Fascia is a thin casing of connective tissue that surrounds and holds every organ, blood vessel, bone, nerve fibre and muscle in place in your body. Myofascia naturally includes the fascia that is cloaking and connecting all muscle fibres together, it wraps around every cell, cell bundle, and a group of cell bundles. The tissue does more than provide internal structure; fascia has nerves that make it almost as sensitive as skin. When stressed, it tightens up.
Myofascia = Myo (muscle fibre) + Fascia (the fascial wrappings holding the muscle fibres together to form a muscle.) In other words, myofascial is not “different” than fascia. It is a subset of fascia. Myofascia is a term to distinguish the fascia that is a part of every muscle of your body. Fascia can exist without being a part of a muscle…but a muscle cannot and does not exist without its “myofascial.”
When exploring your body's tissue with self-massage tools, do so with curiosity, awareness, patience and gentleness. You might also ask, is there a wrong way and a right way? Well, the short answer – Yes! Your goal with Self-massage Myofascial Release (SMFR) is to relax and soothe your tissues, to encourage them to return to a relaxed tone – soft and supple, yet ready for action. It doesn’t have to hurt to work!
You don’t have to use extreme pressure to soften the tissue to get it to lengthen, soften, or loosen. In fact, using too much pressure can lead to the opposite effect and the tissue can brace in response to threat, via the muscle spindle response. A side effect of this is that your fascia can think your muscles have been injured and will rally to protect the tissue under attack.
When we push too much, they push back. So when you’re roll'N yourself out, your fascial tissue will likely swell and inflame full of defensive cytokines and make you feel even more swollen & stuck than before. Our breath is our measurement to let us know how much our bodies can handle. If you find yourself gasping for breath, or let out a yell, or stop breathing you've done too much. It's important to maintain a smooth calm breath while you do myofascial release.
When you engage in your rolling practice, take a moment to think about these glorious connective tissues within you, and let them inform your motion.