I've been getting a lot of questions about fascia lately, about what it is, and how treating it is different than getting a massage. So I'd like to shed some light on some of the newest discoveries about fascia—which I believe to be the body's most exciting tissue.
Fascia has been in our bodies for millions of years, but our understanding of it (and its importance) is very new and the body of research is growing as we speak…
Fascia is connective tissue that holds us together and keeps our form. It communicates throughout the body, helps vasculature and circulation, proprioception, and so much more. Fascia makes up a huge portion of our bodies: from the tissue holding our organs in place, to our very bones.
Until fairly recently, in the medical world fascia was considered just 'tape' that held us together and it was tossed away or disregarded in surgeries and dissections. It wasn't until recently that we discovered fascia has about 10 times the innervation as its surrounding tissue, like muscles.
This means fascia communicates throughout the body faster than nerve cells, as it relies on mechanical energy transfer, rather than a chemical reaction, to send and receive signals.
Your fascia can tell your brain what’s going on faster than your nerves can. That pretty fascianating! (I'm sorry, I had to).
Fascia also helps absorb and transfer the majority of force whenever we are doing work (something we believed our muscles did until recently).
What is interesting to a manual osteopath is that fascia plays a major role in so many chronic conditions that people suffer with daily.
From back pain, plantar fasciitis, tendinitis, repetitive strain, postural pain, shin splints, the list goes on. So if you aren't treating the fascia, you aren't treating a major component of the problem.
Why not just go for a massage? Doesn't that treat the fascia?
Yes and no. A massage will treat a portion of the fascia, specifically the myofascia (the fascia surrounding muscles) but it won't treat the fascia as a whole. Think of the fascia in your body as a 3D web. When this web weakens in a certain area, the rest of the web has to compensate by changing your posture. A lot of pain people live with is due to these changes.
This is why when you go for a massage due to neck and shoulder pain (too much time in the office chair) it feels great, but after about a week, the pain is back. That is because the web as a whole was not treated, and the compensation that the web is doing hasn't been rectified. Your problem will come back, because only the symptom was treated.
Osteopathy and fascia
A complete fascial treatment addresses the problem, as well as the compensatory changes that your fascial system has made, in order to help fix the cause of the issue. Manual Osteopathy addresses the fascial system as a whole, from your bone and joint alignment, muscle adhesions, visceral (re: organs) adhesions and so on, to help re-balance the body as a unit, as one whole, rather than focusing on separate systems throughout the body.
If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you, simply drop me a line at: email@example.com
Manual Osteopath, RMT
You may have heard about "cranio-sacral" or have even received a treatment in the past, but you may still be wondering what craniosacral is. I've heard many different opinions on it, from it being witchcraft and voodoo that cures all ailments, to "they did nothing at all, just held my head for an hour!" So what exactly is craniosacral?
Well, without getting too far into the esoteric claims that some craniosacral therapists swear by, I'm going to try and explain it all science-like.
Craniosacral deals with the cranium (your noggin), the sacrum (lowest flat part of your back) and the spinal column in between. Our brains our housed within a dural tube, witch encloses and protects our brain and spinal cord, which stretches from our head down to just above our tailbone. Like all tissue in the body, it is designed to move, and like all tissues in the body, it is subject to stresses and tension which inhibit said movement. The basics of craniosacral therapy is to free up anything that is restricting the dural tube, our brains and our spinal cord, as well as the nerves (which exit the spine).
Restrictions can happen anywhere throughout the spine, sacrum, neck, and even your cranial bones. An osteopath or a cransiosacral therapist can very gently mobilize your cranial bones, sacrum, and spinal column, to ease off any restrictions, and allow proper movement to recur.
The techniques an osteopath uses are very gentle because the body is extremely good at protecting itself from outside forces. As you may guess, the body is extra protective of its own brain and spinal cord, so any outside force is automatically resisted. That's why we use such a gentle touch in order to manipulate the cranial bones and dural tube, as anything more intense will be resisted by the body. So the osteopath must first listen to the body's natural movement (feeling the rhythm with their hands), and then gently guide the spinal cord back to it's center, so it may be balanced.
Why should you care if your craniosacral rhythm is out of balance?
I'm glad you asked! Your brain and spinal cord control every process of our bodies, so any imbalance, even a very minor one, can lead to all sorts of problems. From insomnia, headaches, digestive issues, nausea and dizziness, back pain, the list goes on. So as manual osteopathic therapists, we aim to restore balance in the body, so that it may right/heal itself!
Many clients report a sense of lightness and ease after a craniosacral treatment.
I hope this has shed some light on what craniosacral is and what it does, but if you have more questions I would love to hear from you. Just drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours & Health and Wellness,
Manual Osteopath, RMT