One of the coolest things I’ve learned in my first two weeks of massage school, besides that I actually know something from my years of experiencing bodywork and that my hands love connecting with people, is about fascia.
If you don’t know, fascia is the name for a type of connective tissue, a thin membrane. It is labeled superficial when it is right under the skin and deep when it surrounds, binds, and separates muscle. It’s really all the same — these terms just differentiate the location.
The semi-transparent membrane on an uncooked chicken breast is fascia.
Here’s a new word: thixotropism, from the Greek for touch and turning. It refers to the fascia’s ability to change from one state to another. Fascia has two states: a thin fluid (sol) and a thicker gel. In its thin state, it is fluid, pliant, and elastic, offering a wider range of movement. In its gel state, it is tougher, more inflexible, and restricts movement.
When the body is out of alignment, such as when the head is jutting forward, the fascia supporting those straining neck muscles become more gel-like, stiffer, and supportive.
When you feel stiff, it’s because the fascia is in its gel state.
Through touch, exercise, and/or stretching, fascia “melts” from gel to sol and becomes looser, more flexible, and elastic. This allows the muscles to be manipulated in massage, increases joint range of motion, and frees the body from restrictions in movement.
When you move fluidly and freely in your body, your fascia are in the sol state. And of course, that feels fantastic.
This is at least one piece of the physiology of why it feels so good to get a massage, do yoga, warm up your muscles through work or exercise, and do the movements of TRE and shaking medicine.
They literally transform stiffness into fluidity.
Conversely, this is why it feels bad to sit for prolonged periods, and why we need to stretch after the stillness of sleeping.
If you want to feel free in your body, move, shake — and get massages.