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how does fascia tear?

How Does Fascia Tear? The Top 8 Ways to Tear and Adhese Fascia

Injured Fascia


When I see patients, whether local or LONG DISTANCE, who have struggled with CHRONIC PAIN (some of them for decades), they often wonder what led to them develop FASCIAL ADHESIONS. Sometimes, these people know exactly what caused their problem.  But in many cases they have no idea, which can be extremely frustrating, particularly for people who take care of themselves and look like they could go out and win a CrossFit competition at a moment’s notice.  Below is a list of the most common reasons I find for Adhesed Fascia, answering the commonly-asked question, ‘how does fascia tear?

  • OVERSTRETCHING INJURIES:  These are the sort of injuries that occur in SPORTS and CAR WRECKSWHIPLASH INJURIES, PULLED MUSCLES, or SPRAINED ANKLES are great examples of these sorts of injuries.  Tissue is stretched beyond it’s normal ability to elast, and something gives in its microscopic structure.  You might not realize it at the moment (or more likely, you might shrug it off as inconsequential), but the resulting damage leads to pain, restriction, LOSS OF PROPRIOCEPTION, and eventually degeneration (HERE).  Although this “overstretching” usually occurs all at once in the form of an injury, it can occur a little bit at a time over the course of years or even decades.  Overstretching tissues can cause problems most people don’t think much about until they or someone they love is affected.  For instance, growing too fast can lead to a chronically overstretched quad, which can lead to OSGOOD SCHLATTERS.
  • REPETITIVE INJURIES:  Many TENDINOUS INJURIES would fall into this category. However, it can often be difficult to differentiate what part of the injury is tendon and what part is fascia.  The great thing is that in most cases it doesn’t really matter since both will be treated in a similar fashion (HERE).  There are lots of factors that can come into play here, but realize that poor biomechanics can play a part.  For example, PLANTAR FASCIITIS can be a component of any of these first three bullet points, but is often the result of poor biomechanics over time.
  • “TOO HEAVY” INJURIES:  These are the injuries that occur from lifting things that are too heavy.  Fascia, which in this case works like a weightlifter’s belt to hold things in place, cannot tolerated the load put on it and starts to give / tear.  Although many people associate (sometimes correctly) this injury with HERNIATED DISCS, the truth is that most of these problems can be helped.  Although these sorts of injuries can happen almost any anatomical location, they occur frequently in the THORACOLUMBAR FASCIA.   Lifting things that are too heavy is another common cause of the “Pulled Muscles” I mentioned in the first bullet point.
  • POSTURAL INJURIES:  Crappy posture not only looks bad, but it is associated with any number of seemingly unrelated health problems (DIABETES for instance), and that’s just for starters.  When people end up with FHP (FORWARD HEAD POSTURE), sooner or later they can count on both NECK PAIN and deterioration of the C-spine (not to mention those pesky and sometimes even debilitating Trap / Rhomboid / Levator TRIGGER POINTS).
  • IMPACT INJURIES:  Have you ever noticed the spider web effect that sometimes occurs when a rock (or hand) hits glass?  There is typically lots of damage at the site of impact, with the damage becoming less and less as you move away from the area, toward the outside edges of the pane or windshield.  This phenomenon is often seen with Fascia as well.  Another impact injury I have noticed in my time in practice is STRETCHMARKS (I’m probably not talking about what you are thinking about here).  The stretchmarks I have seen that actually cause people problems are frequently caused by impacts with objects that are harder and more immovable than they are (railroad tracks or vehicles for instance).
  • POST SURGICAL ADHESIONS:  This is a big one, and with our own government coming to the conclusion that six out of ten surgeries in the United States are unnecessary (HERE), it’s bigger still.  The question that must be answered as to whether I can help you or not has to do with the location (depth) of said adhesions (HERE).  HERE are some more posts on post-surgical adhesions.
  • CHRONIC INFLAMMATION:  This one can work against you all by itself, or it can be an ugly component of any of the previous bullets. Even though INFLAMMATION is a necessary part of any healing process, too much of it has the potential to make things worse.  The ultimate problem is that inflammation always causes FIBROSIS — the medical name for SCAR TISSUE.  While this is part of normal healing, imbalances in this system are not only a leading contributor to Chronic Pain (HERE), but the single leading cause of death in Westernized nations (HERE). 
  • BURNS:  While burns are a common cause of Chronic Pain and hardcore restricted fascia along with large amounts of visible scar tissue, I realized a long time ago that they do not respond to what I do.

If you want to see what it takes to start successfully addressing these sorts of problems, I’ve created a post that covers (or at least touches on) most bases.  HERE it is.  And for those of you who wonder if it really works or not, take a gander at THESE TESTIMONIALS, some of which are almost too amazing to believe.


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2 Responses

  1. Dr. Schierling,
    Very well written article. Unfortunately I didn’t find the answer to the question, does chronic long term contracture of skeletal muscles cause fibrosis of the fascia and dysfunction of the mechanoreceptors and proprioceptive found in it ? I am referring to many of the muscles in the head and neck especially those inserted from above and below into the mandible.
    I came across the Fascial Distortion Model and was intrigued by what I read. I have attempted to contact 3 different members of the group from Washington State listed, but none have returned my calls to their offices or emails. Hopefully you can help me with this question and others that I have.
    At the moment I am mentoring a number of dentists and physical therapists here in USA and Europe, South Africa, and Australia. All want to know more about the stomatognathic system and its disorders. Very few if any know anything about the proprioceptive system. I want to introduce it to them.
    Until later,
    Dr. James Carlson

    1. I will see what I can do, but it may be awhile as I have several irons in the fire currently. Thanks, Russ S

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