What is fascia?
Fascia, a fibrous tissue, ‘connects every cell’ in the body. The connective tissue creates a 3-dimensional web that runs from the head to the toes of our bodies. Every muscle, muscle fiber, bone, blood vessel and nerve in our bodies is covered by fascia. It directly affects all of our body systems, including our neurological and muscular systems.
When you look at a piece meat, such as chicken breasts or beef, you will often see a white, sometimes transparent, web interwoven through the tissue. This is fascia.
It’s still difficult to visualize? Imagine an orange. Each segment is separated by a strong, clear sheet of tissue. This same tissue is used to further separate the juice, forming the pulp. It is exactly the same for us. Facias are what connect us, but we are still separated.
Facia: The virtues
Fascia is composed of three things:
- Elastic fibers – Allowing for change
- Collagen fibers, which are very hard, provide our support and strength.
- A ground substance that has a fluid, gelatinous texture when it is healthy. This fluidity allows organs and muscles glide over one another without friction.
There is a superficial fascia that lies just below the skin, and underneath this there is deep fascia which is a more rigid and tighter version. These fascia contain our blood vessels, muscles, and other vital organs. Another type of fascia forms our body cavities and lines. It is one substance that guides, supports and stabilizes our bodies and their functions.
Over 10 years I was a massage therapist. Learning about fascia was a turning point in my life. It changed how I saw the body, its posture, and form.
The organ of form
Fascia is our framework…our organ of form. Fascia organizes us into a form that functions and moves through our lives. It can be helpful to think and work with fascia to develop a sense of ‘wholeness and ‘connection’ to fully appreciate its unique, often overlooked importance.
Yoga’s value: yoga can change your body and your behavior.
Yoga is one example. Our fascia holds psychological and physiological trauma. We need to treat our fascia with patience.
As I said, a large part of fascia is made of ground substance. This jelly-like layer feels the best when it is hydrated and juicy. Our fascia can become stiff, weak, and dehydrated if there is a restriction in the body. Yoga, especially slow-paced yoga like Yin Yoga, can help to improve our connective tissue. You can encourage relaxation and restore your fascial fluidity!
What will happen if we work on our fascia through diet and bodywork?
Fascia and support
Happy fascia is fluid. It is strong and springy. Happy fascia is able to return the force that we send when we run or walk. This makes us feel lighter and more comfortable. Our bodies and muscles will use less energy and work more efficiently, and we will require less energy to accomplish the same tasks. We will find new strength, flexibility, and space.
Fascia and our joints
The ligaments and tendons support our joints. This is also known as connective tissue. Ligaments link our bones together, while tendons connect our muscles to our bones. Because there is less blood flow, they can become rigid and can be difficult to heal from injuries.
Our ligaments and tendon must be healthy in order to keep our joints mobile and healthy. To help fascia, we need to stretch slowly. If given enough time and space, tendons and ligaments will relax and let go, creating more space and increasing strength, and encouraging a greater flexibility.
Fascia and our position
My teacher told me once to imagine a sheet laid out on the ground as I learned about fascia and massage. You can see the tension lines and folds by pulling on a portion of the sheet. This is how our fascial grid tension affects us at a 3-dimensional level. An injury to our feet can cause problems up to our necks. Yin yoga is a great way to get rid of these wrinkles and correct your posture.
The mind-body connection and form
A perfect body is not possible. It must work and move perfectly without pain, restriction or postural habits. How we live our lives, what we think and how our emotions affect our fascia.
Our neurological system and fascia
Recently, I read an article and was interviewed by Tom Myers, my fascia guru! It really helped me realize how closely fascia is linked to our neurological system. Not only do our postural habits, environmental factors, and brain chemistry affect our form, but also our thoughts and emotions.
Fascia (connective tissue), has been with us since the beginning. In fact, our fascia guided our form as a tiny embryo in mother’s womb.