While the study of the myofacia isn’t a new science it’s becoming predominantly more discussed in scientific and fitness circles. We can trace the study of this part of the body to Dr. Ida Rolf in the 20’s and more recently in the 2007 Fascia Research Congress Report by Thomas Findley and Robert Schleip. If you didn’t catch that report, you may have heard someone mention the fascia. You may have even heard of SMR — or Self Myofacial Release using a foam roller. Just because someone knows the name doesn’t necessarily mean they understand how that it works or what it does. Fitness people, myself included, call it the Saran Wrap of the body. It is so much more. It can even be the source of your chronic pain.
My personal quest into understanding the myofascia started in March when my massage therapist Brie Smithey mentioned she thought I had some myofacial issues going on. I think she was standing on the table working into my rhomboid muscle and shoulders at the time. I hadn’t ever considered the myofascia as something that could cause issues. I thought it was muscular. When I used a foam roller, I knew there was improved movement but I thought it was because the muscle was being forced to relax. I hadn’t thought about the integration of the fascia into the muscle and entire human body. Until now.
The myofascia is the richest sensory organ in the body. It SUPPORTS, STABILIZES and PROTECTS the body. It runs through every part of the body, through muscle, tendons, even the brain. It has 9 times more nerve endings as muscle and is something you use all the time with every movement you make. In 1920 Dr. Ida Rolf posed this fundamental question:
“What conditions must be fulfilled in order for the human body-structure to be organized and integrated in gravity so that the whole person can function in the most optimal and economical way?”
Her life’s work was devoted to this investigation which led to the system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education that we now call Rolfing®.
Researchers today are continuing to look at the myofascia and how to understand the system. Thomas Myers studied with Dr. Rolf and in a recent webinar he described the relationship of the myofascia as the system that helps you know where you are in space. While science has traditionally broken down one organ or muscle at a time, the time has come to look at the entire body as a system that works together. Start with a basic understanding of where the fascia is in the body. There are 12 lines of the fascia called Superficial Front Line, Superficial Back Line, Lateral Line (2 sides), Spiral Line, Arm Lines (4), Functional Lines (2-front and back), and the Deep Front Line. When they do not work well you can be literally tied in knots.
Knowing this, what do we do about it? This reinforces the understanding of integrated movement in exercise, but can it help us with muscle soreness and tension. PAIN. Especially chronic pain is and can be directly linked to the myofacia and dehydration.
Three things I see as being the best answer to a healthier, pain-free body:
- EAT —— Vegetables — raw is best, but lightly steamed or roasted so they are crispy and slightly warm
- DRINK ——- It all goes back to water. The earth is more water than land and our bodies are 57% water. So why aren’t you sipping throughout the day? It doesn’t take time to do that. You can get wonderful containers out there that will save the environment and lead to a healthier you.
- BE MERRY —— Reduce the stress in your life. If you need to see a professional than do that, but start to learn how to relax and play more.
- MASSAGE AND STRETCH to help your myofacia to get hydrated. This is what Rolfing is about, but other forms of massage is good too. Craniosacral Therapy, Deep Tissue Massage, and my favorite — Skin Rolling. When you have none of that available to you just fall back on the SMF release technique, but be gentle with your body.
While we might want our minds to be sharp and “wrapped tight” we can’t afford to have our bodies tied in knots. Remember, above all, be healthy and take care of yourself.