The Facts About Fascia

The Facts About Fascia

photo credit: Janusz Jurek for New Scientist

What is Fascia?

You can think of fascia as an internal, dense, mesh-like tissue that surrounds and supports your body and everything in it: muscles, organs, bones, nerve fibers and blood vessels. It keeps everything in place, providing internal structure. Fascia contains nerves, making it almost as sensitive as skin.

Fascia is made up of layers with fluid in between - the Superficial layer is right under the skin and is made from a dense network of elastic fibers. It’s very stretchable and encases the entire body. The next layer is the Deep layer. It encases muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, joints, nerve pathways and blood vessels. It has a high content of collagen fibers so it’s stable and doesn’t stretch much. The innermost layer is the Visceral layer which surrounds and suspends the internal organs, keeping them in place. 

Healthy Fascia

When fascia is healthy and performing optimally, it's smooth, supple and flexible. It stretches when you move (to different degrees depending on the layer) and allows muscles, joints and organs to slide against each other without friction or tears. It allows muscles to contract and stretch by holding them together. Fascia is mostly made of collagen, but it also contains elastin and hyaluronic acid - so when it’s healthy your skin just may appear smoother and juicier.

Unhealthy Fascia

When tight and not functioning optimally, fascia can thicken and dry out, becoming sticky. It no longer glides, but instead tightens around muscles - limiting range of movement, reducing muscle function and causing painful knots to develop. Visually, tight fascia contributes to the appearance of cellulite as well as facial tension and drooping.

What causes Fascia to tighten? 

Anything that causes inflammation such as inactivity, repetitive movement and chronic stress will damage fascia. Surgery and injury are other causes. Additionally, dehydration, unhealthy foods, poor posture and lack of sleep all contribute to unhealthy fascia.  

What can I do about it?

Start with simple lifestyle changes. Stay active - walking, yoga, dancing, tennis and dynamic stretching are all recommended. Keep hydrated - remember to sip water throughout the day. Diet is key and the #1 recommendation is to avoid or reduce sugar intake as much as you can. Eat lots of fresh foods and make sure you’re getting enough protein. Do whatever you can to mitigate stress - meditation and breathwork really help.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts on fascia, where we’ll explore other techniques that have helped us to free our fascia.

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