Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Fascia, Our Body’s Infrastructure

As a yoga teacher, I get asked many questions about pain. A common one is:

Why does an injury in one part of my body present pain in an entirely different part?

Logic would dictate that the area where you feel pain is the site of the injury or issue, but that doesn't always occur. 

If you’ve never experienced sensation that originates far from where it presents, then try this: open your mouth and place your right hand on your lower jaw bone; slide your jaw into your hand, but resist against it with your hand… and notice where you feel the sensation. Yes, there’s some feeling around the connection of your hand and jaw, but mostly you’ll feel this along the left side – the side where your hand isn’t. Why is that?

To answer that, think of Spider-Man’s costume, a tight second skin with a web design all over it. When he moves, the lines of the webs shift and move with him. Now, picture that web design under your skin, not on top of it. Each line of the webs are connected to each other, so when one spot tightens, tangles or is knotted (as in scar tissue), the rest of the web is affected - and the web is extremely sensitive. 

That web is called fascia, which is a type of connective tissue. These tissues range from light, easily affected “fuzz” to ropey, dense fibers. The following video shows some of the fascia in the forearm.

As the video shows, this web of fascia provides a container for nerves, blood and lymph vessels. When the fascial web contracts, we experience constriction on the nerves, in the blood vessels and the lymphatic system. Too much of this contraction may affect our systems in the following way:

  • pain response and coordination
  • circulation
  • immune system
How do we loosen, untangle or release the adhesions in the fascial body? Massage is one method. Passive resistance through gentle yoga poses can also help, as well as tools that reduce overall stress, such as mindfulness and breathing exercises.

The next time you feel a pain response, ask yourself,

Where does this really come from?

You may be surprised by the answer, or you may not if your "Spidey-sense" is alert!


  • Hear Lorien's interview on the Transformational Power of Yoga Telesummit.
  • Next Kaiser Restorative Yoga for Cancer Survivorship 6-week series begins June 12 (ends July 24, no class July 3). Call 408-366-4284 to register.
  • Tuesday, June 4th: Lorien will be offering gentle yoga demonstrations as part of Stanford's Cancer Survivor Celebration week. See Events page for info.
  • Sunday, June 23rd: Lorien will be offering restorative yoga demonstrations as part of Kaiser's Seeds of Hope Cancer Survivor Day. See Events page for info.
  • Stay tuned: Lorien's Healing Yoga for Wellness DVD will be out in June...