Have you heard of fascia? If you haven’t, you’re not alone; this tissue type is present throughout your body but there isn’t a lot known about it.
What is fascia?
The old-school definition is that fascia is formed by layers of connective tissue that act as a ‘packing tissue’ for your organs, muscles, and bones. However, recent research is changing the way we view this incredible tissue.
A 2018 article published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine describes fascia as a “continuum of loose and dense fibrous connective tissue that permeates the body and enables all body systems to operate in an integrated manner.” In other words: fascia is made up of different types of tissue that connect every part of your body and allow it to function in a unified way.
What does fascia do?
Fascia has many essential roles. By attaching to certain tissues it provides stability and strength, separates muscles, and enfolds and supports organs and nerves. It also contains a substance that allows the fascial layers to slide smoothly over one another. Just like lubricant in an engine, this stops various parts in your body from becoming stuck, damaged, and dysfunctional.
Fascia also appears to be linked to musculoskeletal pain, proprioception (the sense of where your body is in space), and your lymphatic system − essentially a drainage system in your body which plays a major role in your immune defense.
Can you improve fascial function?
Fascia thickens and becomes ‘sticky’ from: lack of physical activity, injury − including repetitive strain injury (RSI), and aging. Although we can’t stop aging, we can reduce the chronic low-grade inflammation (dubbed inflammaging) that often accompanies it; and we can improve our lifestyles.
Choose a healthy diet filled with fresh fruit and vegetables, leafy greens, wholegrains and high-quality protein. Move often, stretch regularly and maintain good posture.
If you suffer from an injury, aim to repair the damage. Manual fascial techniques can effectively release “stuck” fascia so they once again slide. Foam rolling can improve mobility in the deeper fascia and also increase slide between fascial layers. Exercise regularly. Try Pilates, Tai chi, or yoga.
Keeping your fascia healthy has many benefits; you’ll be able to move easily, have more flexibility and experience less pain. Ask us if you have any questions… and stay tuned for more information!
New research is finding out more and more about the essential roles fascia plays in our bodies, and the importance of keeping it functioning well for optimal health.