What is behind sports injuries that won't quickly heal? Running Times Magazine published a great article on the rolf of fascia, and you can read it online here, including information on how Rolfing® Structural Integration can help with fascial injuries and problems.
The article starts with a great explanation of what fascia is, summed up in this quote from Rolfer™ Tom Myers: "While every anatomy [book] lists around 600 separate muscles, it is more accurate to say that there is one muscle poured into six hundred pockets of the fascial webbing." What this means is that any injury or stress to an individual muscle will affect the fascial webbing as a whole. Think of a snag in a knit fabric; it will be most gnarly in the area of the snag itself, but it will create a pull through the fabric that can distort the whole. Resolving the problem means fixing not only the area of the "snag" but also it's compensating patterns in other areas of the fascial net / body.
The article goes on to explain that new research shows that fascia is not just wrapping, but tissue that can "contract, feel, and impact the way you move" - meaning that it can be negatively impacted by lack of activity, chronic stress, poor posture, injuries, and repetitive movements. While this is new news to mainstream healthcare and media, Rolfers have known this for years, and in my Seattle Rolfing® practice I see many athletes with fascial issues that can be helped, as well as many non-athletes whose fascia has become tight or imbalanced from other activities - like hunching over a computer for hours a day, carrying young children around, auto accidents, and the like.
The article mentions Rolfing in a section on fascial care. The things you can do on your own to maintain healthy, flexible, resilient fascia include staying hydrated, streching, and not pushing through injuries. Outside help includes movement education and seeing a "fascial specialist." I think it's fair to say that Rolfers were the first fascial specialists, as Ida Rolf was one of the first people to 1) credit fascia with its proper role in the body and to 2) develop work to lengthen, sculpt, and balance the fascia. Many other practitioners will be trained to work with a local injury, but not necessarily know how to work with the pattern as it extends through your whole body. (I wrote about that here in a blog post about how Rolfers work with fascia differently than massage therapists, but the same thinking applies also to Rolfing versus physical therapy.)
If you are interested to learn more about fascia and how Rolfing could help you, feel free to call me if you are in the Seattle area for a phone or office consult, or visit the Rolf Institute® website for a list of Certified Rolfers and Certified Advanced Rolfers in your area. Like some other Rolfers, I also practice visceral work, craniosacral work, and nerve work. While these use a lighter end of the touch spectrum, they are also fascial-based modalities as fascial strain patterns are behind visceral strain, cranial strain, and tethered nerves.
All in all, Running Times Magazine has published a great article, well worth reading to understand more about your body and fascia in particular.