Updated: Feb 25, 2019
If you don't use it, you will lose it. First reflex we have when we are going through pain is to rest, passive rest, no movement, very little activity to not trigger that pain again, to be fair our nervous system is already taking care of this and tensing up everything, this muscle guarding is to not create that pain, but is this limited motion beneficial in the end?
Before we carry on this subject "motion is lotion", let's talk about Fascia, you may or may not have heard about fascia before but this subject is buzzing at the moment, the "discovery of the new organ" even though some people were talking about since the 70's and even before but not were not taking seriously.
So, Fascia is a soft tissue, a network of connective tissue which give, flexibility, structure and shape to our muscles, tendons ligaments, it is around our brain and digestive organs, everywhere..
A soft tissue made of collagen, which connect our whole body together from our feet up to our head, from one hand to the opposite one, it's all interconnected. For example, if you are lying down in bed, covered by a bed sheet, if someone gently pull the bed sheet from your feet, the part of the sheet which was covering your neck will move away from you too, so amazingly head movement have shown through ultrasound that it was impacting the fascia on the calf.
When we are kids, we play, run , jump, crawl, climb, kids have a wide range of capabilities and movements and their fascia is so flexible and mobile they don't experience stiffness, worst case scenario with children is a broken bone because they challenge themselves too much.
As we grow up and become adults, for the vast majority of us we do less and less of all this.
Despite keeping a physical activity, it might not be as similar as when we were kids.
From the age of 25, physiologically the age process is starting and the Fascia become thicker, stiffer, we produce less collagen and as we are less active in so many different way indeed, we don't jump as much or climb or crawl to challenge and strengthen the fascia. We start to experience pain and discomfort, fascia become dysfunctional and we may experience pain because of myofascial trigger point or myofascial pain syndrome.
This is why you may encounter some therapist trained in myofascial release and trigger point therapy like myself to help rehydrate this fascia, to make this fascia more mobile, to create separation between the layer of fascia for this latter to move and recover function and neutralise those myofascial trigger point.
This is way stretching, yoga or a variety of movement is important to keep every moving and research has shown that stretching improve range of movement and reducing stiffness. "Motion is lotion".
Some research have been done on the big and thick fascia we have on the low back " thoracolumbar fascia" ,MRI have been done on a group of people: some of them had horrible MRI but no symptoms , no back pain and some other has a perfect MRI but were experiencing unspecified back pain so unfortunately not every pain can be clarified through MRI, but they have noticed a decrease of capability of gliding and movement of the layers of the thoracolumbar fascia, which can be improved through stretches, myofascial release, bodywork, and acupuncture, improving the movement and gliding of those layers have a direct impact on reducing the pain for those with unspecified back pain
Ref: the mysterious world under the skin, I highly recommend this documentary to anyone who is looking for a better understand on fascia.
In this documentary is as well discussed how we can heal our own fascia dysfunction through exercise, as it helps to produce new collagen cells to create more movement on this fascia, those cells will send chemical signal that will allow other muscle to relax and reduce the pressure from the fascia applied on muscle. Indeed if you imagine a sausage, the latter is wrapped by a thin translucide tissue which represent the fascia and the meat inside represent the muscle, if this thin tissue is squeezing the meat obviously it will add some additional stress on the meat, same thing for the muscle.
So even though you experience pain, injury or chronic issue, you might be able to do some movement or physical activity which won't directly cause pain but still indirectly help the fascia in your low back for example. This is why some therapist like myself, when a client comes in for back pain treatment, not only the low back will be looked at and worked on ...Remember the fascia is interconnected and working or stretching an area away from the site of pain is very beneficial as it helps the whole soft tissue to relax.
Other research have shown that emotional stress can impact the fascia, indeed there is no secret that being in stressful situation impact our production of stress hormones which increase pain perception. Well in this case, emotional stress has a direct impact on fascia, so working on your body on a physical level is good, working on yourself on an emotional level is even better.
Conclusion for today is keep moving, challenge yourself in a gentle way, always in a way that doesn't cause additional further pain, try something different, something new, get help with a physio, sport massage therapist ... but don't stay in a passive rest mode.
Motion is lotion is applicable for fascia, for muscles, joint and nerve, we are made for movement so keep moving!
Ref Documentary on Youtube: the mysterious world under the skin.