The chiropractic approach is based on the subluxation, a dysfunction of the tissues surrounding the involved joint that can have repercussions in other areas of the body. It has been proven that chiropractic manipulation can restore the affected joint to a healthy function and thus reduce the dysfunctions it can cause. The joint is mainly vertebral but can also be any other in the body.
But we need to keep in mind that the spine is a passive structure moved and supported by muscles, and research has demonstrated that muscle coordination and function depends on fascia.
Often the spinal dysfunction and the patient’s symptoms are more related to fascia than muscles, joints or nervous system.
But what is fascia?
Think of that white part on the side of your steak that we tend to discard because it’s too chewy. Or, if you’re vegan/vegetarian, think of the skin of an orange wedge, that if you peel off lets you find the juicy flesh of the orange. That’s what fascia looks like.
It’s a strong, fibrous connective tissue that surrounds the whole muscle, the group of muscles, and the whole limb in different layers. It is found throughout the whole body and has no interruption, creating a complex network that connects the whole body together. It also forms the sheath for your nerves, blood vessels, and your organs.
In short, fascia literally is everywhere.
Why haven’t you ever heard of it? Well, because science has virtually ignored fascia until recently: anatomists have always thought of fascia as a useless filler to be removed to study and reveal the muscles and other structures of the body.
Wait a minute: useless filler? How would our body create such a strong, fibrous structure throughout the whole system and have no use for it?
The truth is, our coordination, muscle function and posture all depend on a correct fascial function. A fascial dysfunction can induce a muscle spasm or weakness, a pelvic imbalance, a spinal subluxation.
How does a fascial dysfunction happen?
A fascial dysfunction is better described as a restriction in its mobility. More specifically, its capacity to freely glide layer over layer and to let the structures it sheaths glide freely one over the other.
When you have an injury that is severe enough (a bump does not count – an ankle sprain that swells and bruises most likely will do it) the fluid that lubricates the gliding of the fascia can dehydrate and become sticky and dense. This will literally glue together two or more fascial layers in the area surrounding the injury. Your body finds it very difficult to restore these restrictions to their normal state, and they can last for decades.
The resulting alteration of movement will induce a compensation that will strain other parts of the body. A repetitive strain can also create a fascial restriction, and in time it will do so.
Over months and years a snowballing of these compensation patterns and new restrictions will lead to pain away from the original area of injury. It’s quite common to have a low back pain or even a shoulder pain stemming from and old ankle injury or knee surgery. Very often these “original” injury areas are pain free or just “never been the same since”, they “just niggle but it’s not a real problem”, and are not seen as a major complaint for the patient.
Most techniques concentrate on symptoms and areas of pain that are often the result of a compensation pattern from previous injuries, surgeries or repetitive strains.
The fascial approach
The fascial practitioner, and specifically a Certified Fascial Manipulation Specialist, will be gathering an accurate and thorough history from the patient to find if there are likely previous injuries or factors that could be at the origin of the main complaint.
The most important stage is the palpation of the painful area and of the regions were the older injuries happened. Very often there is a direct relationship, found along “fascial lines” that are very much the same as acupuncture meridians in location. These are the lines along which the fascia distributes force and exerts its function, but also where the fascial restrictions will form.
If a relationship is found, very often the release of the restriction in the old injury area will start relieving the main complaint. Releasing the painful area as well is also fundamental, restoring the full function and gliding of the fascial system.
When the fascial function is returned to its optimum, the chiropractic approach on the joint subluxation will be more effective and its results longer lasting.
Wait a minute, they said I can stretch the fascia!
Fascia is not elastic. It’s very strong, one of its main roles is to carry force and transmit it from one part of the body to the other. Being not elastic, it needs to glide and shift to guide, support and allow our movements. We all know that person that has hamstrings that never let go, no matter how much they stretch. It’s not the hamstring muscles, it’s their fascia that is not letting the muscle lengthen. If you stretch long enough, the fascia will slowly, over weeks, lengthen and allow for more flexibility, like when you have been doing yoga for years. But a fascial restriction won’t release with stretching, and the dysfunction will remain even if you are as flexible as a ballerina!
The fascial system is the missing link in chiropractic
Don’t wait anymore for that long standing pain to go away by itself. If it does, your body compensated for it and you will experience it again or it will cause a new complaint down the line.
If you would like to try Fascial Manipulation for yourself, we’re very fortunate to have Flavio available for appointments at our Maidenhead Clinic. Flavio is one of only four Certified Fascial Manipulation Specialists in the UK and his treatment style is highly regarded by his patients. They’re already experiencing the magic of fascial manipulation, and you can too by booking online with Flavio today. To book with Flavio, you will find his appointment availability by selecting the “Initial Chiropractic Consultation” option when booking.
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