Healing from injury - what does fascia have to do with it?
In our previous blogs we’ve been diving into different aspects of the mind-blowing subject of fascia. If you are not fully sure what fascia actually is, you can have a quick read here.
Besides the exciting connection between fascia and our emotions, fascia - as part of our musculoskeletal system - plays a major role when it comes to healing from physical injury. This particular aspect of tissue regeneration (and rehabilitation in general) is subject to numerous ongoing scientific studies.
It seems that fascia is a very ‘hot’ research subject these days! ;-)
Well - in my option - for a good reason…
Let me give you an overview of what we know already and more importantly, let me share a few practical strategies with you to support your fascia heal faster after injury.
Around 110 years ago…
… A. T. Still, MD, who was an acute observer of the body, particularly the fascial system, founded the practice of osteopathic medicine. Many of his observations prove true today.
I’d like to share with you an inspirational quote from him which will make the relevance of fascia when healing from injury very evident:
‘... it (fascia) belts each muscle, vein, nerve, and all organs of the body. It is almost a network of nerves, cells and tubes, running to and from it; it is crossed and filled with, no doubt, millions of nerve centers and fibers to carry on the work of secreting and excreting fluid vital and destructive. By its action we live, and by its failure we shrink, or swell, and die. Each muscle plays its part in active life. Each fiber of all muscles owes its pliability to that yielding septum-washer, that gives all muscles help to glide over and around all adjacent muscles and ligaments, without friction or jar. It not only lubricates the fibers but gives nourishment to all parts of the body. Its nerves are so abundant that no atom of flesh fails to get nerve and fluid supply therefrom.’ (Still AT. Osteopathy research and practice. Published by the author in 1910)
Fascia research today
Since fascia is literally everywhere inside the body it is most likely also damaged by any form of injury.
Fascia fact #1: Fascia takes 6-24 months to heal!
That is longer that all the other tissues in our musculoskeletal system. Due to a very slow proliferation rate (there are little living cells inside the fascia - mainly proteins such as collagen and elastin), fascia simply takes longer to renew itself.
Fascia fact #2: After injury or overstrain, the fascia composition tends to change (especially the collagen fiber composition)!
Those alterations always imply change/loss of function. What we often see is tissue which tends to stiffen.
Fascia fact #3: Immobilisation after injury supports the dehydration and thus stiffening of fascia!
Healthy fascia is properly hydrated - that is ‘the golden rule’... But what promotes that? Here are three key elements to healthy fascia hydration:
Fascia fact #4: Injury goes together with tissue inflammation which in turn alters fascia!
Repetitive mechanical straining of fibroblasts (which are the cells inside the fascia) has been shown to result in secretion of inflammatory mediators. This results in biomechanical restriction of fascia - affecting the normal function of force transmission - which contributes to the decreased movement between fascia layers.
What happens if the fascia does not heal properly after an injury?
Well, looking at our 4 fascia facts we can conclude that over time restricted and not properly healed fascia leads to decreased strength and coordination - we have millions and millions of nerve endings inside the fascia - and ultimately pain, proprioceptive issues and dysfunction.
That all sounds rather depressing - what can I do to support the healing process of fascia?
Good news! There is a lot YOU can do to heal your fascia. Through continuous (gentle) practices we can not just heal the physical structure of our tissues but also greatly increase the ability to feel our body: Building a very strong mind-body connection.
In order to fully heal - possibly getting even healthier than before - we need to support the fascia system with safe practices.
Our team at Samarasa is constantly aiming to support you in that direction: Either trough on-campus & online courses, or short video sequences on YouTube and posts on our social media channels. Please support and follow us there.
Other, often overlooked factors in the healing process include the internal attitude. It is KEY to include practices which help us cultivate:
Curiosity and open attention to (re-)discover our body
Forgiveness & acceptance for our body in that moment in time
Gentleness & perseverance during any form of practice
Gratitude for the learning process and exploration of our own body
This list could continue much more... what would YOU add here? What are - in your opinion - essential ingredients for a successful healing process. I am happy to read about your experience!
I wish you best of health!