Your Body’s Fascia
and why exercise and movement matters
By Adam Field
“The simple act of getting up from my computer sends electrical shocks down the back of my legs and aching in my lower back, creates pain in my buttocks, and makes walking difficult. I am taking too much ibuprofen and my kids are worried about me,” said Teresa, a recent patient.
A bank officer, Teresa was accustomed to a busy and interactive office and frequent in-person meetings. She was always on the go. When the pandemic forced her to work exclusively from home, Teresa’s life became sedentary, and she now sat in front of her computer for hours. As pandemic restrictions eased, she began spending only half her time at home working and helping her children navigate online learning.
When I examined Teresa, I observed the difference in the length of her legs and the crookedness of her pelvis. I explained that her body’s fascia, the thin casing of connective tissue that surrounds and holds her organs, blood vessels, bones, nerve fibers, and muscles in place, was the culprit. In addition to holding these vital parts of the body in place, the fascia’s nerves make it almost as sensitive as skin. Basically, our fascia’s webbing can help or hinder communication between the body’s tissues. When relaxed and oriented properly, our body’s fascia helps us slide, twist, and glide more easily.
Teresa’s long hours at a computer, combined with the stress of the pandemic, left little time for exercise, causing her body to become tight and restricted, making movement painful. She experienced deep spasms in her postural muscles that pulled on her shoulder blades and her upper back fascia that pulled at the base of her skull, causing headaches.
Teresa’s treatment consisted of moist heat to her upper back and a gentle form of myofascial release, a type of physical therapy for treating the myofascial pain syndrome she was experiencing. As I combined this with deeper tissue massage, I saw Teresa’s shoulder blades relax, increased ease of movement, and fluidity in her tissues. I applied gentle manual traction to the base of her skull with both hands, while encouraging slow diaphragmatic breathing, coaxing Teresa’s neck muscles to lengthen as I moved her head gently to further loosen her fascia. Teresa was amazed at how she felt saying her pain had essentially disappeared.
The most important lesson that Teresa learned during her appointment was the interconnectedness of her body, its tissues, and muscles, and the role her fascia plays in all of this. She also learned the importance of exercise and relaxation. She promises to move more and practice the exercises I gave her to take home during these extraordinary times when sometimes there is simply no place to go. The moral of the story: exercise is vital to have your body working correctly!
Adam Field is a physical therapist and founder of Adam Field Physical Therapy, located inside the Jewish Community Center of Buffalo at 2640 North Forest Road, Getzville, NY 14068. Call 716-982-8200 for an appointment or email email@example.com. Visit www.adamfieldphysicaltherapy.com to learn more.