What is Fascia?
Fascia is a web of fibrous, connective tissue that has many jobs. Some might say the most important job of fascia is to hold the body together. Fascia can be thought of as a body suit that surrounds each layer of the body and pulls everything together towards the core. Without this tissue, muscles would be unstable like jelly, organs would slide out of place, and fluid would pool at the feet.
What Does Fascia Do?
Besides holding the body together, fascia has other jobs that impact how the body moves. Gil Hedley, Ph.D., an anatomy educator, and a fascia researcher who is based in Colorado says fascia is not inert (as was once believed*) but biologically and neurologically active. This means that fascia helps with proprioception, or the body’s ability to perceive where it is at any given moment; so your foot lands where it should when you walk, or you hit the chair when you sit down rather than the ground.
*Experts have always known that muscles contract when you lift an object or go for a run, but they now understand that the fascia actively contracts as well. Well hydrated, supple fascia is just as important as keeping muscles toned.
Pain Related to Fascia.
As an important sensory organ, fascia can relay the feelings of both pain and pleasure to the brain. It is reported that when comparing fascia to its partner, the muscle, fascia has more than 10 times as many sensory receptors. Tom Myers, who is an experienced bodywork therapist and author of Anatomy Trains, says “many properties that we ascribe to muscles actually come from the fascia woven in and around the muscle.” Specifically, Myers addresses how fascia and muscles interact during activty such as, “after we exercise we say we feel ‘sore muscles,’ but what we’re actually feeling is an irritant released from the fascial fabric.” To help prevent this irritant from building up in the fascial fabric, it is important to provide the following to our body:
- Liquids- this tissue needs to be well hydrated to stay healthy. Keeping up on adequate water intake helps keep the fascia slippery instead of sticky.
- Exercise- Regular exercise helps not only to work the muscles and fascia but helps stretch the tissue and allows it to lengthen tissue that has been too short.
- Staying Loose- Using a fascia massage tool keeps the fascia free of restrictions and tension.
Fascia Release in Equine
Like humans, equine can experience facial fatigue. To help alleviate this fatigue, equine experts have started to use myofascial release: a comprehensive, whole body, hands-on approach that restores the necessary slack in the connective tissue web to help eliminate lameness and enhance a horse’s performance. Although myofascial release is just starting to be recognized in the equine world, more massage therapists, body workers, and veterinarians are utilizing the healing qualities of fascia release. As horses receive this therapy, benefits and results are undeniable. Adding this therapy weekly will show immediate results and even more benefits in time.
The HorseWell Massager:
This is a new tool created specifically for the release of myofascial tissue in the equine body. The massager is not only needed but is a critical part of keeping horses healthy. Without regular massage horses experience tension that can hold thousands of pounds of pressure. This simple tool allows you to massage your horse 3-4 times a week creating supple fascia. With well hydrated and supple fascia, horses can feel their best and perform to the best of their ability.
The shape of the HorseWell Massager allows for each muscle group in the equine body to be massaged with one tool. The tapering edge on the massager gives the perfect angle to pull and release the fascia that can otherwise be difficult to work. Using this tool makes it easier on the person performing the massage while giving the most effective massage in just 10-15 minutes a session.
With applying the HorseWell Massager to your equine’s routine, you will gain these benefits:
- With using fascia release 3-4 times a week, horses will have a reversal to chronic pain they have been experiencing. Chronic pain not only interferes with performance but aids in other issues such as ulcers, overcompensating, and mental health.
- This tool also helps release tight tissues that need to be lengthened and increase range of motion. This helps to prevent injuries during the events we ask horses to do every day. Lengthened muscles allow for proper movement and decrease the chance of pulling muscles and causing injury.
- Improper movements due to pain can hinder training techniques. Helping to massage painful areas will help trainers make sessions a good experience for the horse. For example, tension in the fascia of the neck can cause pain resulting in that particular horse not wanting to flex in the direction being asked. This can then lead to other issues of unbalanced movement, overcompensating on one extremity and so on.
- Removal of lactic acid and other bodily toxins that linger in fascia and muscle tissues can be done with the HorseWell Massager.
- Increase your horse’s circulation by massage. While working the fascia and muscles you are also improving and moving the bodies blood through tissues. When working on focused areas, the manipulation on that muscle will also send messages to the body to increase circulation to the affected area as necessary. This can be especially beneficial prior to performing.
- Lastly, strengthen the bond between horse and rider. While massaging your horse, they will feel less pain, enjoy spending time with you and enjoy the bodywork. They will enjoy their riding session, and overall quality of life improves.