What is Fascia and Why Should Police Officers Care?
The ability to move is a requirement to become a police officer and it remains a requirement throughout their careers. Mobility is not only essential for job performance but also injury prevention as the often physical and unpredictable nature of law enforcement duties puts officers at a high risk of work-related physical injury. Fascia plays an important role in the body’s ability to move and avoid injury.
Fascia is a soft connective tissue located just beneath the skin and accounts for about 20 percent of your body mass. It is an important aspect of the muscle infrastructure as it wraps and connects the muscle to bone, nerves and blood vessels. The layer of fascia called the epimysium encases the muscle, then a deeper layer of fascia, called the perimysium, wraps the long muscle fibers into bundles and then the microscopic muscle fiber is wrapped up in the fascia known as endomysium. At either end of the muscle the fascia forms together to create the tendon that connects muscle to the bone. Together muscle and fascia make up the myofascial system.
This myofascial system is meant to glide smoothly to allow for proper movement. Healthy fascia has the ability to slide about 75 percent of its total length. As we age our fascia can begin to become “sticky” making movement more difficult. We can develop fascial restrictions from trauma and stress. These restrictions can limit our range of motion significantly. Police officers in the normal aging process will develop these restrictions, add the weight of duty belts and long hours of sitting in patrol cars and the extreme stress faced in just one shift and the fascia of police officers becomes restricted much faster than that of non-law enforcement. Due to the extraordinary stressors police officers face, proper care of the myofascial system needs to be a priority to prevent injury and maintain mobility
Duty belt weight, long hours of sitting in patrol cars and sudden movement in volatile situations such as hand to hand combat during an arrest all add to the hip and back pain levels of police officers. Overly tight fascia adds to this pain by compressing the nerves and muscles and restricting movement. Healthy fascia will lessen back pain rather than increase it. Police officers benefit greatly by maintaining healthy fascia because ultimately, it is the fascia, or the myofascial system that helps us remain upright, maintain proper posture and move freely without injury.
Police officers can restore flexibility and maintain proper care of the myofascial system through proper stretching and pulling of the muscle and deep connective tissue (fascia) by practicing tactical yoga, or TMFR. TMFR has been specifically designed to reach both areas for a whole-body myofascial release that benefits mobility, flexibility and overall myofascial health. A consistent practice will improve the body’s abilities and release tightened, painful fascia over time, and decrease the chances of work-related injury.
TMFR teachers are specifically trained to understand the mechanics of the body, to understand the immense stresses that police officers face and how best to serve their mind and body as whole, the myofascial system and the postures and movement that best benefit the health of the body of a police officer through the practice of tactical yoga. It is our mission to support recovery and resilience inpolice officers and we believe myofascial release plays a big role, not just in recovery, but in prevention and continued resiliency.