*Photo used with permission from Dr. Guimberteau
Fascia is tough, connective tissue that 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, surgery or inflammation can create a binding down of the fascia, resulting in abnormal pressure on nerves, muscles, bones or organs.
It is believed that an extremely high percentage of people suffering with pain, unwanted premature effects of aging and/or lack of motion may be having myofascial problems. These individuals go undiagnosed, as the importance of fascia is just now being recognized. All of the standard tests, such as X-rays, myelograms, CAT scans and electromyography, do not show myofascial restrictions. Fascial restrictions can exert tremendous tensile forces on the fascial, neuromusculoskeletal and pain-sensitive structures. This enormous pressure (approximately 2,000 pounds per square inch) can create the symptoms of pain, decreased muscular tone in the face and neck, or chronic facial tension.
Fascia at the cellular level creates the interstitial spaces and has extremely important functions of support, protection, separation, cellular respiration, nutrition, elimination, metabolism, fluid and lymphatic flow. In other words, the fascia is the immediate environment of every cell of the body. This means that any trauma, surgery or malfunction of the fascia can set up the environment for poor cellular efficiency, necrosis, disease, pain and dysfunction throughout the face, neck and body.
Traumatic or surgical scars can be a problem because they tend to grow inside the body of an individual, in a unique pattern similar to a vine. Scars you see on the surface are just the tip of the iceberg. As scars begin to pull on pain-sensitive structures, they can create pain and deepen the lines of the face, making one look older than necessary.
There are a number of reasons for scars to form. They can be the result of surgery, infection, tissue inflammation or injuries. A scar can appear anywhere on the body. In addition, the composition of scars can vary. They can be sunken, lumpy, colored or flat; they can also be painful and itchy.
One of the most beneficial therapies for scars is myofascial release, which is a gentle, hands-on technique that has been proven to be highly effective in reducing pain, headaches, fibromyalgia, minimizing scars and in increasing tone of the face and neck areas, producing a more youthful appearance.
Scars can have an internal drag effect, coupled with gravity on the musculature and skin, which increases the sagging that tends to occur in some people. Myofascial restrictions tend to overstretch the elastic myofascial complex. The myofascial complex consists of collagen, elastin and musculature, and the stretching of the elastic component is what leads to the acceleration of the aging process, creating lines and wrinkles and decreasing tone.
John F. Barnes, P.T., L.M.T., N.C.T.M.B., is an international lecturer, author and acknowledged expert in the area of myofascial release. He has instructed more than 75,000 therapists worldwide in his myofascial release approach, and he is the author of Myofascial Release: The Search for Excellence (Rehabilitation Services Inc., 1990) and Healing Ancient Wounds: The Renegade’s Wisdom (Myofascial Release Treatment Centers & Seminars, 2000). He is on the counsel of Advisors of the American Back Society; he is also on MASSAGE Magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board; and is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association. For more information, visit www.myofascialrelease.com or you can view a new brochure here.
For more information about myofascial release, view two separate excerpts from the Fireside Chat with John F. Barnes, PT DVD on YouTube. Click on the following links:
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