The new word on the block at every gym, bootcamp or fitness class is fascia. So your most likely wondering what the %#*% is fascia?
Fascia is fibrous collagenous tissue, which are part of a body wide tensional force system. In simple terminology fascia is a fibrous net of connective tissue, which surrounds every cell in the body and is heavily interconnected with muscular function. If you removed everything out of the body apart from the fascia you would be able to see an outline of the entire body. Fascia is a mammoth matrix that runs from the tips of the toes to the top of the head and is involved in nearly every organ and structure in between.
So why is it important?
Fascia gives the body structure!
It is responsible for:
- Maintaining structural integrity
- Providing support and protection
- Acting as a shock absorber
- Playing a role in hemodynamic and biochemical processes
- Permitting intercellular communication
- Functioning as the body’s first line of defence against infections and pathogenic agents
- Creating an environment for tissue repair post-injury
So why is foam rolling interrelated with fascia?
Foam rolling or distinctively named self-myofascial release is the term for self-massage to release muscle tightness or trigger points. In general, self-myofascial release is intended to address localised tightness in the fascia.
Benefits of self-myofascial release:
- Improves joint range of motion and flexibility
- Reduces muscle soreness and recovery from training
- Reduces arterial stiffness
- Improves performance
What are myofascial trigger points?
Myofascial trigger points are defined as tender spots in discrete taut bands of hardened muscle that produce local and referred pain. This mean that a trigger point is an area that when compressed produces pain. There are many causes of trigger points some of these include:
- Muscle overuse
- Muscle strains
- Prolonged immobility
- Direct trauma
- Hormonal imbalance
- Nutritional imbalance
- Poor posture
So how long does it take for the myofascial release?
It takes approximately 90 seconds for the fascial network to response to slow gentle pressure applied to it and between 3 to 5 minutes for the release of fascia. If the release is too short the trigger point may be activated and if too long, bruising may occur.
How often should foam rolling be incorporated into workouts?
There is no sufficient answer here. This all depends on the body, whether there is acute tightness, persistent muscle tightness etc. A suggested frequency of 2-3 times per week is adequate in most cases.
If you are experiencing muscle tightness persistently please consult with your health care provider.