Hi lovely people of the internet! Have you ever had a massage and said “HECK YES, that was amazing!”, but then days later you feel just as bad as when you got the massage? Indeed, it is similar to dieting for years on end, but never being able to loose any weight. If that’s you and you constantly feel like your massages just are not doing the trick… let me introduce you to the beauty of something I like to call myofascial release [aka my secret overall body cure!]
The reason why you don’t loose weight when you try a gazillion different fad diets is simple. You are fixing a temporary problem, instead of getting to the root cause of what is going on in your body. The same is true with getting our bodies to feel SPECTACULAR and out of pain, tightness,.
So…. UMM..what is it? What in the world is this thing called FASCIA?
While it sounds like it may be the trendiest, newest color on the market [like fuscia! get it you guys?!], I can promise you it is not! It is actually, the cognitive tissue of our bodies. Mmmhmmm that’s right. Fascia forms a continuous network throughout the entire human body, covering and connecting every single organ, every muscle, and even every nerve or tiny muscle fiber…. SAY WHAT! If you are thinking “How have I never heard of this stuff when it literally connects everything in my body?!” I am right there with you, jaw dropped and all. Before I met my amazing friend and fascia expert, Meki, I really had NO clue what fascia was. Nope. Zero. None. Zilch.
So instead of telling you ALL about what I know about fascia, I actually want to introduce you to my amazing bestie, and health and wellness expert, Meki Blackwell. Before we get all science-y on you, I want you to know that Meki is one of the most wonderful, kick-butt women I know. This is why:
She has the longest, prettiest blonde hair I have ever seen, kind of like Rapunzel. She frequently breaks out into random acts of dance. She is teeny-tiny, and I frequently want to put her in my pocket but sadly her name isn’t Polly. She used to be an LA lLakers dancer [cuz, she’s knows how to get downnnn]. She is also classically trained in ballet. She has read more books than me, times 20 at least. She has biceps without even trying. She is incredibly wise [sometimes I am stunned at how much wisdom lives inside that tiny body!]. And lastly [here’s the kicker!] she recently finished her Masters in Dance Science and is basically an expert in all things about your body.
In conclusion, Meki is the kind of woman you not only admire, but you trust when it comes things of body. If you want to contact her now based on this incredible description of her, you can reach her here!
SO! Now that you know about this amazing expert of a woman, let’s get to the real magic of this post, shall we…why is myofascial release BETTER than a massage?
Why do we need this thing called fascia, anyway?
“When the connective tissue in the body gets stuck or bound in an area, there is a loss of fluid to the web-like fibers of fascia, resulting in pain or discomfort surrounding muscles and muscle fibers in the form of tightness, soreness, irritated nerves and/or the inability to move freely. Fascia does not show up on an MRI or x-ray and may be the hidden cause of unexplained pain in your body.”
Wait, so you are telling me that the tightness, soreness, and pain in my body could actually be coming from a build up of fascia tension in my body? Essentially that means that I have potentially been focusing on the wrong thing my whole life when my body was aching. Ay carumba!
So… how does myofascial release actually relieve pain?
The connective tissue system of the myofascia is linked to a specific part of your nervous system [autonomic], and together the connective tissue works with this system to regulate posture, the positioning of joints, and communication between the body and mind. The communication between the autonomic nervous system and connective tissue system is extremely important to ensure that muscles are contracting properly. When the fascia does not have enough fluid among its fibers (a web-like construction made mostly of collagen), it stiffens and inhibits the muscles from contracting and releasing fully, and can even shift postural structures out of alignment. When the body is mal-aligned, it is not supported by gravity, but fighting it; exhausted muscles aiming to shop and walk and run and play while upholding a mal-aligned skeleton is a time-tested recipe for chronic pain (not to mention less than ideal posture).
Okay, so what you’re realllyyyyy saying is that fascia is connected to my nerves and my mind, and pretty much controls whether or not my muscles are tight hence making me feel like a constant stone statue [and not in a good way]. Indeed, fascia is actually the biggest reason for tightness, soreness, and pain in our bodies. So if the fascia is stuck, you can pretty much guarantee our bodies will be stuck out of alignment and in pain.
How is Myofascial release different from massage? [This is the big stuff! Pay attention!]
Massage focuses on musculature and muscle tissues. Myofascial release focuses on the connective tissues. While massage focuses on soothing pain and soreness, myofascial release aims to eliminate the cause the of the pain and soreness. Myofascial release is the is the holistic medicine, the integrated mind/body/soul approach to manual therapy. Patients with pain or loss of motion from injuries, surgery, bad posture or trauma have found myofascial release beneficial. Because of its connection to the nervous system, it can improve mood, balance, cognition, and energy as well as alleviate pain, improve posture and restore movement.
So, what in the world did Meki do to help moi?
Kait had a classic condition of mild Kyphosis (rounded shoulders). I released the connective tissue around the borders of her shoulder blades, in between her upper ribs, up the back side of her neck and into her skull, as well as along the borders of the clavicle and the chest bone (manubrium). This was to open her shoulder girdle alone lateral plane helping her to stand taller with a more elevated chest and upper body, and to allow her shoulder blades to glide along her back, improving the discomfort she felt with moving her shoulders, and creating a more stable for her arm and rotator cuff.
Y’all this is no joke. I actually grew a bit in my rib cage becauseeeee of how much Meki helped my body through her amazing myofascial release. Are you as BLOWN away as I am from myofascia release and all the benefits?! You guys it literally stuns me how much of a true difference it has made in my overall posture, mood strength, flexibility, and overall wellness.
So what does this all really mean?
The top 5 benefits of myofascial release are [drumroll please…]:
- It helps your mind and body integrate so you are operating with ONE system, not two. [Gosh, I want to be one system.. I am only one person after all.]
2. It can eliminate the cause the of pain and soreness in and throughout your body [Hallelujah and Amen.]
3. It helps to release memories associated with traumatic injury that is stored in the body. [Who knew memories were not only stored in our brains but ALSO our bodies!
4. It improves mood, balance, and energy! Woohoo!….what every single one of us secretly needs and wants.
5. It alleviates pain, improves posture and restore movement. [‘Nuff said.]
6. It increases range of motion so you can have maximum flexibility! [I’ve never felt more like a noodle. Okay, now I want spaghetti.]
So now that I have convinced you that myofascial release is BETTER than a massage [you’re welcome!], I am so excited for you to try it! If you are local to Los Angeles, you can contact my dearest Meki for your very first session. If you are not in Los Angeles, google or yelp your nearest myofascial release specialist and start on your journey to healing within your body!
Workout outfit: Onzie
Photos from Peter Helenius