Fascia? What is THAT?! In this article Tammy Bergstrom, CMT is going to break it down for you and explain why popular cupping therapy can help keep it healthy.
Have you ever felt like a horse was sitting on a nerve? Maybe even two horses? You’re not alone, and you’re not
crazy. Severe soft tissue pain that often shows nothing on standard clinical tests can be a result of fascial restrictions in the body.
World renowned Physical Therapist John Barnes describes fascia in this way:
“Fascia is a tough connective tissue which spreads throughout the body in a three dimensional web from head to foot without interruption. The fascia surrounds every muscle, bone, nerve, blood vessel and organ of the body, all the way down to the cellular level. Therefore, malfunction of the fascial system due to trauma, posture, or inflammation can create a binding down of the fascia, resulting in abnormal pressure on nerves, muscles, bones, or organs. This can create pain or malfunction throughout the body, sometimes with bizarre side effects and seemingly unrelated symptoms. It is thought that an extremely high percentage of people suffering with pain and/or lack of motion may be having fascial problems; but most go undiagnosed, as the importance of fascia is just now being recognized. All of the standard tests, such as x-rays, myelograms, CAT scans, electromyography, etc., do not show the fascial restrictions.”
Imagine a thin yet strong and flexible material… perhaps like cheese cloth… wrapped around all of your muscles. In its optimal condition, fascia provides support and flexibility for the structure. However, life tends to leave its mark. The various traumas we have encountered in our lives have caused restrictions in different parts of the fascial system. Restrictions in the fascial system cause compression to the muscles and nerves; what John Barnes, PT refers to as a “straightjacket of pain.” Based on the looks on some of my clients faces... I know they can relate with this phrase.
Being a fully connected system, restriction in one area of the body may be causing pain in an entirely different area. That broken ankle you had 5 years ago has most likely caused fascial restriction that is contributing to hip and even shoulder pain. No issue in the body can really be isolated from the rest of the body. Pain tends to be coming from multiple sources of imbalance.
So what happens when fascia in released?
First, fresh blood and lymph fill the area, oxygenating the starved cells. Cells are only as healthy as their environment. Fascia provides the interstitial space (space between the cells) necessary for cells to perform metabolism, respiration, and elimination. Let me ask you a question: Do you feel better when you’re standing in a crowded subway station underground… or in an open meadow with sunshine and a nice breeze by yourself or with a few people? The crowded subway with minimal air flow is your muscle tissue in a restricted environment. The open meadow experience happens after the fascial release. :)
How is fascial release performed?
Sliding Cupping for Fascial Release has been incredibly effective for my clients. At the beginning of the session, I put oil on the clients back, and suction the silicon cups gently to the back. The amount of tissue sucked into the cups can be adjusted. A deeper suction gets a deeper release. People have described the feeling as the tissue “coming unstuck”. The release is felt immediately and the tissue starts to soften and move again. The cups do not leave marks, as they are moving on the back the entire time. I start by removing restrictions close to the spine, then use the cups on all of the back and shoulder muscles. By the time I am ready to perform deep tissue massage, the boundary of resistance has already softened, and the muscle gets a much deeper release without the tight fascia in between.
Sliding cupping can also be done on the hips, legs, and arms. As most people have fascial restrictions all over the body, there are various techniques for each area. I plan to take several training courses on fascial release this year and am excited to share my knowledge and new techniques with my clients! Stay tuned! In the meantime, I encourage you to experience the benefits of sliding cupping yourself. It is an amazing therapy which feels great and has long lasting results. Regular clients of mine who have gotten multiple cupping sessions have reported long term relief from previous chronic pain issues. I look forward to working with you! Blessings on your health!