As Massage Therapists, we look at the body as a whole unit. We try to understand why the body is performing in a dysfunctional state using all pieces of information we can gather. We never assume the pain a client is experiencing is only coming from one localized area; for example neck pain. We all have it at some point. When that pain becomes chronic and life altering it begins to make a serious change to how your body is performing. Initially we check and work on all the neck muscles and upper shoulder (Trapezius) muscles. Our hope is for a lasting positive change in neck pain. However, this is not always the case and here is the reason why. Throughout our body we have a web-like connective tissue called fascia. This fascia overlays all other tissues in the body to create a fibrous protection and barrier. As massage therapists we see a connection in how these areas of fascia can get tied up, or “twisted” causing pain signals to fire to different areas in the body. We feel fascia can be the major issue for people suffering from fibromyalgia. (We’ll talk more about fibromyalgia on another day, this is just one example of the importance that fascia plays in the body’s daily function).
Let’s move on to the concept of fascial planes. This is the term we use to describe how adjacent structures slide relative to each other to facilitate movement in our bodies. As we move, parts of our body will need to move in a different direction from each other without pulling on each other exclusively for full range of motion. If we get any restriction in the fascia, dysfunction will begin in our bodies causing inflammation and what our brain recognizes as pain.
Let’s go back to where we started with the severe neck pain that cannot be relieved by deep muscle work in the upper body. If we follow the path fascial planes make throughout the body we can begin to see that there may be restrictions within the glutes (buttock), hamstrings (back of thighs) or even gastrocnemius area (calves). One this client’s next treatment we may switch our attention to those areas and see how the tissue feels and responds to therapeutic massage. Many times, to the clients surprise they begin to feel better. That pull from their lower body is released causing blood flow to move in complete pumping motions and stop pooling (inflammation). The blood stops getting stuck in the tissues which then helps the homeostasis of the body return to normal, thus causing what we feel as healing!
This work is so amazing for so many issues we may experience in the body and is truly why we love our job. We love helping the body by facilitating these areas to allow the body to really heal itself. So if you have a story similar to this that you would like to share, or a question about fascial planes and how it relates to your healing, we would love to hear from you!
Here at the OM Center we love educating about massage therapy and all of the alternative therapies we use to help the body work at its highest potential. We have started this blog so we can hear from all of you. Each month we will try to post about topics that we feel would be interesting and educational for our clients to read. Please feel free to ask questions on these topics and let us know if there are any topics you would like us to focus on.
Adrian OM Center's owners: Leslie Place and Allison Skeels