One of the biggest pieces of advice I give to people is to stretch. Movement is something that is important for everyone especially as we age. But why? Why when we stop stretching for a week is it harder to start again? To put it simply, fascia! So what is fascia? It is the most abundant connective tissue in the body. Fascia surrounds every muscle, bone, blood vessel, and organ – it even surrounds individual muscle fibers. If you were to pull the skin away from muscle, fascia is the cob web like substance in between. As the term connective tissue implies fascia helps hold everything in the body together. There are continuous bands of fascia that run all over the body, even from the bottom of the foot to the tip of the tongue.
The question then becomes, what does this have to do with movement? Fascia can be a fluid substance that allows tissues to glide and move freely. By moving and stretching we help keep the fascia fluid and our bodies mobile. When we don’t move for a period of time fascia tends to thicken which makes movement harder. When we sleep most of us don’t move around a lot so our fascia builds up and thickens. When we wake up and stretch in the morning it will melt easily. So for example, if you go through your day without moving your shoulder, go to sleep, and go through the next day still not moving your shoulder when you do finally move it again it will be more difficult. The longer we go without movement the more fascia will build up and make it more difficult to move when we want to.
Once fascia has built up what can you do about it? For one you can start moving! Stretch a little every day. On top of that try getting a massage. There are massage techniques that are specifically aimed to melt fascia. Myofascial release is a slow deep manual therapy that helps increase mobility along with circulation. Even simple relaxational massage will help improve mobility and help keep the body moving and healthy.
Feel like you could use some help? Schedule a massage today!