I've just done another course on integrated myofascial release. The course was entitled "myfoascial release for the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)". This is basically the joint that allows your jaw to open and close.
When doing this type of bodywork, you don't just work on the joint in question. In myofascial work, you look at the body as being interconnected, a restriction in one area will affect another area, so you work on the supporting structures. Structures that affect the jaw include the neck and the shoulders as well as muscles in the face.
Release work was done on the neck and shoulders. Then work was done on the muscles that control the jaw in particular the pterygoids. (Sounds like a type of dinosaur!) This is where you have to open your mouth! This is also where you make the amazing discovery that the body holds secret tensions of its own. These tensions are only revealed when you put specific pressure on the muscles. Wow! Who would believe that small muscles in the face can be so tender!
Fantastic feeling once the work was done!
So what happened for me? I discovered that working on the jaw changed how I felt when walking. My body moved more easily! A wonderfully feeling of free movement. Who would have thought that working on the jaw would release the hips and legs!
For a massage therapist, what are the main tissues of the body?
Well, I thought I knew: bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. As a bodyworker, we were taught that massage worked on and affected the muscles and their associated tendons. Muscles mattered. Now the buzz word is fascia.
So what is fascia? It is the body's connective tissue that covers and connects everything in the body. What does it look like? It is easiest to see as the delicate but strong white tissue that covers a leg of lamb.
Why is fascia creating a buzz? It has some amazing and important properties: fascia connects all parts of the body- it is your "body stocking". When you move one part of your body, there is a subtle pull/stretch in another part of the body. This also means that when there is a restriction in one part of the body, there are effects throughout the body.
Fascia is affected by habitually poor posture, trauma, and inflammation. Fascia reacts to these conditions by shortening and becoming more rigid. The body loses its flexibility. Movements become restricted and painful. Restricted fascia can exert a tensile strength of over 2000lbs so it can have quite an effect on the body.
What does this mean for you?