The Secret That Holds Us Up ~ How to support the stuff that supports us.
By: Clinical Herbalist Cameron Strouss, Dr. Thomas Slaughter, III, and Deb Cleveland
Fascia is connective tissue made primarily from collagen (the most abundant protein in the body) and serves to attach, stabilize, enclose and separate muscles and many organs. Fascia is known to be pain sensitive when irritated, inflamed or injured. Healthy, flexible fascia is essential for proper support, function and alignment of body structures. Listed below are the critical functions of healthy facia:
- It acts like an anatomical "girdle" to bind and hold muscles together in a compact manner.
- It maintains the proper position of the individual muscle fibers, blood vessels, and nerves within the muscles, and prevents them from moving all over the place during movement or muscle contraction.
- It helps prevent injury by evenly distributing forces and loads for uniform transmission of these forces and loads over the whole muscle.
- It creates a uniformly smooth/ slick surface that essentially lubricates the various tissues that come in contact with each other during movement. This helps prevent friction injuries and subsequent tissue degeneration and degradation.
- It allows muscles to change shape as they both stretch and contract.
How to Support Our Facia:
Nutrition for maintaining and healing fascia would include vitamin C (with bioflavinoids), calcium, magnesium, B6, B12, B2, copper and manganese provide the building blocks to make and repair fascia. When repairing injured fascia; zinc, proteolytic enzymes (papain and/or bromelain, typsin and chymotrypsin) and increased dietary protein and/or amino acids will facilitate the process and reduce inflammation. Bone broth or collegian would both be great dietary ways to increase amino acid dietary consumption.
Some herbals that support facia are Soloman's Seal which tightens loose and lessons tight tendons and connective tissue. I use Soloman's Seal Salve for all types of facial injuries with much success. Gotu Kola is a great nutritive herb to the connective tissues. I combine Soloman's Seal and Gotu Kola in what I call my Connective Tissue Tonic that I use in conjunction with topicals when an injury is present. Crossvine, which is a traditional southern remedy, is being explored as a remedy for connective tissue issues but more information is needed to ground the idea. Goldenseal has been traditionally used topically and internally for bulging disks. In order to create the most effective herbal care plan for you and your connective tissue health consult with a qualified herbal practitioner.
3. Body Work:
Body work for facia is critical. You can do some work at home with a foam roller especially designed to break up stuck facia or a tennis ball for knots or stubborn clumps of tissue that need to be worked through. Regular massage therapy and Chiropractic care are important for general assignment. One of the best thing you can do for chronic structural alignment issues is Rolfing or Structural Alignment/Integration, which can address chronic structural issues by breaking up the facia that prevent you from standing, sitting, and moving effectively and with proper body kinetics. Check out our referrals page for competent body workers in the Birmingham area.
These protocols should also be effective for other collagen rich tissues: ligament, tendons, discs, cartilage, etc. and for injuries such as strains, sprains, tears, carpal tunnel, bulging disks, etc.