You must have come across the word ‘fascia’ in the course of your fitness regime. Not many use it, but those who do, know why it is so relevant. It is basically a layer of fibrous tissue, or better still, a part of the connective tissue, that wraps itself around muscles, tissues, blood vessels, and nerves. Fascia are dense connective tissue bundles that contain collagen fibers as well.
They are much more flexible structures as compared to other tissue in the human body, and can resist great tension in any direction. You can consider ligaments, tendons and fascia to belong to the same family.
Fascia And Its Functions
Now, you must be wondering, what role it plays in the human body. They basically provide support and structure to the entire body. Moreover, they also hold all the muscles together. It is because of them, that the muscles, organs and joints can slide over one another, without any damage. It also eases the muscle tension, a lot. Your joint stability increases and so does the strength. The circulation also improves a lot. It is basically the environment, which facilitates all the systems inside the body to work.
There are different layers of fascia inside the body. Let us find out more about them. There are four different layers of fascia in the human body.
- Superficial – It is the outermost layer of the body, which lies just beneath the skin. Elastic fibers and collagen make up the layer. It is much thicker in the chest region and the back region. Moreover, it is a bit on the thinner side on the arms and legs. It contains muscle fibers mainly, that provide a structure to the human body.
- Deep – The deep fascia mainly surrounds the musculoskeletal system. It covers all the bones, muscles, tendons, cartilages, nerves and blood vessels. There are again two categories, one which is thin and the other which is very thick.
- Visceral – The visceral fascia, as the name suggests surrounds the organs. Take for example the stomach, heart and lungs.
- Parietal – This is the last one, and equally important. It mainly lines the inner walls of the body cavities.
Now, most of you may be wondering, why we are discussing fascia here. Does it have a relation with yoga? If you ever face an injury inside the yoga class, you will get the answer then and there. That is what happens to some students, who injure themselves while doing yoga.
Myofascial Release is trending, and for all the good reasons. Moreover, it offers the same benefits as stretching. Many yoga practitioners also learn how to apply self-myofascial release. It also affects the muscle tone. Some gentle pressure on the fascia, can act therapeutically on the sensory nerve endings and it also drives the message to the system, that tension in a particular area is not required.
Some Poses For Myofascial Release Decoded
Here are a few poses, which will aid you in myofascial release.
- Downward Facing Dog Pose – It is one of the poses in yoga, which is also called Adho Mukha Svanasana. In this pose, you have to start by positioning your body on all fours. Lift your body a bit, at the hips, and then slowly straighten the arms and force them against the floor, and you have to simultaneously straighten the legs and press the feet against a wall, if possible. The position often resembles a hill. You can spend some time developing awareness about your breath. Pay attention to the back and the hands as well. You should check, if you feel any tension in any part of the body. Come back to the standing position and give self-myofascial release pressure to the soles of the feet. You can do so, by placing a ball under the feet. Place it below the heel pad. You can exert your full body pressure on the area, where the ball lies. You can move the ball underneath the sole, to various positions. Additionally, you can do the same to the calves as well. Likewise, you can do it for the buttocks as well.
- Thunderbolt Pose – It is another pose, which is quite famous for beginners of yoga, as the Vajra asana. You can directly assume this pose, from the Downward Facing Dog Pose. Sit on your heels, with the toes pointing towards the back. You can rest your hands on the thighs for support. You should keep your mind aware of any stretches that you may happen to feel in any part of the body, including the ankles and the knees. After you are done with this pose, you can give self-myofascial release to the shins. The shins face a lot of pressure in the above pose. So, it is just apt for you to put pressure on that part. As a part of the release, you have to move into the tabletop pose. You can use blocks or a bolster to place under the shins. The knees and the feet should float above the ground. You can also crisscross the ankles and lock the legs to hold the pose. With your hands firmly placed on the floor, palms down you can move forth and backwards. The movement will help you with myofascial release. After you are done, you can again repeat it on the other side.
After you have successfully completed the steps, you will notice that you will be able to perform the same poses in a better manner. There will be less soreness in the muscles as well. It also improves neuromuscular efficiency and blood flow. Moreover, the range of movements of the joints also increases a lot. After you are done, you will notice greater elasticity in the body parts. There is an increased sense of hydration of the collagen and surrounding fascial system. Yoga is a modality that helps in understanding the sore points, so you can work on them and improve your body’s flexibility and decrease chances of injury.