What is fascia and why does it matter?
Fascia seems to be the new trending word in the health and fitness industries. Science has only recently started to pay attention to this fascinating part of our bodies. But what is fascia? What is it's purpose? How does fascia relate to pain? What are the benefits of stretching the fascia?
What is fascia?
Fascia is a three-dimensional web of connective tissue. In a more simplistic view, fascia is made up of 3 major components that are: elastin, collagen and goo. Elastin being like a rubber elastic band giving the fibres a stretch and recoil. Collagen acting like a tough thread giving strength and support. And finally, the goo, being a thick lubricating substance to provide shock absorption (like the gel pads available for running shoes or high heel shoes), while also providing lubrication to the elastin and collagen fibres. Fascia is the protective sheath that surrounds each organ and muscle in our bodies offering protection from outside trauma. It also supports the musculoskeletal system enabling us to walk, jump, dance, run, and so on.
Fast facts about fascia: (Healthline.com)
Fascia connects all connective tissues (that means the muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and blood)
Fascia holds together the entire body.
There are four different kinds of fascia (structural, intersectoral, visceral, and spinal), but they’re all connected.
When it’s healthy, it’s flexible, supple, and it glides.
What is it's purpose?
We are like a grapefruit. The fascia is our body's connective tissue that keeps everything in place. It is an all-encompassing and interwoven system found everywhere in our body. It connects muscle to bone (tendons are made of connective tissue), and bone to bone (ligaments are also made of connected tissue). Even our organs, our bones and the discs between our vertebras have connective tissue.
When you cut into a grapefruit, you find individual wedges of fruit. And within each wedge, you find individually wrapped pods of liquid. It is the same with the fascia in our bodies.
Science has discovered that blood, nerves, and muscles are enveloped and penetrated by fascia, allowing muscles and organs to glide smoothly against each other. When our fascia has small tears and distortions, it can cause issues like limited range of motion and limited flexibility, etc.
A doctor once told me: "Imagine that you remove every part of your body that is not fascia and you will be left with a perfect 3D model of your body." The fascia is everywhere in our bodies.. so much so that if we even emptied our bodies of all that is not fascia, we would be left with a clear 3D model of the body. We would be able to see our posture, our facial features, and, where our organs and bones should be.
"The importance of fascia: Advanced Healing Centre Fascia supports and covers your muscles, and everything else including organs, bones and nerves. Fascia is interwoven like threads in fabric, connecting every part of the body to every other part. It binds the human body into an integral whole, allowing the proper function and moving structures including joints, tendons and muscles. Fascia can become restricted and inelastic from trauma such as accidents and surgery, as well as from poor posture, chronic inflammation and overuse. Prolonged tension from stress or emotional upset can also cause restrictions. Restrictions in fascia pull on muscles and other structures, causing tightness, pain and limited movement."
How does fascia relate to pain?
It is now known that pain, tightness and discomfort can be caused by distorted fascia. When our fascia is distorted it can pull and compress our bodies causing an improper alignment of our body's structure. Scientific studies have shown that tension of the fascia, in the knee for example, can cause tension issues to the rest of the body (via fascia) such as the hip and/or the ankle. It is shown that Plantar Fasciitis, IT Band Syndrome, as well as frozen shoulder, can be relieved via fascia release whether through manipulation or stretchingexercises.
On a daily basis, we all do things that can impact our fascia. Little things. How we walk, how we stand while having a conversation or waiting in line, how we carry our child, and how we sit. Fascia will compensate for poor posture, for injury, and for any imbalance in your body. It works hard for you. In the long run, after working so hard, it will eventually get distorted leaving you with a tightness, pain, loss of mobility, loss of flexibility and loss of range of movement.
What are the benefits of stretching the fascia?
Dr. Mercola says: "Without adequate physical movement and exercise, the connective tissue structures start to overgrow, losing flexibility and suppleness. (...) Overly tight fascia can even compress nerves and muscles, resulting in pain, either at the site or elsewhere in your body, via force transmission." Visit this Link to learn more about fascia from Dr. Mercola.
Fascia stretching engages the muscles, the joints, the tendons, the ligaments, and even the bones. This results are increased mobility, strength, flexibility and range of motion of the body. Another important fact is that a resilient and elastic fascia results in a decrease of injury. There is a lot written on this subject all over the web.
Yours in health and movement,