Fascia is a fibrous collagen connective tissue, which is characteristic with a differing flexibility. Its structure is resembling a spider web. It connects and at the same time separates the body on functional units, and form a general structure and shape - it is formed by fascial web. Fascia can be compared to an elastic t-shirt which perfectly encircles the body. It constantly changes and adapts to individual requirements of our bodies and gravitation. It reacts to stress by producing specific substances, which secure stability and defense of our body. The problem begins in the moment when the stress stops and the produced substances are not removed from the body. The body posture can gradually change and with it also movement.
Thoracic fascia is not very strong, covering the outer and inner surface of the thoracic wall. Superficial thoracic fascia (fascia pectoralis superficialis) it covers the surface of the pectoral muscle, front and side of the thoracic wall and it transforms into a superficial abdominal fascia. Below the pectoral muscle is a stiff ligamentous membrane (clavipectoral fascia) covering the pectoralis minor.
THORACIC FASCIA AND BREATHING
Breathing is a form of movement, which has parameters that are constantly repeating force with
in our body. Contractions of the diaphragm and lifted ribs with transverse neck muscles (scalene muscles) and intercostal muscles increase the space in the abdominal cavity. When we inhale, the force is working against elastic forces of the fascia and membranes, meanwhile during exhale the force of the muscles is minimal. Exhaling is a passive way of breathing. It is caused by various pressure inside the abdominal cavity and pressure in the thoracic cavity and further elastic force of the fascia and membrane of the ribcage in combination with flexibility of rib construction.
If there is something restricting the movement of the diaphragm, natural overpressure in the area of the abdominal cavity is unevenly distributed towards the thoracic cavity, which results in compensation in the area of the chest and shoulder girdle. Changes can be manifested in many fasciae of the thoracic system, in connection to vertebrae and ribs. And because this is a connected system of fasciae, changes can be manifested in distant areas of the body. This process can take 2 weeks or even months since the obvious cause (injury, surgery). Changes are frequently manifested in the areas of the transfer between cavities (abdominal cavity - thoracic cavity - neck area). If the changes are manifested on the fasciae in these areas, it can lead to dissolution of the of the whole sections of the body. The result is visible change of the outer as well as inner form of the surrounding thoracic wall.
Therapy of the shortened thoracic (and other) fasciae:
- Myofascial and mobilizing techniques performed by physiotherapist
- Mobilizing breathing exercises
- Stabilizing exercises
- Training relaxation in order to relieve tension
Author: FYZIOklinika physiotherapy Ltd., Prague, Czech Republic