Fascial mobilization may sound like it has something to do with movement of the face, but it’s actually something quite different. Fascia refers to connective tissue, the network of collagen fibers that surround organs, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. The fascial system provides support and delivers nutrition to these structures, as well as serving as a bridge to the skeleton. This system also helps to absorb shock and resist physical injury.
The fascial system is viewed as being three-dimensional. That is, it exists as one, long continuous network of connective tissue. While it is constructed of dense collagen fibers to lend strength, it is also made up of elastin fibers that stretch to help prevent injury. Proponents of fascial mobilization believe that the entire fascial system may influence immunity and the body’s natural ability to purge itself of toxins.
It is also thought that impaired functioning of the fascia may result in a variety of symptoms, such as pain and inflammation. Fascial impairment may be caused by a variety of things. For instance, physical trauma, scar tissue produced from surgical procedures, or prolonged misalignment of the posture may cause constriction in the fascial system.
Fascial mobilization is a type of hands-on bodywork that attempts to correct imbalances within the fascial system to restore proper functioning. Specifically, it is a technique that aims to relieve stress by applying pressure to targeted areas within the fascial system. The objective of fascial mobilization is to get the tissue moving in the right direction again in order to improve mobility.
As a therapeutic method, fascial mobilization is employed to bring relief from autoimmune disorders, such as fibromyalgia. It is also used to treat scoliosis, chronic headaches, back pain, and even cervical pain. Of course, those who have sustained sports injuries may benefit from fascial mobilization as well.
Prior to exercising fascial mobilization, the practitioner will typically assess the integrity of the musculoskeletal system. This is achieved through visual observation of the posture, followed by a physical examination with the hands to look for restriction and stress in the fascia. The therapist will then encourage fascial mobilization to areas where stress is detected by the application of gentle pressure. The goal is to unbind and lengthen soft tissue to help improve joint mobility, circulation and even neural transmission.
Fascial mobilization techniques may require adaptation in certain cases. For example, modified therapy may be necessary if the patient has severe inflammation, tends to bruise easily, or is pregnant. In addition, certain individuals should not receive fascial mobilization therapy, such as those with cancer or systemic infection.