How long have you got?
There isn’t one straightforward answer to this question. Fixing myofascial restrictions is undoubtedly easier than explaining how they got there. It is for us anyway, with many years of experience under our belts. But there is no short answer when it comes to explaining what causes them.
But for those just discovering the magic that lies in the mysterious myofascia when it’s released and unrestricted; either you’re a patient with chronic pain or a physical therapist or physician who wants to learn more. We’ll do our best to explain what causes the problematic restrictions to form in myofascia in the first place. So, here goes.
If you have children, you’ll know how often they ask “Why?” daily. Like, ‘why the sky is blue?’ or ‘why is the grass green?’ or ‘why does the sun shine?’
It’s human nature to question and want to know why things happen. This desire is especially true when you suffer from chronic pain. It can be so debilitating and affect your life on such a profound level. You need to know why something is happening to your body. After a while, finding the answers and the reason for your pain becomes your life’s work.
You shun everything in favor of getting to the truth.
“Why is my body failing me?”
This question is one that many of our patients ask when they come to see us. But, even though myofascial restrictions and the associated pain feels bad, we believe it’s a positive thing. It’s your body’s clever warning system to let you know that something needs your attention, before the whole system malfunctions. Something is off – like a car that needs oil or an annual service. The dashboard is flashing to get you to pull over and deal with the issue before driving on.
In human terms, rather than cars, it could be an emotional issue – like chronic stress, divorce, grief, or unresolved trauma. It may be physiological – like a vitamin or mineral deficiency, food intolerance, or chronic dehydration. Maybe it’s that time in high school when you broke your ankle on the soccer field. Perhaps it’s all those things put together.
It may be hard to explain Myofascial Restrictions. But once you know about them and try a Myofascial Release Therapy treatment for the first time, it all clicks into place – and you wish you’d known about it long ago.
What Is Fascia?
Your fascia, or myofascia as we call it, is the three dimensional web of connective tissue made from collagen and elastin fibers that encases your entire body, inside and out. It keeps your skin on, wraps around and through your heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, spleen, and other organs. It weaves in and out of your bones, stabilizing, protecting, and fusing essential structures. It’s solid. It’s flexible – it’s almost anything your body wants or needs it to be to do the job.
When it’s working well, your myofascial tissue works like a well-oiled – or more accurately: hydrated machine. It bends and twists, stretches, and flexes.
It’s soft and springy when palpated, looks and feels healthy, and doesn’t cause pain. When it’s not working well – or you have myofascial restrictions, it’s rigid, inflexible, dysfunctional, and painful. It’s you on a good day when it’s working well versus you when you’re cranky, dehydrated, and sleep-deprived when it isn’t.
So, What Causes The Myofascial Restrictions?
Sometimes, the process goes a little something like this…
It may have started with the broken ankle and escalated from there.
It probably felt like it healed ok. But underneath the skin, a thick band of scar tissue formed. It changed the original position of your ankle – moving it off to the side, which (believe it nor not) shifted your shoulder forward. Then the stresses and strains of life happened, which caused you to hold your shoulders up in a position of tension.
This tension, over time, weakened the already stressed shoulder muscles that were out of place anyway from the ankle fallout. So, the connective tissues and myofascia around the shoulder stiffened and shortened. They got dehydrated, and everything spiraled from there. Your body’s internal warning system started flashing with chronic pain in your shoulder capsule, radiating up into your neck as the problem spread and led to headaches and tinnitus too.
But everyone’s myofascial story is different. In some ways, your myofascia tells your life story: the stresses, the strains, the collisions (although you do need a specialist to decipher the code). Instead of everything being written in the stars, it’s written in your fascia.
The mechanisms and the process of dehydrated, shortened, and stiff myofascial tissue causing issues are the same. But the root cause and the parts of the body affected – your story – are always different. In some cases, the initial inflammatory response that triggers the cascade that causes myofascial restrictions is surgery and associated scar tissue. In others, it’s trauma – like a trip, fall, car accident, sport injury, a broken bone, or impact or collision.
If you try to imagine you’re wearing your fascia like a one-piece, full-body suit – like a spider’s web interconnected together, it’s easier to understand. When a problem arises (injury, inflammation, or illness) anywhere in the suit, it affects everything.
If you pull one part – the rest responds, repositions, and compensates. It’s a natural process and the body’s clever way of adapting – it’s what makes healing possible after a broken bone. It’s amazing. But occasionally, the body doesn’t get things 100%, and further problems (myofascial restrictions) – or a knot in the hosepipe – arise from the adaptations.
Do you have myofascial restrictions?
Are you alive? Then the answer is very likely, yes. Mostly we get by and manage okay, up until a point of too much.
Then, your body will feel stiff, tight, and painful – either in specific areas or all over your body. You may have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Myofascial Pain Syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome – or many other so-called mysterious illnesses with no apparent cause.
You might feel unusually tired and sore after exercise – or suffer from a lack of mobility that makes everything, even walking sometimes, feel more strenuous and difficult.
Pain can be unrelenting – often non-responsive to over-the-counter pain pills. Your range of motion in specific joints, or when you try and twist or bend, might be reduced or restricted – like lifting your arms above your head or twisting your body to the left.
You may also feel numbness or tingling, headaches, ringing in your ears, or shooting pains from trapped nerves and decreased blood flow. Your symptoms are likely to be broad and varied – with no apparent explanation or reason for the pain or the associated symptoms. This transient and ever-evolving set of symptoms is the most common pattern we see in patients with myofascial restrictions who come to our clinic.
The mystery of myofascia – and the lack of acknowledgment of its power and influence inside the human body within Western Medicine – lies in the inability to see myofascial restrictions on scans like X-ray, MRI, or CT scans.
They don’t show up on blood tests or other standard evaluations performed by your family physician either. Sadly, it’s human nature to doubt what we can’t see. But myofascial release and the influence of our myofascia in chronic pain is gaining traction in Western Medicine.
In the future, it is likely to play a much more significant role in the treatment and finding the root cause of chronic pain conditions. But until then, skilled myofascial release therapists can find myofascial restrictions in your body. They look for posture problems, misaligned bones, and tight and painful tell-tale trigger points.
How To Treat Myofascial Restrictions
If you think myofascial restrictions could be to blame for your chronic pain or mobility problems. We recommend you consult with a Myofascial Release Therapist as soon as possible to help you identify the root cause. We can get you out of pain fast, without painkillers, steroid injections, or other invasive treatments.
After taking your complete medical history, we examine your body to track back from the restrictions in your myofascia to find the root cause of your problems.
We then use a specialized form of hands-on therapy, which uses a balanced formula of sustained pressure and patience to rehydrate the fascia and allow it to stretch, elongate and release. We work on a much deeper level than traditional massage or manual physical therapy – working with the tense collagen fibers deep in the connective tissue.
This more in-depth therapy is what enables the tissue release to become permanent rather than a temporary fix. We use a holistic approach that looks at the body and mind as a whole and finds and fixes the root cause for long-term relief and a happier, healthier body.
There are things you can do at home to help relax and hydrate your myofascial tissue, like:
- Walking and staying active
- Mobility practice
- Self-myofascial release (foam rolling)
- Eating well and staying hydrated
- Reducing stress and tension
However, the results from these activities alone are not enough to release myofascial restrictions that have formed and solidified, possibly over decades. You need a professional – if you want effective results. Plus, when you’re in severe pain or suffering from massive reductions in your mobility, then Yoga, Pilates, and even walking may not be possible for you.
Looking for some professional help? Get in touch with us through our contact page.