Theracane, with the corresponding book, The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook.
-Try an ancient practice such as Qi-Gong, Tai-Chi, acupuncture or even Cupping Therapy.
Upon my discovery of fascia, I dove headfirst into the topic. Circling around my mind was the idea that fascia was the missing key in Meridian Magic. For years, we could not explain “where” the meridians were.
As I released the tension along my fascial planes with a daily practice of yoga, I became more and more spiritually charged, something that is very difficult to put into words.
My hopes are high in this Field. As Western ideals began to dominate the East in the 20th Century, I have all the faith that the Eastern wisdom will not only penetrate our medical world, but coalesce, and create a new paradigm for healing in the 21st Zentury ahead.