What’s Holding You Together?

Time to Meet Your Fascia

We often talk about building muscle and losing fat. We talk about fashion and appearance. But rarely do we talk about that which underlies all movement: Our fascia. Fascia is one of the most amazing things you have, yet how many of us know where it is and exactly what it is?

Our fascia is what holds us together.

The fascia is like a continuous 3D web of tissue from the top to the bottom, the back to the front and the inside to the outside of your body.

Fascia as The Soft Tissue Angel

Fascia is everywhere. It’s the interconnecting tissue that surrounds, separates and connects all our muscles and saves us from disintegrating.

Think anatomy and think body:

Structure without function is a corpse.
But function without structure is a ghost. ((1))

Fascia gives our body form, by holding body tissues together—and function—by doing the opposite: becoming supple and stretchy.

When we move we exert our muscles. But because none of our muscles extend the full length of our body, to get full body movement they need each other. Your fascia takes care of this. Fascia is the intermediary, providing a transmission of force and energy from one muscle to another, and in a graceful, non brutal way, so that you can move.

Fascia is the intermediary, providing a transmission of force and energy from one muscle to another.

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Fascia as Deep And Meaningful

If you are familiar with fascia, it could be superficial fascia that your thinking of. It’s the insulation and padding just under your skin. It stores fat and water and provides a canal system for your lymph, nerve and blood vessels. It can even stretch. Consider what happens in pregnancy… or obesity.

Further into your body your muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels are covered with deep fascia. If you have pain or injury this is what your therapist will often be working on with techniques such as deep tissue or myofascial massage, rolfing, and Bowen therapy.

And really deep visceral fascia holds your organs in their appropriate spaces.

 

The ‘Plane’ and Fashionable Fascia

Fascia is suddenly fashionable. I love this. It means a return to body intention, movement and alignment.

Exercise programs often isolate muscles or work on particular parts of our body. That’s great, but our fascia doesn’t work in isolation. It works across planes. To exercise your fascia you have to do this too.

Yoga is a great tool for fascia care. Many yoga poses stretch the fascia; sun salutations, downward facing dog,  intense side stretch (parsvottanasana) or staff pose will all do it. Add yoga ball or foam roller massages to get inside your hip and shoulder fascia, the soles of your feet and tricky painful spots that indicate muscle shortness, ligament problems or tangled tissue.

Or try Movnat for a complete ‘planing’ workout. You’ll get locomotive (walking, running, jumping, crawling and swimming), manipulative (lifting and carrying) and combative skills (like striking and grappling).

Your body was built for this.

Research is increasingly showing that Fascia is much more than a coat for your skin and bones.

Your fascia is a system of knowing where your body is in space…and of graceful, full body orchestration of movement ((2)).

Here’s more fascia logic from Breakingmuscle. Accepting life-accruing body injury will soon seem passé.

Fascia is Fluid 

It’s hard to understand how a support structure could be a fluid, we don’t make hi-rise buildings out of Jell-O. But it’s true… our mobility, integrity, and resilience are determined in large part by our gelatinous fascia and how well hydrated it is. In fact, what we call stretching a muscle is actually connective tissue gliding happily on gluey fascia.  Most injuries, tears and ruptures, are fascial injuries and occur most often when we get dehydrated.

Drinking more water is good but tangled, dried out fascia needs movement to remain fluid.

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Superficial Fasciae and Viscera – image from VancouverYogaReview.com

Variation Matters

Movement helps hydration but you need to make it different. Moving constantly in the same way can lead to joint erosion (like osteoarthritis).

When we exercise we are driving water out of tissue. Imagine stepping on a wet beach, pushing the water out of the sand and then picking up your foot so the water seeps back into the sand. Rest and rehydrate.

It’s All Connected

When something happens to one part of your body it typically affects every other part.

In the fascia-geek world (and for athletes), it’s the dreaded domino effect.   First, your neck gets injured, then then you have this nagging shoulder pain with all the extra typing and sitting you’re doing. As the years go by not only do you become  a ‘tight-shouldered person’, but you also suffer from occasional low back spasms and have developed plantar fasciitis ……..what you are experiencing is actually the long, slow drain of an unaddressed compensatory pattern on a body.

In our culture we call it getting old.

Fascia is Springy and Helps You Move

What do you get when you add fluidity to connectedness? Springiness!  When you run with healthy fascia the force you transmit into the ground gets returned to you through the whole tensional network of the fascia. It’s like you have a little built-in trampoline action going on.

Nourish the elastic quality of your fascia.

CHEN WS / Shutterstock.com
Image Source: CHEN WS / Shutterstock

Your Fascia is the Largest And Richest Sensory Organ of The Body

The most recent research shocker though has to be this.

Fascia has a more than six to ten times higher quantity of sensory nerve receptors than muscles.

Time to love your fascia.
 

RESOURCES

[1] Fascia, anatomytrains.com
[2] The Top 5 Ways Fascia Matters to Athletes, breakingmuscle.com
9 Yoga Poses to Keep Athletes Injury-Free
, yogajournal.com
Below the Skin – Fascia, coreconcepts.com
Fascia Science Made Simple, true.massage-research.com

 BOOKS on Amazon:
The Practice of Natural Movement: Reclaim Power, Health, and Freedom – Erwan Le Corre
The Roll Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Erase Pain, Improve Mobility, and Live Better in Your Body – Jill Miller