Any traumatic force to the head can cause restrictions in the dural fascia, as well as the superficial and deep fascia of the head and neck. Restrictions in this area can affect the whole body. Myofascial Release is a technique for the evaluation and treatment of pain and dysfunction. The technique is gentle, and the goal is to restore mobility in fascia and to soften connective tissue that has become rigid. It works very well as part of a comprehensive physical therapy program including therapeutic exercises and modalities.
Fascia is a loose, irregular connective tissue that spreads three-dimensionally throughout the body. It covers the muscles, bones, nerves, organs, and vessels. It consists of four layers:
• Subcutaneous - continuous layer over the entire body between the skin and deep fascia
• Deep - series of sheets and bands that hold muscles and other structures in place
• Subserous - lies between the fascia and serous membranes lining the body cavities
• Deepest - within dura mater of the craniosacral system (cranium, spine, sacrum)
The fascia can not be seen on x-rays, CT scans or EMGs. Its functions include support, protection, separation, cellular respiration, elimination, fluid flow, immune system function, and allowing the body to resist mechanical stresses. All structures of the body can be affected when fascial restrictions occur.
Fascia is a system in the body that looks like a spider’s web. It is densely woven over and in every muscle, bone, nerve, arteries/veins, and all of our internal organs. The fascial system can be thought of as one continuous structure that twines throughout our body, interconnecting everything. This provides strength to the argument that everything in our bodies are connected—when one thing is out of whack, multiple things can be affected.
Fascia in a healthy state is relaxed, stretchy, and movable. When one experiences physical trauma, fascia loses its pliability. Trauma, inflammation, and surgeries create restriction in the fascia that can produce incredible amounts of pain, pressure, and range of motion loss within the body. Fascial restrictions affect our flexibility and stability, impeding our every-day activities. The restrictions can be caused by physical trauma or injury, poor posture or structural imbalance, and inflammation or infection. Restrictions can cause limited mobility, postural distortion, poor cellular nutrition, pain, and other dysfunctions. Because of the interconnectedness of the tissue, restriction in one part of the body can affect other distant parts. The fascia also stores memory of past traumatic events. Psychosomatic adaptations may occur, which may cause one to avoid positions which are associated with pain.
Your therapist will evaluate your body visually and by palpating (feeling) tissue texture. Gentle pressure is applied by slowly pushing, pulling, and stretching the skin. Fascia has the characteristic of thixotrophy, which means it can change from a more solid to a more gel-like state with movement and increase in temperature. Some techniques are:
• Sustained Stretch - gentle pressure into the direction of restriction, usually with a sliding motion that stretches the tissue.
• Skin Rolling - gently picking up and pulling skin away from underlying structures. This stretches subcutaneous fascia, breaks cross-links, and makes tissues more pliable.