9 Signs Your Fascia is Tight and Why it Happens


A woman is caught in a web of blue fascia

Fascia that is too tight can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. How do you know if your fascia is too tight? Let’s get into the list of the seven signs of tight fascia.

  1. Decreased Range of Motion
  2. Chronic “Muscle” Pain
  3. Poor Posture
  4. Morning Body Stiffness
  5. Shallow Breathing
  6. Poor Injury Recovery
  7. Plantar Fasciitis
  8. Chronic Pelvic Pain
  9. Slow Post-Surgical Healing

If you’ve ever experienced or are currently experiencing any of these symptoms, stick around because we’re going to dive deeper into these seven symptoms of tight fascia.

1. Decreased Range of Motion

You may have been surprised one day when you went to reach up into the cupboard for that box of cereal and couldn’t raise your arm up all the way.

Or maybe you bent down to pick up something from off the floor and you only made it about halfway down. These are telltale signs that your fascia is not functioning optimally and has lost some of its elasticity.

A decrease in the range of motion means that there are myofascial restrictions that are preventing full motion from happening. Since fascia encompasses the body in its entirety, which means it’s all connected.

For example, a myofascial restriction in your pelvis can prevent you from lifting your arm up.

2. Chronic “Muscle” Pain

Are you one of the many suffering from chronic pain? Did you know that your fascia has 6-10 times more sensory nerves than your muscles? Sometimes the muscles get blamed for being the cause of pain when in fact the pain messages are coming from the fascia.

Your fascia isn’t just “packaging material” but, it’s a complex network of soft tissue that is constantly multitasking, taking and receiving information as well as keeping the form of your body structures together.

Our fascia is constantly communicating intelligently with our brains. If something isn’t right it tells our brains and in return, the brain sends pain signals to our fascia telling it to feel pain.

3. Poor Posture

Fascia is very adaptive. If we routinely have our bodies in posture-compromising positions for long periods of time our fascia will follow the leader. Our fascia will become less fluid and immovable like dried-out clay.

Suppose you have developed poor postural alignment in any part of your body. In that case, you must consider repetitive movements and stationary positions you have your body in regularly.

When you hold your body in one position for long periods of time, such as hunching forward over a computer, you are instructing your fascia to do what it needs to do to hold that position. This is to make the body more efficient in using its resources in the future.

The brain perceives a pattern in movement or position and will instruct the fascia to become restrictive in some areas and overstretched in others to compensate for this “new posture”. Your habit of poor posture will inevitably lead to actual structural poor posture.

4. Morning Body Stiffness

When we sleep, we are sometimes in the same body position for 7-8 hours a night (hopefully). That’s a long time to be in one spot and not moving.

When we’re sleeping, we’re also not hydrating because well we’re sleeping. If we haven’t taken care of proper nourishment the day before, this along with inactivity can cause our body to become stiff upon rising the next day. When we stop moving, so does our fascia.

Our fascia can become tight and restrictive due to improper nourishment and inactivity. Sleeping in itself is not what is causing your morning body stiffness but it’s the lifestyle overall that may be causing your morning body stiffness.

A sedentary lifestyle along with improper nourishment will most certainly affect your fascia.

5. Shallow Breathing

Shallow breathing can occur when we get out of the practice of proper deep inhalation.

Spending long hours sitting down can be a strong contributing factor to the tight fascia in the abdominal cavity and the diaphragm muscle cannot function with complete movement.

Both chronic compression of the abdominals and regular practice of chest breathing affects the fascia and trains it to become tighter.

By sitting for long periods of the day and a collapsed forward posture, the stomach can actually become almost “glued” to the diaphragm, further causing shallow breathing because you cannot fully contract your diaphragm muscle.

6. Poor Injury Recovery

Unfortunately, many people suffer from the effects of an improperly healed injury. This could be a torn rotator cuff, ankle sprain, golfer’s elbow, tennis elbow, or ANY injury that happens in the body.

Some people report a lack of strength, inability to get a full range of motion, localized pain, and a tendency to have repeat injuries in the same area. If the fascia is chronically tight it will not allow proper healing and recovery to take place.

This becomes especially true if we’ve been injured, do nothing to facilitate healing, and continue to use the injured body part as if it’s not injured. Overuse of injured fascia does not allow the fascia to heal properly.

7. Plantar Fasciitis

Tight muscles are often blamed when someone has Plantar Fasciitis. However, the real culprit is often tight and dehydrated fascia.

The fascia of the leg can become tight and even damaged if you have been sitting or standing for long periods of time. The tight leg fascia will then shrink like a dried-out sponge pulling on the soft tissue of the foot causing pain in the heel.

The pain felt in the soft tissue of the foot may become so sensitive that you cannot put any pressure on or even stand on that foot. This sensitivity can last for an extended period of time, indicating its chronically tight fascia.

8. Chronic Pelvic Pain

Chronic pelvic pain occurs most often in women but can also occur in men. When the fascia of the body becomes tight and dry it can pull on the soft tissues of the pelvis causing myofascial trigger points.

These myofascial trigger points can occur throughout the soft tissue of the pelvis. These myofascial trigger points occurring in the pelvis can cause dull or sharp pains in the pelvis, low back, and glute areas.

These myofascial trigger points can cause painful sex, incomplete voiding of the bladder, urinary tract infections, and more intense feeling menstrual cramps.

If the pelvic pain you feel doesn’t resolve over time it may indicate that this is a myofascial pain problem.

