Myofascia: Unlocking the key to injuries?

On 28th March 2013 by Rachael Woolston

When it comes to training for marathons, unless you are an elite athlete who has either been training since you were a teen, or have experts to hand, most of us will have developed dysfunction in the way our body moves.

Strength and flexibility work should be a cornerstone of any running training to help off set this. But as your mileage increases, most weaknesses are accentuated resulting in niggles.

It has certainly happened with me on this, my third marathon in six months (Lake Garda, Mumbai, and upcoming Paris). But if you know your body, you can take steps to ward off disaster on the road to race day.

My marathon repair magic wand has been myofascial release, an area of fast growing interest in the physio and rehab world.

‘Myofascia used to be referred to as the ‘Cinderella tissue of the body’ because it was never invited to the ball,’ explains Dawn Buoy, founder of Body Rehab Studios, and a trainer of Pilates to physiotherapists. ‘This is because the body used to get looked at in parts, and it is only in the last eight years that body therapists have begun to look at how it functions as a whole.’

Myofascia – myo meaning ‘muscle’ and fascia meaning ‘covering’, is an incredible fabric-like tissue that wraps and connects the muscles in the body into a web-like matrix.

Within it, lie peripheral nerves and when these become overstimulated through physical trauma, such as exercise or, as some experts believe, stress and even unresolved emotion, the fascia can become restricted resulting in decreased range of movement and ultimately injury.

And interestingly, it could also explain seemingly unconnected injuries.

‘Fascia runs in around ten clear lines throughout the body,’ explains Dawn. ‘For instance there is a fascial line that runs diagonally from the lower trapezius muscle to the gluteal muscle on the opposite side.

‘If you suffer from sacro illiac joint (SIJ) pain when running, a painful lower back or buttock pain, you may also experience pain down the back of the leg and even into the sole of the foot as it tracks down the same fascial line.’

So what can you do about it?

It is a question of preventative work, either strengthening or releasing the fascia, which can become too tight and needs releasing, or in other areas where strengthening the muscles that attach the fascia can give you extra support,’ explains Dawn.

In terms of release, many areas of myofascia such as that around the ITB (the main culprit in runners knee injuries) and plantar fascia are accessible to self treatment.

I religiously use The Grid , as the Trigger Point therapy ball to stay on top of my niggles (I’ve used tennis balls, frozen bottles of water and golf balls for my feet – there IS a difference using the TPT ball).

Other areas are best accessed with the help of an expert.

If you are a runner though, don’t get hung up myofascial release being the cure to your woes but just one part of a jigsaw to keep your body whole.

‘It is not a miracle massage that will help clear up injuries,’ agrees Dawn. ‘But it is another tool in the box of a physiotherapist which can be very useful.’

What to read more? The Fascia Project is great.



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