Physical Therapist Explains The Body Part That Causes Most Pain (And How To Fix It)

Physical Therapist Explains The Body Part That Causes Most Pain (And How To Fix It)

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Fascia: a band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs. – Marieb, E. & Hoehn, K. (2007). Human anatomy & physiology–speaking on bodily pain.

When most of us have aches and pains, we usually associate them with muscles, bones and other “easiest” areas of the body – and, in some cases, this is true. So, let’s look at an example. Imagine that we stand up and feel pain slight pain in our knee. Of course, we nstinctively know it’s probably an aching muscle or ligament.

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However, not all pain is this caused by movement or is sudden in its onset. Pain, in literally every area of the body, can be triggered by seemingly nothing at all. Pains of this variety leave us scratching our collective heads. “Is a trip to the doctor in order?” we begin to wonder.

Sometimes, the doctors won’t know. Well, maybe one…

The Single Body Part That Causes Most Pain (And How To Fix It)

Dr. Mary Ann Wilmarth, a world-renown physical therapist and former head of physical therapy (PT) at Harvard University Health Services, believes many aches and pains are due to fascia (“fash-ya”) complications.

Fash-what?

Yeah, we asked that question too. If you’re not a doctor of Orthopedic Medicine (D.O.) or a licensed massage therapist, chances are you’ve never heard of the fascia.

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Despite our lack of knowledge, fascia is everywhere in the body.

Comprised of highly-concentrated protein fibers, fascia tissue is intricately connected; interwoven and meshed into our bones, muscles, and organs.

According to Dr. Wilmarth, medical professionals and other experts in human physiology have been fascinated with this “mystery tissue” for many years, even decades. However, it wasn’t until around 2007 – at an “international fascia research conference” at Harvard – that these professionals understood the importance of fascia. [Since then, numerous fascia conferences and other related events have are held at multiple venues, including Harvard Medical School.]

Fascia and pain

As mentioned, fascia is an intricate network of connective tissue. To comprehend how this network of fasciae impacts important physiological functions, we must understand its makeup, including a basic understanding of sensory neurons.

Sensory neurons are defined by WebMD as “a nerve cell…(that sends) information from your brain to the rest of your body…from your senses (for example, touch or hearing) to your brain.

This includes, of course, pain receptors (i.e. nociceptors.)

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Now consider that we have up to six times as many sensory neurons in our fasciae than in any other tissue of the body. This inordinately complex system allows communication between the brain and other areas of the body, including muscles.

The urge to stand up and stretch is a byproduct of fascia communication. The simple act of arching your back to relieve the mildest amount of tension is the result of fascia communication. You get the point.

Fascia health is critical to our limberness and range of movement. When they’re out of balance, neural signals are suppressed, or the brain interprets this malfunction as pain.

Here’s what you can do…

We’ll discuss a few fascia-related aches and pains you may experience, along with how to fix them.

Post-wake muscle stiffness/cramping

Upon waking up, it’s common for the muscles to feel a bit cramped and stiff. To relieve this feeling, (1) slowly stretch out both arms and legs and (2) rotate (“roll”) your body from side to side, (3) sit on the edge of the bed, and flex out and point your feet.

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