What is Fascia?

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Have you heard of Fascia?

A few clients this week have brought up the topic of Fascia. It is a buzz word that has been around for a while but what exactly is it, and should we all be paying more attention to this often-overlooked aspect of our anatomy?

Everyone has a 3D fascial system which surrounds and protects all body structures together under the skin. It is a head to toe, inside to out, all-encompassing and interwoven system of fibrous connective tissue and fluid found throughout the body. Fascia covers and interpenetrates every muscle, bone, nerve, artery and vein, as well as all our internal organs including the heart, lungs, brain and spinal cord.

If you observe a raw chicken breast up close you can see fascia. It is the smooth, shiny white layer wrapping the muscle tissue. This is similar to how it is in humans too.

 

Image result for human fascia

Why is Fascia important?

Our fascia also plays an important supportive role to the musculoskeletal system by enabling us to perform functional activities like going from sitting to standing and being able to walk, jump and run. Blood, nerves, and muscles are enveloped and penetrated by fascia, allowing your muscles and organs to glide smoothly against each other. In healthy conditions the fascial system is relaxed and can provide cushioning and support throughout our system allowing us to move without restriction or pain.

However, if we suffer from poor postural habits, trauma, injury (physical or emotional) the fascial layers stiffen, become restricted and create unnecessary tension when we move.

Fascial adhesions and distortions can develop which can cause poor blood flow, weaker nerve impulses, limited flexibility and range of motion, and a host of other physical ailments. Moreover, it can often be an undiagnosed cause of painful musculoskeletal conditions and mobility problems.

How can Massage help Fascia?

Massage therapy play an important role in keeping our connective tissue hydrated, mobile and un-stuck. Hands on techniques used in massage works on fascia by unwinding fascial patterns and breaking up adhesions, often resulting in rebalancing posture and relieving pain. Specific techniques are used by our massage therapists such as myofascial release and passive stretching which focus on gently manipulating and stretching the fascia as well as the muscles, tendons and other connective tissues.

How else can I keep my Fascia healthy?

Wow isn’t is FASCIA-NATING! Maintaining healthy, moving fascia is essential to release and encourage movement and ease, ultimately reducing discomfort.

As you can see your fascia is a vastly underestimated component of your body. The good news is its simple to optimise the function and health of your connective tissue by following these simple steps:

  • Move! Lack of movement in all planes of motion can lead to the build-up of adhesions between fascial layers and cause tension overtime. If your muscles get tight with exercise or when sitting at your desk for long periods of time, the surrounding fascia will also tighten, causing pain.
  • Allow recovery time after intense exercise. As you exercise, small tears in the fascia will occur (as well as other connective tissues) and time is needed to allow the fascia to regenerate and heal. You should aim to recuperate for 2-3 days after vigorous exercise.
  • Try not to stay in one position for too long, or your body will adjust to supporting that position. So, if you work on a computer, try taking quick breaks to move regularly throughout the day.
  • Keep Hydrated! Fascia is made mostly of water therefore keeping hydrated and drinking water throughout the day can help keep your fascia fluid
  • Relax! – When your relaxed your fascia is relaxed so find some time for relaxation in your busy lives.
  • Stretch as regular stretching reduces tension and fascial restriction, which will keep you in tip-top shape.

If you would like to learn more and experience fascial release then simply book in with Steph!

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