Optimizing Movement Through Healthy Fascia
Jul 29, 2013 07:46AM
● By Dr. Jonina Turzi
Dr. Jonina Turzi
Many people are familiar with the idea of fascia as the matrix of sinewy fibers that surrounds all of our inner structures—muscles, blood vessels, organs and nerves—allowing them to slide and glide fluidly. This connective tissue also can condense in ways that help transmit forces to our bones and can align itself to support our organs optimally in their vital functions.
Yet, fewer folks are aware that fascia is also an underlying determinant of mood, alertness and general well-being because it acts as a riverbed for the flow of interstitial fluid, thus influencing the immune and hormonal systems. When fascia is healthy, it's like a physiologic fountain of youth, offering salubrious buoyancy through which our bodies feel light and free.
When we suffer from a restriction to any area of our fascia, it eventually demands that we recognize where we are stuck or movement potential has been lost. The web of fascial fibers is constantly adapting. When an area is not moved for a while, it can become dense or thick. Inevitably, structures nearby will feel the tension in their neighborhood.
Insults that are more precise can also occur. For example, after skin damage caused by radiation, for example, or surgery of any kind, the body lays down a network of protective material to stabilize and heal the disrupted tissues. Like a scab on the outside of the skin (which is also connected to our fascia, incidentally), the fibers beneath the skin can thicken and impede the movement of the local muscles, bones and organs.
Often, restrictions happen without our initial awareness. Years of disuse insidiously cause losses in range of motion or vitality. Little by little, our brain starts to lose connection to the areas of the body that are laden with restrictions until one day we realize, for example, that one leg is much weaker than the other or we can't turn our head evenly from side to side.
In the case of surgery and subsequent scarring, fibers proliferate locally near the site of damage in a relatively short period. To a certain extent, this is necessary for healing. However, scar tissue may become entangled with what was already a congested and unhealthy area. Then, when symptoms of pain, decreased range of motion and additional tissue damage from impingement follow, additional surgery may be advised, which leads to a persistent cycle of dysfunction.
“Tension is theft,” says 90-year old yoga teacher Vanda Scaravelli, “It robs us of the ease and fluidity that is our inherent state.” Yet, these restrictions are temporary, and we hold the privilege of being able to reclaim our inner space. Nutrition, hydration, movement therapy and bodywork form a regimen for wellness. Here is a list of tips for restoring balance to an arrested area.
• Eat well and drink ample water daily. A good guideline is to drink a number of ounces equivalent to half of one's body weight in pounds; for example, a 150-pound person should drink about 75 ounces each day.
• Stretch consistently, especially after cardiovascular exercise and prolonged time spent in one position.
• Practice healthy movement, posture and breath with a skilled yoga teacher or movement specialist to enhance the body’s efficiency and grace.
• Receive regular bodywork to prevent excessive buildup of restrictions. Specifically, after any surgery, seek scar tissue manipulation by a trained professional to break up and remodel unwanted adhesions that might be starting to develop.
• Meditate on the body in its present time and space. Simply bringing attention to the body brings healing and regeneration.
Human beings are capable of taking care of themselves. Dance luminary Martha Graham reminds us, “All that is important is this one moment in movement. Make the moment vital and worth living. Do not let it slip away unnoticed and unused.
Jonina Turzi is a doctor of physical therapy and certified yoga teacher who specializes in osteopathic and myofascial manual techniques. She is the owner of a private physical therapy practice in Lancaster, where she blends traditional yoga and neuromuscular retraining. For more information, visit JoninaTurzi.com.