“Fascia links muscle, bone, nerves, mood, emotions, behaviour” – Pischinger.
Last month I attended a two-day course on canine myofascial release with the fabulous Jo Rose of Rose Therapy. My dog Bailey came along to be a demo dog and a very willing one he was too and he certainly earned his home comforts which he enjoyed at the end of each day!
The word fascia is from the Latin for “band” or “bandage”.
Fascia is something that until fairly recently was often ignored by many in their eagerness to get to the muscles and bones but fascia is becoming an increasingly studied tissue and we are learning more and more about it all the time.
Fascia is a connective tissue that can be visualised as a 3D net that surrounds and permeates every part of the body – muscles, organs, bones, blood vessels, nerves – extending from just beneath the skin to deep inside the body. It is named depending on its location/function.
Check out this short video (or there is a longer version if you wish) Strolling Under the Skin.
Fascia connects, separates, supports, absorbs shock and is one of the major communication tools of the body. Because of its connective properties, fascia can affect parts of the body a long way from the original site of injury.
Fascia can also be used by the dog to hold them in a stand, this is genius as it saves using muscle which requires a lot of energy but if the fascia is unhealthy, it won’t be able to do this and the dog may well have to use muscles designed for movement to hold the position instead, the misuse of the muscles will use energy unnecessarily and cause strain to muscles that are not designed to do this job.
If fascia is unhealthy or injured then the muscles and other tissues beneath it will be also - on short coated dogs you might see a ‘wrinkling’ of their coat.
Unhealthy or injured fascia causes pain, mobility issues and even behavioural issues. It can also be the cause of itchiness.
Fascia can be damaged through age, overuse (think repetitive movements), lack of use, chronic stress, surgery, injury, poor posture, burns, inflammation and due to its shock absorbing role it can become injured without direct injury to it.
Fascia also has memory and can hold on to pain and restrictions long after the injury is gone, for example if the body compensates for injury by adopting a different gait, this gait may remain due to fascial memory.
I use direct and indirect massage techniques to release fascia and in doing so can help improve your dogs mobility, comfort, mood and behaviour. Releasing fascia has that same wonderful feeling that you get when you take off a piece of too tight clothing and you give a big sigh of relief as you can breathe and move again!