Fascia is a specialized connective tissue layer surrounding muscles, bones and joints and gives support and protection to the body.. Fascia is one of the 3 types of dense connective tissue (the others being ligaments and tendons) and it extends without interruption from the top of the head to the tip of the toes
Fascia is usually seen as having a passive role in the body, transmitting mechanical tension, which is generated by muscle activity or external forces. Recently, however some evidence suggests that fascia may be able to actively contract in a smooth muscle-like manner and consequently influence musculoskeletal dynamics
Obviously, if this is verified by future research, any changes in the tone or structure of the fascia could have significant implications for athletic movements and performance. This research notwithstanding, the occurrence of trigger points within dense connective tissue sheets is thought to be correlated with subsequent injury.
Trigger points have been defined as areas of muscle that are painful to palpation and are characterized by the presence of taut bands. Tissue can become thick, tough and knotted. They can occur in muscle, the muscle-tendon junctions, bursa, or fat pad. Sometimes, trigger points can be accompanied by inflammation and if they remain long enough, what was once healthy fascia is replaced with inelastic scar tissue.
It has been speculated that trigger points may lead to a variety of sports injuries – from camps to more serious muscle and tendon tears. The theory, which seems plausible, is that trigger points compromise the tissue structure in which they are located, placing a greater strain on other tissues that must compensate for its weakness. These in turn can break down and so the spiral continues.
According to many therapists, trigger points in the fascia can restrict or alter the motion about a joint resulting in a change of normal neural feedback to the central nervous system. Eventually, the neuromuscular system becomes less efficient, leading to premature fatigue, chronic pain and injury and less efficient motor skill performance.
What causes a trigger point to form?
The list of proposed causes includes acute physical trauma, poor posture or movement mechanics, over training, inadequate rest between training sessions and possibly even nutritional factors
Self-myofascial release is a relatively simple technique that people can use to alleviate trigger points. Studies have shown myofascial release to be an effective treatment modality for myofascial pain syndrome
Benefits of self-myofascial release
Improved Range of Motion – release classes work to restore proper range of motion by repairing the weak and tight fascia causing the trigger point.
Improved Oxygenation of Surrounding Muscles and Tissues – More blood flow to the adjacent areas means quicker recovery time and more efficient neuromuscular function.
Reduced Pain and Tightness – Going through your day, you might notice tight points in your legs, buttocks, and areas of your back and neck. Performing self myofascial release on these points can help to reduce pain and tightness.