Fascia Release Unleashes Performance & Health

Fascia has long been overlooked as a secondary tissue. It’s often seen as less important than primary structures like muscle and bone.

But trainers and athletes are beginning to see the benefits of fascia release to improve health and performance.

So what is fascia? What does it mean to release it? And what are the benefits?

In this article, I’ll answer all those questions. So let’s get started!

fascia release

What is Fascia?

Fascia is like a thin, flexible casing that wraps muscles, organs, and blood vessels. It envelops pretty much everything in our bodies. But the fascia surrounding our muscles is what we’ll be talking about.

Fascia Definition

A sheet of elastic tissue that wraps muscles

Healthy fascia is stretchy and supple like a rubber band. But it becomes stiff and constricted from stress, lack of exercise, and poor nutrition.

Unhealthy fascia restricts blood flow. Which makes it harder for muscles to heal and recover from exercise.

In addition, tight fascia compresses muscles. This reduces flexibility and limits your mobility.

But the good news is, various forms of fascia release can rejuvenate your fascia and make it elastic again.

Benefits of Fascia Release

Emerging science suggests a myriad of benefits resulting from fascia release1. Here are a few examples:

1. Increase Mobility

Flexibility and range of motion are important for a healthy and athletic body. And it turns out, some simple fascia release techniques can improve your mobility.

One such technique, static stretching, resulted in a 6% increase in mobility. And when stretching was combined with foam rolling, mobility increased by 9%2. Although foam rolling on its own was not effective.

 

fascia release for mobility

Adapted from Škarabot et. al.

2. Decrease Pain

As we get older, many of us experience pain in our muscles and joints. Often, this is associated with tight and restricted fascia. As a result, treating fascia can reduce this type of pain.

To illustrate, one study of 80 nurses with chronic low back pain showed a 53.3% reduction in pain after fascia release treatments3.

3. Enhance Recovery

A review of multiple studies concludes that fascia release reduces muscle soreness after workouts4.

Therefore it can be used as a tool to shorten recovery time. As well as alleviating some of the discomfort that follows rigorous workouts.

4. Boost Performance

As an engineer, I learned to look at material properties in terms of the stress/strain relationship. That is, how much a material stretches under load.

And fascia is just another type of material! So when it doesn’t elongate or stretch, that decreases performance. Like an old rubber band that breaks when you pull it.

On the other hand, when your fascia is limber and pliable, it stretches when it needs to. And that increases your physical performance.

fascia release explained

The shaded area under the curve represents performance. The larger the area, the higher the performance.

Released fascia increases blood flow, which can have a direct impact on performance. But it’s important to realize that fascia doesn’t always improve performance directly.

Rather, performance is the effect of the other benefits of fascia release. Such as increased flexibility which helps you to perform exercises in the full range of motion and use more muscle fibers.

In addition, having less pain and muscle soreness allows you to train harder and more frequently. And that translates to a boost in performance and better results from your workouts.

So far, I’ve briefly mentioned static stretching and foam rolling. But there are multiple other fascia release techniques.

Fascia Release Techniques

There are several modalities used for fascia release. Some of the most common include:

Fascia Release Techniques

  • Foam rolling
  • Static stretching
  • Deep tissue massage
  • Active release therapy (ART)
  • Cupping/scraping
  • IR sauna or epsom salt baths

Most of these techniques require access to trained professionals or medical instruments. Meaning they may not be practical for everyone.

For example, cupping involves a technician using special suction cups. While scraping (Graston technique) requires a unique tool.

Below is an example of the instruments used as well as my bruising afterward. The treatment itself is a little uncomfortable, like a deep tissue massage. But I promise it’s not as bad as it looks!

After several visits to the clinician, I was able to alleviate pain and correct imbalances caused by years of heavy training. The results were worth it, but it’s not the most convenient method.

On the other hand, foam rolling and static stretching are easily performed at home or in the gym without assistance. They’re also called self myofascial release (SMR) techniques.

You may be familiar with foam rolling already. But stretching for the purpose of fascia release is not your normal warm-up stretch.

For one, you should do it during or after your workout. And it requires a controlled force to stretch the fascia beyond its normal limits.

