Everyone understands muscles, how they can get tense from stress, sore from overwork, or weak from lack of exercise. But I find that very few people understand fascia – the connective tissue that envelopes our muscles and organs, connects everything together, and holds everything in their proper place. Think of fascia as a gluey, fibrous, sticky 3-D web-like sheaths under our skin. A great image is an orange. Peel off the skin, and you see the white, stringy, fibrous stuff that covers each wedge and also connects each wedge to each other and to the underside of the skin. Another image is that 3-D web. Now imagine what happens when you tug on one string of the web. The whole web shifts, right? The biomechanical term for this is “tensegrity,” which mean “tension + integrity.” When muscles get tight, shortened, weak, out of balance with each other, and shifted out of their proper bilateral symmetry (from postural habits, injury, illness, or stress-related tension) our fascia conforms around these altered, imbalanced muscles and tight, stubborn adhesions in the muscle-fascia matrix occur. Not only does that particular muscle and sheath of fascia get gluey and tense, but the whole connective web of our body potentially shifts. So for example, if the muscles and fascia in the left side of your lower back gets stiff and shortened from sitting at a desk all day for months or years, the muscles and fascia (including ligaments and tendons) at other sites like your upper back, hips, buttocks, and thighs will also become altered to try to compensate for this imbalance in an attempt to maintain structural integrity.
Most of you are walking around shrink-wrapped in your fascia. You feel stiff, tight, tense, restricted, and in discomfort and pain… because you are neither lengthening and strengthening your weak and tight muscles, nor are you releasing your adhered fascia, through active mobility exercises and stretching, and passive massage therapy that includes deep tissue massage and myofascial release. SO MUCH OF YOUR PAIN AND DISCOMFORT CAN BE AVOIDED BY JUST STRETCHING AND STRENGTHENING YOUR BODY 20-30 minutes a day, and getting a massage once every 2-3 weeks. So many doctors’ visits can be avoided, so much money can be saved, so much vitality and freedom can be re-claimed, if you would just tend to your temple. Take care of your body – you only have one your whole life.
A walk around the park with your arms pumping. Big shoulder/arm circles. Lunges. Yoga poses like warrior sequences, down dog, and pigeon pose. Flapping your arms like wings. Reaching down to touch your toes. Simple squats. These things can be done anywhere and don’t cost you a thing. If you need guidance on how to stretch and mobilize your joints and muscles, we will be offering basic stretch, yoga, and mobility classes at Oasis in the Spring-Summer of 2015. We want to help you to become stronger, pain-free, more flexible, less tense, and in control of your health and wellness.
A quality massage is just $55/hr to release the muscle knots and fascial adhesions, and to help restore and rebalance the structural integrity of your body. We offer discounts on massages all the time here at Oasis Healing Arts so that getting regular massages is do-able for you. We have skilled, highly trained massage therapists who understand the tensegrity of your muscles, joints, tendons, and fascia.
Think of yourself always as a WHOLE – your thoughts and feelings, your actions, your muscles and body-wide connective tissues of fascia, the nutrients in the foods you eat that get absorbed into your bloodstream and literally become the cells in your skin, muscles, fascia, organs, and bones in your body, and of course… your spirit, the center of who you are.
You are not a bunch of broken pieces. You are one whole being. Begin to look at yourself and all your body and health issues, thought patterns, emotional concerns and lifestyle habits as interrelated and connected. Believe that you can be WHOLE, balanced, and well. Now ACT on that belief.
Peace and Wellness,
Jamie Chan-Ortega, Ph.D., L.Ac.