Fascia is a complex network of connective tissues that covers every structure in the human body, from muscles and bones to organs and nerves. It plays a crucial role in providing support and stability, allowing us to move freely, and transmitting force throughout the body. However, despite its importance, fascia has often been overlooked by traditional medicine and is only recently beginning to receive the recognition it deserves.
What is Fascia Made Of?
Fascia is composed of collagen fibers, elastin fibers, and a hydrated gel-like substance that helps provide support and flexibility. The fibers are arranged in a web-like structure, with multiple layers working together to create a 3-dimensional network that surrounds and supports every structure in the body.
What Does Fascia Do?
Fascia has several key functions, including:
Providing support and stability: Fascia helps to maintain the shape and stability of structures throughout the body, preventing them from collapsing or shifting out of place.
Allowing movement: Fascia also provides a gliding surface for muscles, allowing them to move smoothly and freely without getting caught on other structures.
Transmitting force: Finally, fascia is also responsible for transmitting force throughout the body, allowing us to move with strength and power.
Why is Fascia Important?
Fascia is important because it helps to maintain the health and function of all the structures in the body. When fascia is healthy, it provides support, stability, and ease of movement, allowing us to perform all of our daily activities without pain or restriction.
However, when fascia becomes stiff or restricted, it can lead to pain, decreased range of motion, and poor posture. This is often the result of trauma, injury, or repetitive stress, and can lead to a wide range of conditions, including back pain, neck pain, and headaches.
How to Care for Your Fascia
To keep your fascia healthy and functioning properly, it is important to engage in regular self-care practices, such as:
Movement: Regular exercise and movement, especially low-impact activities like yoga or swimming, can help keep your fascia healthy by improving circulation and flexibility.
Bodywork: bodywork such as myofascial bodywork, physio, massage or chiro can also be helpful in promoting circulation, reducing tension, and restoring mobility to the fascia.
Breathwork: breathing intentionally and regularly, deeply and expansively can be very helpful to keep your fascia open
In conclusion, fascia is a vital component of the human body that plays a crucial role in our health and wellbeing. By understanding its importance and incorporating self-care practices into our daily routines, we can ensure that our fascia stays healthy and functioning properly, allowing us to live a pain-free and active life.
As Tom Myers, founder of Anatomy Trains, puts it:
"Are there really 600 muscles? OR only 1 muscle in 600 fascial pockets"
This drawing explanation is a great way to look at it:
Treating the Fascia:
When it comes to treatment of the fascia there is ongoing research around what we are actually doing to the fascia to "release" it. "Myofascial release" (myo - muscle, fascial - fascia) is a commonly used term for treatment of the fascia. According to Tom Myers, what appears to be happening is when a trained bodyworker is treating the fascia they are hydrating the fascial tissues. Imagine wetting & ringing out a dry sponge. The sponge goes from dry, brittle & stuck to moist, fluffy & moveable. This often happens in the treatment room with clients who receive fascial treatment; they look & feel taller & more open in their body.
It is important to note that treatment of the fascia (Rolfing, Myofascial Release, Structural Integration) is not the same as massage: Deep Tissue or Trigger Point therapy. Whilst the fascia is being touched & moved in massage, if there is no direct intentional connection with the fascia it may remain stuck.
Further studies are pointing to fascia being the missing link between a lot of ailments, health conditions, injuries, ongoing chronic pain & getting well. I have been treating the fascial system for over 4 years now and have seen some amazing results from people who have had ongoing issues that wouldn't go away with physiotherapy, chiropractic or massage. Often times fascial treatment improves the outcomes from these other modalities.
A fascial system approach is an all over, holistic body approach. The results are much more long-lasting!
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