The human body has to move to be healthy.
As the human body moves, fluids are circulated, joints are lubricated, muscles are oxygenated, and the soft tissue system goes through a rhythmic motion of contraction and stretch. Movement allows for connection within the body. This is the basis of how our body communicates within itself. And those of us with cell phones, know how important good connection is. We will pay dearly for it. To be out of touch is miserable.
Folks with myofascial pain due to severe restriction are disconnected from parts of their bodies.
Fascia is the great communicator, if you will. It spans throughout the body and allow the toes to talk to the thighs, spine, and head. When we have areas of fascial thickening and restriction, this communication is distorted. Or worse yet, simply doesn’t occur. Without communication in place, movement can be more of a problem than a help. Folks with severe fascial restriction, find that simple movements like walking the dog, can potentially flare up their symptoms.
You want to move, but you can’t. That is the problem. Myofascial release can help.
Myofascial release is instrumental in helping the body to communicate within itself again. After several sessions, you start to feel more. The lines of communication are freeing up. You gain an appreciation of just how interconnected the body is. You are noting first hand how movement in the legs does affect your neck, for example. This is terrific insight.
As this communication gets stronger, movement becomes your ally. Movement allows these new lines of communication to stay open. Now the big question becomes, how do I start moving?
When you have been fascially restricted, you have spent time being too TIGHT. You’ve been stuck in the stress response for way too long.
Before you start moving, you need to retrain your body to relax.
This is an extremely important state of being. When the body is relaxed, tissue healing can occur. Sleep becomes more restful. You exit your brain fog and become clearer mentally. You start to digest and eliminate better. (If nothing else, that ought to have you sold!)
Your goal should be to spend more time in a relaxed state, than a tensed one.
Now that is going to take some retraining on how you use your body. Most of us walk around tense when we don’t need to be. Just habit. To break the habit, you need to become aware of how your body communicates with you and of your movement patterns.
Step 1: Your body is constantly talking to you. Learn its language.
The body uses a wide range of sensations to get its needs met. The problem for most people is that they fail to listen. The body is persistent and will get your attention. Pain is a great way to make us aware that there is a need. Once you get to the stage of severe myofascial restriction, pain is the only message the body uses. The lines of communication are so sticky that subtler messages like tightness, fatigue, and achiness don’t receive any recognition on your part.
The good news is that as your fascial restrictions lessen and your body awareness improves, these gentler cues can be utilized again. The pain card is played less and less.
So here’s your exercise. The next time I ask you how you’re feeling, answer thoughtfully. Check in. Learn to feel again. Be a better listener.
The words that I don’t want to hear are: ok, fine, the same. Because you aren’t. Dig deeper, listen. Work on improving your awareness.
Step 2: Observe your movement patterns. Eliminate unnecessary tension.
Throughout the day, check in with yourself. Where are you tense? Once you find that area, try to relax it and keep it relaxed as you continue on with your day. Sounds simple, but so important. You are on the way to retraining your body how to move. The more you do this, the more conscious you become of certain patterns that emerge. Do you clench your jaw when you’re concentrating, for instance? Do you shrug your shoulders when you type? In the PT world, this is called neuromuscular re-education. Basically, you are simply observing how you move, and eliminating the unnecessary tension. As you practice this throughout your day, your body will gradually respond by maintaining a higher degree of relaxation. What a gift. Think of it as going around and turning off the lights that you don’t need. You will save energy in the end.
Less muscular tension = less tension in the fascia.
Remember that fascia threads its way throughout the muscle. If muscles are constantly contracted, they are pulling the fascia tighter. Relaxing tension in the muscle, helps to maintain freedom within the fascial system.
If you can listen and observe, you can untangle yourself.
Myofascial pain doesn’t go away by DOING more. It goes away when you start UNDOING.
Free up that fascia and feel better. More to come about the exercise question!