Understanding your Fascia

your fascia!

Fascia is ‘fascionable’ for good reason. It’s the versatile connective tissue that holds and nourishes our muscles, bones, organs and supporting systems while allowing each its freedom of movement. Dysfunction in the fascia underlie many of our aches, pains and reduced mobility and frequently supplies answers to problems resisting alternate diagnosis. 10 years of remedial massage has taught me that most people's 'body-age' is younger than they think it is. We don't usually have to live with our aches and pains - many fascial issues are reversible . This article outlines several interesting and little known characteristics of fascia and how remedial massage comes into its own with both maintaining it in peak condition and with its treatment when restricted.

Fascia is our tough, elastic, adaptive, structural material. It is a 3D fractal net of mainly collagen and elastin in which our bones, organs, muscles, nerves, arteries and veins sit suspended and interconnected. It wraps and penetrates every part of the body, even down to the level of individual cells.Tendons, muscle sheaths, and our favourite ITB (Iliotibial Band) are all fascia. A layer of Superficial Fascia also links the skin to the muscular system below, a photo of which appears at the head of this article.

Fascia is found throughout the body in a great variety of forms, shapes and characteristics. To get a quick 'users' understanding have a look at this short video (from “Strolling under the skin” linked below) showing a 3D computer model of a tendon sliding in the layer of Superficial Fascia under the skin.

You can see how the healthy fascial net allows unimpeded blood flow and movement while keeping everything operating in its right neighbourhood. It’s easy to visualise the discomfort, loss of inner freedom and health should this net get stuck. To see the real thing you can watch the full “Strolling under the skin” video which shows fascia in all its beautiful manifestations (please read the warning re queezy stomachs first!).

Some other interesting tidbits:

Healthy fascial layers are able to produce a lubricant, hyaluronic acid, which keeps internal friction minimised.Through healthy fascial fibres seeps a fluid, containing Glycosaminoglycans, which is thought to provide hydraulic pressure balancing of the net. Interestingly Glycosaminoglycans adjust their viscosity in response to physical forces applied.

Fascia constantly adapts to what we ask of it. If we sit for hours a day, fascia stiffens and thickens to make this easier. Unfortunately, it will not become more elastic, toned and hydrated – that’s only what we want it to do. The body develops to make what we actually do easier.

Fascia nourishes and transports waste. Fascia houses lymph ducts and active immune cells. Fascial tissue is critical in defending out health.