9. Slow Post-Surgical Healing

Typically, after surgery, we are lying in the hospital bed day after day for the majority of the day. This is counterproductive if we are hoping to heal fast from surgery.

Fascia runs from head to toe and intertwines into every soft tissue, artery, vein, and organ of the body. This sedentary healing protocol that is typical after surgery does not make the fascia very happy or healthy and has an impact on the healing that takes place afterward.

Remaining sedentary after surgery will cause poor circulation and the fascia will adapt to the new normal posture. This combination will lead to slower wound healing.

*There may be a good medical reason your doctor doesn’t want you to move after surgery. Just let them know your desire to move and heed their directions.

Don’t Neglect Your Fascia

There are many other symptoms that can happen when we have unhealthy fascia that is too tight. If you suspect your fascia is too tight, then it’s time to start working towards a happier healthier fascia.

The key is not to get hyper-focused on the symptoms and neglect the real true cause of your symptoms, fascia that is too tight and restricted. The good news is that your fascia is highly adaptable and it’s never too late to start improving it.

Giving attention to myofascial restrictions will help bring balance back to the soft tissue. There are simple things you can do every day at home or work to get on the road to recovery and heal your tight fascia.

If you have been doing things like stretching, pain medications, and hydrotherapy with very minimal relief of your pain, it just may be that you have dry and tight fascia. Fascia that is dry and tight is more prone to tearing and shearing, causing painful myofascial damage.

The myofascial system has mostly been ignored in modern medicine. It was within the past decade that it was studied as a system that has an effect on pain and range of motion.

It is now understood that the myofascial system also responds to our emotions as well. Now we know that our nutrition, hydration, emotions, physical activity, and mental disposition all impact this responsive myofascial system.

How to Make Your Fascia Happy

Diet

It’s not a complicated process to improve your too-tight fascia and minimize the symptoms you’ve been suffering from. The best place to start is with your diet.

Consuming adequate calories, fat, protein, carbohydrates, water, vitamins, and minerals is crucial. Eat the rainbow every day. Eat balanced meals that give you energy.

Drink enough water in any form you like to ensure you are not dehydrated.

Movement

Motion is lotion, so get moving. Dynamic stretching is great for the fascia because it gets the circulation going, warms up the fascia making it more malleable, and uses the full range of motion.

If you’ve been in one posture for an extended period, do the opposite movement of whatever your posture has been to prevent your fascia from molding into that form.

Make sure this is a natural movement and nothing that is forced or unnatural for the human body.

Pilates is another great option for comprehensive movement for your fascia. As well as Somatic Body Movement, which resets the brain’s limits on how much and how far any soft tissue can move.

Rest

You have permission to rest. Actually, you HAVE to rest.

It’s counterproductive to constantly be pushing our bodies to the max. Overtraining actually leads to fascial damage.

To heal your fascia, you need to get adequate rest. This is the time your body will use all those good nutrients that you fed it and the circulation that delivered the goods, and it will use these tools to repair your fascia.

Emotion Intelligence

Your emotions are responsible for a lot of the pain you may experience. Both in the mind and in the body. Our brains are closely involved in every system of our body including our myofascial system.

Negative emotions can get trapped in the myofascial resulting in pain and dysfunction. Tending to your emotional health every day is crucial to healthy functioning fascia.

Having a quiet walk out in nature, journaling, talk therapy, and affirmations are a few ways you can start to deal with your emotions in a healthy way.

Accomplishing these daily may require you to set boundaries both with yourself and others to make the time and circumstances that are conducive to achieving emotional intelligence.

What to do if you Need Help with Your Fascia

If you feel like you can use the help in relaxing too-tight fascia then I would highly recommend you seek out a Massage Therapist in your area that specializes in Myofascial Release.

This massage modality is the best for getting blood flow going and releasing restrictions that have formed in the fascia. A Massage Therapist who performs Gua Sha will be effective in releasing fascia that is too tight.

Cupping is another modality a Massage Therapist can use that is highly effective in releasing restricted fascial tissue.

A Massage Therapist will use a variety of techniques to release fascial restrictions. Following the treatment protocol of the Massage Therapist will yield the greatest results.

This article was written by and is the intellectual property of www.galeanomassage.com. If this article appears anywhere else on the internet it was stolen from the copyright owner.


MEDICAL DISCLAIMER

The content in this article is for informational, entertainment, and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a trained qualified physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Galeano Massage nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, or supplements or those diagnosed with a medical illness should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.

REFERENCES:

Kondrup F, Gaudreault N, Venne G. The deep fascia and its role in chronic pain and pathological conditions: A review. Clin Anat. 2022 Jul;35(5):649-659. doi: 10.1002/ca.23882. Epub 2022 Apr 27. PMID: 35417568.

Stecco C, Macchi V, Porzionato A, Duparc F, De Caro R. The fascia: the forgotten structure. Ital J Anat Embryol. 2011;116(3):127-38. PMID: 22852442.

Pavan PG, Stecco A, Stern R, Stecco C. Painful connections: densification versus fibrosis of fascia. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2014;18(8):441. doi: 10.1007/s11916-014-0441-4. PMID: 25063495.

Sarah

I've been practicing Massage Therapy since 2014. I'm a health and wellness enthusiast. I'm always learning and experimenting with different techniques, recipes, and healing modalities. I believe that we need to approach health and wellness from a WHOLE-listic point of view and understand that it will constantly be changing and is never stagnant. We are all unique and what works for one person will not necessarily work for another person. As I grow, change, and experiment I will share what I have learned as it may help someone else in need.

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