So let’s take a more detailed look at fascia stretching.

Fascia Stretching

Fascia stretching works by lengthening the tissue under tension. Allowing excess layers to tear and break off. Thereby making the fascia thinner and more resilient.

Fascia stretch training is applied during a weightlifting workout. In this variation, you perform vigorous stretches between sets. Using sturdy objects or the weights themselves to provide tension.

In some cases, it’s beneficial to have a partner assist with these stretches. Also, make sure you stretch the muscle for 10-20 seconds before releasing it.

While it may seem like this will make your workouts longer, it only fills the rest periods. And the active nature of the stretches increases workout intensity – resulting in more progress.

‘High-Performance Bodybuilding’ by John Parrillo has a lot of good info on fascia stretching. Including pictures and descriptions of how to stretch each muscle group. The book looks retro, but the information is still very relevant.

Recommended Reading: High-Performance Bodybuilding (P 133-153)

The physical release of fascia is critical to recovery. But it’s also important to give your body the nutrients it needs to maintain fascia health.

Feed Your Fascia

Proteins called collagen, elastin, and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are what make up fascia tissue. Your body produces these substances in small amounts. But the amount decreases with age and stress.

You can increase your body’s supply of these proteins through a healthy diet. But many people don’t get enough of the key nutrients needed for facia health.

Key Nutrients for Fascia Health

  • Vitamin C
  • B-vitamins (biotin and folate)
  • Coenzyme Q10 (coQ10)
  • Magnesium
  • Glutamine
  • Creatine

Most of these nutrients are in foods like leafy greens, grains, meats, and healthy fats. But, for active people, it’s beneficial to bolster your diet with natural supplements.

Recommended Reading: The Fascia Fix Food Plan

the fascia fix food plan

Each of the key nutrients is described in more detail below. And you can click the links to purchase on Amazon.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant. Many people know it boosts the immune system but it also has benefits related to fascia health.

Such as regulating the formation of collagen, one of the main components of the fascia. Moreover, collagen acts as a natural lubricant to help tissues move more freely during activities such as resistance training.

Biotin & Folate

Biotin & folate are members of the B-complex vitamins. Healthy hair, skin, nails, and collagen come from Biotin. While folate regenerates cells and creates new proteins.

When buying a supplement look for methylfolate on the label. A whole food multivitamin is a good source of both biotin and folate.

Coenzyme Q10

CoQ10 is another antioxidant. And it also assists in energy production and collagen regeneration.

Although, levels of CoQ10 drop with age. So supplementation may help counteract the effects of aging such as fascia constriction.

Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral that relaxes muscles and nerves. For that reason, it’s commonly taken before bed for more restful sleep.

In addition, magnesium keeps fascia loose. Look for the form called magnesium glycinate. Because magnesium oxide doesn’t get absorbed.

Glutamine

Glutamine is an amino acid that’s important for your gut and immune health. As well as increasing protein synthesis which is necessary for building muscles and collagen.

However, glutamine gets depleted with high stress. So it’s beneficial to supplement, especially when training hard.

Creatine

Creatine protects from age-related mutations of DNA which lead to the degeneration of skin and other tissues. But supplementation can help slow that effect.

In addition, creatine increases muscle gain. There are some not-so-great creatine supplements on the market. So be sure to do your homework before spending any money.

7 Things You Should Know Before Taking Creatine

Conclusion

Now you should be well aware of the importance of fascia. And I hope you’re excited to apply some of the fascia release techniques to your own exercise program.

If you’re interested in getting a personalized diet and workout routine, click the link below to learn more about Nutritioneering’s plans.

Learn More About Custom Nutrition & Workout Plans

Also, make sure to check out more of my related articles below.

Related Articles:

How To Get Rid Of Water Retention

Tired of being puffy and bloated? Learn how to get rid of water retention with 8 proven safe methods. Drop up to 5 lbs of water weight overnight.

How To Boost Your Immune System

Your immune system is a complex network. So it’s best to treat your body as a whole. Try these 5 proven ways to boost your immunity.

Share with your community and get the conversation started!

Go to Top