No one wants to be in pain.
Being in pain makes us irritable, depressed, unproductive, and our quality of life suffers. Being in pain also makes everyday tasks seem impossible, such as sitting and standing.
Many people’s pain comes in the form of knots in their muscles. These knots can range from being simply annoying to causing more severe problems, like with your general mobility. These knots are caused by a complicated system of interconnected collagen called fascia.
If your fascia is affected and giving you problems, a professional massage therapist who practices myofascial release might just be what you need.
What in the World is Fascia?
Imagine that your muscles, nerves, tendons, and all the ligaments are encased in saran wrap.
This saran wrap helps hold everything in place and maintain shape. The saran wrap is also between all of these muscles and your skin, acting as a direct buffer. This is your fascia, and it’s made of collagen.
Scientifically speaking, the fascia is “… is a thin casing of connective tissue that surrounds and holds every organ, blood vessel, bone, nerve fiber, and muscle in place.
This tissue does more than provide internal structure; fascia has nerves that make it almost as sensitive as skin. When stressed, it tightens up.”
Why is Your Fascia Important?
Feeling Good Isn’t Always About Catering to the Muscles and Tendons.
Fascia is the glue that holds everything together. It’s present everywhere in the body, and it’s vital to keep it happy and healthy.
John Hopkins Medicine states that,
“… [fascia] is actually made up of multiple layers with liquid in between called hyaluronan. It’s designed to stretch as you move. But there are certain things that cause fascia to thicken and become sticky. When it dries up and tightens around muscles, it can limit mobility and cause painful knots to develop.”
Unfortunately, fascia tends to get ignored, primarily when a doctor focuses on other body parts like muscles and tendons. This can make getting a correct diagnosis difficult.
If you make your fascia mad, there can be serious consequences for your body—namely, myofascial pain.
What is Myofascial Pain?
Myofascial pain is that deep ache that won’t go away in your muscle. It’s persistent, annoying, and can be debilitating.
It can also present as a “knot” anywhere in your body. That knot is tender if you press on it or is tender if you try to move your muscle. Many people experience knots in their extremities, like the legs, shoulders, hips, and back.
Myofascial pain can actually develop into a syndrome, which could be an underlying cause of many of your mobility issues.
What Causes Myofascial Pain?
Repetitive motion is a major culprit that causes myofascial pain. Many workers who operate machinery as their primary work activities deal with myofascial pain. Athletes are another group that might experience myofascial pain.
So, What is Myofascial Release?
Myofascial release happens when a professional reduces the myofascial pain that you feel with specialized techniques. They are painstakingly taking the time to straighten out the bunched-up saran wrap that your body has become.
A trained professional will identify and release those stiff, tight, and hurtful areas by massaging the fascia. However, don’t be alarmed if they go over the same spot multiple times: the tightness you feel, that knows, can be stubborn even for the most expert therapists.
It’s not as easy as it sounds! Since fascia is connected, what hurts might not be the cause of the pain but actually just the symptom.
How to (Potentially) Avoid Myofascial Pain
Keeping your fascia healthy and avoiding myofascial pain disorder is all about upkeep. These simple techniques not only help keep your fascia in tip-top shape, but you will also see a general improvement in how you feel overall. To maintain good fascia health, you should:
- Be Active
- Use a Foam Roller
- Sauna it up
- Look to cold or heat therapy
- Stay hydrated
- Pay attention to your diet
Let’s examine each technique individually.
This is sound advice for about every health disease and illness we know about, but it’s doubly important for your fascia. Aerobic exercise can significantly help promote good blood flow, and taking proper care of your body afterward keeps you flexible and limber.
Stretching is so important! It helps relieve tension, strengthen muscles, and helps unravel the mess that your saran wrap (fascia) gets into. Your individual stretching routine will vary, especially if you are an athlete, so refer to your coach’s advice on this.
For all of the non-athletes, make sure you are stretching between thirty seconds to one minute. But don’t push yourself too hard, or else you will start to feel that myofascial pain!
Use a Foam Roller:
If you don’t already own a foam roller, you have probably seen one. These dense rollers, made entirely of foam, are great tools to help work out those tight spots.
Don’t be excessive about it, but rolling out tight spots a few minutes a day can go a long way. This is a mild form of fascia release in itself.
Sauna It Up:
Does your gym have a sauna? Take full advantage of it whenever possible. It’s a great natural form of fascia release. Saunas have been shown to improve overall well-being.
Look at Hot or Cold Therapy:
Using a heating pad or a cold pack against the pain point can help you. The fascia naturally responds to stimulation, but this for sure won’t fix the underlying problem. The goal is to get the saran wrap to stretch back out again, which can happen by applying either heat or cold.
A note about this one, though: not everyone’s body responds to both! Test this one out to find out whether hot, cold, or both work best for you.
Maintaining proper hydration levels can help prevent the fascial tissue from binding to itself and other structures. A rule of thumb is drinking half your body weight in ounces each day!
The traditional 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water can be sufficient, but the higher the altitude the more water you will need. If you are more active, you will need more water to stay adequately hydrated.
Eating foods that are high in sugars and carbs or an “inflammatory diet” can cause the fascia to stick and bind. You can be eating foods that are causing a low level of inflammation in your body without even knowing it. Sticking to whole foods and plant-based/focused diets can be a good start!
This is all to say, that keeping your fascia healthy can seem like a full-time job. But being healthy doesn’t have to be a chore or a burden! Self-care is extremely important for both your overall health and your fascia. These simple but effective techniques are fairly easy to do at home and, when built into a routine, demonstrate why self-care works.
Still in A Lot of Pain? Get Help.
Being stiff, hurting, and chronically unhappy is a recipe for general unwellness. If you are experiencing severe pain, it might be time to seek help.
There are a couple of reasons we recommend professional help, especially if that help is a therapist who understands myofascial release and massage techniques.
One of the most common reasons is nothing else is actually working.
Many patients see multiple doctors for their localized pain, and nothing helps relieve the pain, whether it’s medication, shots, or other forms of therapy. This is a common problem in medicine in general, but especially for fascia as it is often not well understood by doctors.
Another reason to seek help is if you have researched treatment options for general pain without having seen a doctor.
Many patients are overall skeptical of medicine if they have had negative experiences in the past. The internet is full of information about massage, and it’s possible you might have stumbled on massage therapy. (Or had a friend or family make the recommendation!) This is a great start.
Ultimately, if any of the pain you are experiencing becomes too much, it’s time to seek professional help.
Altru’s Myofascial Release Massage Therapists
Here at Altru Integrated Health, we know that myofascial pain can drastically impact your overall well-being. That’s why our specialists, Kevin, and Raquel, are available to help pinpoint exactly how to help you with your pain. ,
One of Kevin’s specialties is myofascial massage for sports, helping athletes get back into shape through myofascial release techniques that target pain directly. He has over twenty-two years of experience working in massage and was voted Best Massage Therapist in Cincinnati in 2017!
Raquel’s trigger point massage will help relieve knots, which can be formed by an imbalance in your fascia. This will help relieve myofascial pain directly at the source. Raquel has worked with both the Denver Broncos and the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center, so she knows exactly how to help relieve your pain!
Experiencing Myofascial Pain? Get in Touch With Altru Integrated Health
We make it as convenient as possible to get in touch with us, as our Integrated Health facility and our professional staff are always accepting new clients.
You can easily schedule an appointment with one of our massage therapists via our contact form or give us a call at (719) 201-4759. It’s best to reserve an appointment, as our massage therapists are not accepting walk-ins at the moment. For any general questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!