These techniques work on the muscles and the fascial layers of the body. Fascia is areolar tissue: it is an irregular connective tissue composed of a loose arrangement of collagen and elastin fibres in a viscous ground substance. It is the most widespread tissue in the body: it connects and supports tissues and organs.
It is laid down in large sheets throughout the body, connecting skin to muscle; wrapping around muscle bundles; connecting muscles to each other and to bone; and is found supporting organs and lining body cavities. There are three types, located in different areas of the body.
Subcutaneous fascia, which lies beneath the skin and is a continuous layer all over the body. It connects the skin to the underlying tissues and in the normal state allows smooth movement between the two.
Deep fascia, which lies in sheets and bands around and between muscles. It binds muscle fibres into bundles, and muscle bundles together; it surrounds the entire muscle and also lies in layers between muscles, linking them together and attaching them to the bones. Pliability and flexibility of this deep fascia is therefore essential to facilitate smooth movement during contraction and relaxation of the muscle. When conditions are normal the connective tissue is pliable and allows full movement of the muscle but under abnormal conditions, when the fascia becomes thickened, tight and inflexible, full-range movement will be limited.
Subserous fascia, which lies between the deep fascia and the serous membrane that lines the body cavities. It supports organs and facilitates movement between them (these techniques will not reach or affect this layer).
Connective tissue is capable of change: it becomes more pliable with movement and temperature increases, but becomes tight and inflexible with tension and cold. Following trauma or when abnormal postures are held over a period of time, the connective tissue in the area thickens and becomes more fibrous. It becomes less pliable and may cause distortion of the tissues. These sheets of fascia interconnect throughout the body and any tightness or distortion in one area may cause problems in another.
Any of the pre-mentioned causes can result in tightening of the connective tissue with distortion and limited function of adjacent tissues, e.g. injury, postural or psychological problems.
The aim of myofascial techniques is to realign fibres, to soften and increase the mobility and pliability of the fascia and restore full function.
Was this article helpful?