What the Fascia Is In Massage Therapy, And How It Impacts You
With regards to anatomy, Fascia is a layer of fibrous tissue which encloses a muscle or other organ. Every time we use a muscle, we stretch fascia which communicates the force of the muscle contraction, the status of the muscle’s movement, rate of change in muscle length, and position to the central nervous system. It plays an important role in the awareness of the position and movement of the body. The fascia is a membrane that extends throughout the body and numerous muscular expansions maintain it in a neutral tension.
When you contract a muscle, these expansions transmit the information through the fascia.
It is one of our richest sensory organs, with a myriad of tiny nerve endings
‘There really is a sixth sense; it’s called proprioception. It is the sense of position and movement. Without proprioception, you couldn’t stand up, or scratch your nose, because you wouldn’t be able to find it,’ Paul Ingraham, (from his article, Proprioception, The True Sixth Sense).
When we think of the nervous system, we mainly focus on the sensory side, what we can feel. However there is a part of the nervous system which makes things work; that makes muscles and organs function.
Nociception (certain kinds of nerve endings are called nociceptors) is associated with things like pain, constricted blood vessels (vasoconstriction), muscle spasm (this and the previous can cause hypoxia or lack of tissue oxygenation) as well as various deficits in the autonomic nervous system.
When you have a mix of nociceptive stimulation and proprioceptive loss, you are more likely to end up with problems healing, immune system problems, hormonal issues and chronic pain. To avoid this, you need to manipulate, stretch and include ranges of motion on a regular basis. If you’re able to stretch your muscles, and make the most of your awareness of motion and movement, your body has a better ability to relax and digest. It can help treat degenerative osteoarthritis, as it increases the integrity of the muscle tissue.
Why does this matter? Because massage therapy is a less intensive and invasive way of manipulating the muscles, the tension between then, and the nerve endings which control pain, your immune system and your movement.