Fascia - what is it and can it cause pain?
What is Fascia?
Fascia is a connective tissue and as the name suggests it connects everything especially muscles and internal organs. It creates a web beneath the skin. I have always thought of fascia as an allusive term and in the past it has been very misunderstood by many medical professionals. However as time has progressed we are beginning to realize how important fascia is to both the function of the body and its connection to pain.
What connects Fascia and Pain?
The common link with fascia and pain can often be linked to the tightness of the fascia. This tightness can be a cause of pain which can be felt in one area of the body but really be originating from a completely different area!
A perfect example to many of us desk based workers is sitting! Sitting is such a simple activity which can cause havoc with our bodies. Sitting for prolonged periods can encourage the hip flexors to become tight and chronically shortened, this then causes your pelvis to tilt forward and put a lot of pressure on the lower back, causing back pain. The pain may be felt in the back but it is originating from the hip.
So to answer the original question ‘Can tight fascia cause pain?’, the answer is a resounding Yes!
Three common causes of a tight fascia:
Chronic Strain – Office work can encourage the shoulders to roll forward due to the unnatural static sitting position. The fascia becomes tighter, causing little painful trigger points and also pulling on the spine causing misalignment. This means that other parts in the chain of fascia can become affected.
Immobility – As little as four weeks of inactivity causes more collagen formation which creates a thicker, less pliable fascia. If the fascia can’t move, it in turn restricts muscle and joint movement. The key to good muscle and joint health is to have no barriers to natural movement.
Trauma – we all experience some form of trauma! The body responds to injury of a muscle or fascia through collagen formation into many layers. Collagen is layered in many different directions over the area to help protect it. If the fibers don’t align properly they contract, causing a tight restricted area, which pulls on the fascia and it becomes less flexible. This lack of flexibility can cause pain.
At Richmond Osteopaths we can help to treat both chronic and acute pain through a variety of techniques and exercises which can help to overcome tight fascia.
In my next blog we will be sharing some videos to demonstrate simple stretching techniques to help get your body moving.
So please watch this space….
Written by Natasha Howard and Nicolette Gygi