We all know tension, some of us too well, but what is actually happening to our body structures to create that hard, painful tension we all relate to?
Most of us can relate to back pain at some point in our lives, but why does our posture cause tension? Where is it coming from and how can we get a full body release that lasts and makes sense to us?
In this blog I want to let you know a little about how tension comes to be, the patterns it follows, how to understand it and how best to treat it…
YOU Massage Therapy are introducing the amazing and uniquely tailored Myofascial release Massage!
What causes Pain?
A trapped skeletal joint can cause muscular reaction but equally muscular and tissue tension can pull on and trap a joint. When a facet (vertebral) joint is trapped, it can impinge a nerve; this can cause excruciating pain, as can herniated discs and other damage or tension around the vertebras effecting how our nervous system operates. This pain is usually sharp or shooting and doesn’t go away when rubbed or soothed. If you have this kind of pain, we recommend you see an Osteopath , follow the link for details of our recommended Osteo Ian Trayner.
Injury can also cause damage to our tissues bringing with it inflammation which can cause a different type of pain. Sports Massage can help with prevention and recovery from injury. Pain is sometimes caused by damaged joint structures such as arthritis or weakened bursas (cushions between joints). Infection or viruses can get into our system and cause localised pain or fever, see you Doctor if you have either of these types of pain…but today we are going to focus on the aches and pains we all suffer with from time to time known as Tension.
What is Tension?
It goes without saying that there are many differentiating situations where tension can arise: a repeated action, poor posture, injury, stress, health conditions or imbalanced structure; but most have a relation to how the connective tissues and fibres behave when under pressure. Therapists use a variety of techniques to release Tension: tightly bound fibres referred to as knots or adhesions, trigger points, scar tissue, spasms etc….there are many names for this occurrence, but what is actually going on there?
The connective tissues that hold us in one price and make up these structures are usually responsible for the tension we feel. Sometimes we can feel imbalanced but the skeleton is not jammed and your posture can be freed when the muscles and tissues are released!
What is Fascia?
Fascia is present everywhere in the body, from our blood vessels to our internal organs and surrounding and linking everything in our body, it is the ingredient that binds everything in the body and most prominently is present in thick bands of connective tissue that loop around and through our torso and limbs, which provide tension (Tensegrity) in the posture to hold us in place as well as both separating and linking our skeletal, muscular and all other organic structures.
These bows and strings of the body are known as fascial lines, Anatomy Trains or anatomy meridians (fascinating that we can now connect Traditional Chinese Meridian points to the very real anatomy meridians that run through our body!). These fascial lines are illustrated and named throughout this blog and all have a lot to answer for when it comes to tension throughout our whole bodies! Our tension is manipulated by this sticky, strong fascia.
How does Fascia manipulate our Tension?
Fascia is constantly reproducing and this spider web like structure can bond otherwise stretchy muscle, ligament, tendon and dermal tissues, often effecting the external skin and internal organs beneath by causing lack of flexibility in the area. This is what people often refer to as knots in the muscle etc, it is fascial that knots it together! As well as causing these tight spots, this will affect the rest of the fascial train, imagine a pully system with a knot tied in it, it is imbalanced and under pressure!
This effect comes when the body is in an imbalance for a period of time or there is scar tissue protecting a small tear. This restriction can have a pulling effect on other areas of the body, and the map of tight fascia, or tension, is apparent.
How can Massage release my Fascia and therefore, Tension?
Trigger point therapy can release a wider area of pain and tension by releasing this tight spot and therefore freeing the rest of, or a portion of the rest of, the fascial line. This involves sustained pressure on a hard spot and is common in Deep Tissue practice.
We are able to provide a wider and mores sustainable release by combining this with other Myofascial techniques. By reading the body, observing and feeling the entire posture, I can determine where any imbalance is; often there are raised, restricted or harder areas of tension where the fascial fibres are closely knitted together.
As well as finding the area of tension, if I look in the right direction along the correct fascial line (often the spiral line) you will find that somewhere along the chain where the fascia is more slack and loose; usually in the complimentary ‘bow’ further along from the tight spot. This gives you an area to ‘gather’ more fascia from and evenly distribute the tissue so that it gives slack to the tight area…
With the right technique, a specially trained Therapist is able to stretch that gathered connective tissue until you have created excess to balance out the area that is tight and restricted, and almost ‘feed’ this around the loop of the body! It can be a little work and require several sessions to release the very tight areas, but by bringing this slack around the body will naturally begin it’s own healing as you have given it ‘room’ to do so. With these rebalancing techniques and correct adjustments to your daily posture (your therapist will be able to educate you on the best methods) you can get long term relief from even chronic (long term) tension.
How can I get my head around how Fascia operates?
To best explain this, imagine a plastic bag: it is stretchy but not elastic; if you provided a lock in the middle of the structure and pulled on one end of the plastic material, the bag will stretch, if you keep pulling, it may almost tear (when this happens in our muscles we get scar tissue gathering to rebuild these spots but this makes it even tighter in that area). Even though this area of the bag is strained, you can pull and pull and it will only stretch so far, part of the structure before the lock (which you can imagine as a tight unmoveable area of tension, imbalanced joint or scar tissue deposit) is left loose and gathered in a relaxed state of being, even though the very same bag is near breaking point in places.
What can I do to help release my own Fascia and Tension?
So, follow the maps in the fascial line diagrams to get an idea of where your tension is coming from! Maybe that pain in your shoulder blade is related to an imbalance in the hip, maybe your glutes are tense because of tension in your calves or maybe, just maybe, your headaches are caused by tension coming all the way from your feet!
It really is fascinating and if you want to try some self help you can try these actions:
Stretching is often restricted by fascia in the same why Tension is. Apply self massage before stretching and see how much further you can get! Do this frequently and you will not only see a reduction in pain but an increase in flexibility! Test it out yourself…try touching your toes and observe in a mirror how far you reach…
Feel with your finger pads from the tense, hard area, which direction down the fascial line does it move freely and which direction does it feel restricted? You want to work through the restricted area, so back away from the tightness until you feel slack, soft tissue. If you want to bring some self relief, try using a tennis ball! Start at the beginning of the line (checking for loops in the spiral line!) and firmly roll the ball in circles along that line toward the tight area, spend time on each area until it feels loose, sometimes it may take a few minutes on areas like the feet, ITB or lower back: be firm and consistent, taking it slowly and covering as much of the area as possible. This will help to open up and stretch gathered tissues and open up and loosen restricted tissues, freeing up your being!
After a few minutes massage on each side, now reach for your toes again and see this difference! You have created slack from loose areas of your feet, legs and glutes and reduced tension in these areas by opening up fascial fibres, thus giving you more stretch!
Book in for an expert Myofascial Release Massage!
You should feel more flexible after a Myo-Fascial Massage which is now available as another of our uniquely tailored treatments to YOU Massage therapy; soon to appear on our website, book yourself in for a Deep Tissue Massage and let your Therapist know you would be interested in trying a Myo-Fascial full body massage; as far as I’m aware the most effective way to relieve tension and Holistically and at the forefront of scientific understanding, which is where we like to be at YOU Massage Southampton, bringing the best in quality, effective Massage in Southampton to you!
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