Fascia is a general term we use to describe connective tissue. It’s the shiny Saran Wrap stuff that divides a steak into smaller compartments, and it wraps around everything throughout our entire body in one continuous structure: every organ, muscle, nerve, bone, artery, you get the point. The fascia has both structural and chemical functions and is largely responsible for our freedom of movement by allowing all of these structures to glide fluidly over one another.
When people talk about their knots, what they are speaking of is mal-aligned tissue due to trauma, inflammation, injury, poor motor patterns and emotional distress. Myofascial (Myo=muscle, Fascia=sheath of encasing fibrous tissue) release helps create chemical and mechanical changes that improve movement patterns.
When it comes to addressing fascial dysfunction it is important to assess why it became that way and manage all of the areas that are affecting the region causing you pain and/or mobility issues. Massage, foam rollers, therapy balls and active release therapy are some of the methods used by athletes to treat these issues.
If you are looking to do your own therapies I would recommend a foam roller or therapy balls. There are two basic techniques I recommend, both I use with clients.
Let’s use the quadriceps as our target region.
The first option is to apply pressure directly to the area of discomfort, slowing moving a foam roller or therapy balls in the direction of the movement pattern. It’s important to apply pressure but not too much so that it bypasses the region you are trying to relieve or activates other areas. When you feel the burning don’t stop, that is your body releasing chemicals to help improve motion. An example of this is moving your quadriceps over a foam roller while lying on your belly.
Another option is to apply pressure to the affected area while the muscle is shortened and then moving the joint to extend the muscles. An example of this is lying on your belly with therapy balls under your quads. You begin the motion with a straight leg then slowly bend it so the foot moves towards the ceiling.
Whichever option you choose you will want to do multiple passes and routinely. The body is a very adaptive machine but requires our persistence in reshaping its movements.