Defining Fascia and how Massage Therapy can help with Fascial Tension

Defining Fascia and How Massage Therapy can help with Fascial Tension

By: Sarah Tyler 

When it comes to massage therapy, there are several different structures in the human body that are involved, which can be treated both directly and indirectly. A big one that can affect our body function and mobility is fascia. Fascia is considered a connective tissue of the body - enveloping and connecting many different structures of the musculoskeletal system. It is made up of collagen and elastin fibers, giving some structural support and some malleability. There are two distinct types of fasciae to consider: Superficial Fascia and Deep Fascia.  

Superficial fascia is just underneath the skin and helps the skin glide over the structures below.  It helps with thermoregulation (maintaining our internal body temperature) and supports nerves and blood vessels that move through our body. If you have ever prepared chicken with the skin on, you will have seen a membranous layer under the skin – that is the chicken’s superficial fascia!  

Deep fascia surrounds the muscles of the body and is important for some muscle attachments, force transmission with activity, and some proprioceptive function (perception of position and movement of the body).  

Fascia plays a vital role in our muscle function and our body’s mobility, therefore we must address it in massage therapy to achieve superior results with a massage treatment. Working with fascia is often incorporated within a regular massage treatment – as a client, it may not feel any different than a “muscle tension” focused massage. To address the superficial fascia, techniques are lighter and often used without lubrication (i.e., oil or lotion). To address the deeper fascia, techniques focus on muscle tension directly (kneading, stripping muscles in all directions of movement, or cupping) and stretching (passive stretching, segmental stretching or pulling on structures to feel a stretch) through the muscles and joints of the body. By addressing both layers of fascia it will improve circulation, soothe nerves, and facilitate freedom of movement under the skin, increasing the sensation of looseness when you leave your massage treatment. 

Fascial treatment is often included when treating different conditions including repetitive-strain injuries, muscle strains, nerve impingements (like carpal tunnel syndrome and thoracic outlet syndrome) and inflammatory conditions (like plantar fasciitis, osteoarthritis, etc.) Treatment can also be done pre-event for athletes, usually in the weeks and days before an event, or used as a post-event recovery treatment. Fascial release is becoming more popular as a home treatment option with foam rollers and massage sticks available for purchase.  

For more information on how our massage therapists incorporate fascial release and mobility techniques into treatments received at ProActive Rehab, please check out our website at or give us a call, 705-788-1480.  We will be pleased to chat with you more about this topic!  


Sarah Tyler RMT 

We're fundraising for Hospice Huntsville this April! Donate here: