First, many think of fascia as a glorified body stocking – a seamless piece of tissue that wraps you just underneath the skin. It is true and this is the superficial fascia. There is more to it than that though. It is a richly multi-dimensional tissue that forms your internal soft tissue architecture.
From the superficial fascia, it dives deep and forms the pods Imagine what it looks like when you bite into a wedge of orange and then look at those individually wrapped pods of juice. We’re like that too! Fascia also connects muscle to bone (tendons are considered a part of the fascial system), and bone to bone (ligaments are also considered a part of the fascial system), slings your organ structures, cushions your vertebrae (yep, your discs are considered a part of this system, too), and wraps your bones.
Imagine for a moment you could remove every part of you that is not fascia. You would have a perfect 3D model of exactly what you look like. Not just in recognisable ways like your posture or facial features, but also the position of your liver, and the zig-zig your clavicle takes from that break you had as a kid, and how your colon wraps. To say it’s everywhere is far from over-stating things.
Fascia has been rather overlooked in the past but there is new information emerging.
It seems strange to understand how a support structure could be a fluid structure but it’s true. Juicy fascia is happy fascia. It’s a bit like a sponge. When a sponge dries out it becomes brittle and hard. It can easily be broken with only a little force because of how crispy it has become. However, when a sponge is wet and well hydrated it gets springy and resilient. You can crush it into a little ball and it bounces back. You can wring it and twist it, but it is difficult to break.
That is what we’re like that on the inside, keeping our fascia hydrated is so important. What we call “stretching a muscle” is actually the fibres of the connective tissue (collagen) gliding along one another on the mucous-y proteins. Depending on their chemistry, this can glue layers together when water is absent, or allow them to skate and slide on one another when hydrated. If we get “dried out” we are more brittle and are at much greater risk of injury.
You would think drinking more water would be the answer and yes this is important but only if the water can get to where it’s needed. To get it to where it’s needed we need a good irrigation system. If the vessels are kinked like a hose the fluid won’t get to where it is needed. You have to get to work on your soft tissue to untangle those gluey bits and that’s what I try and do with the use of the spiky balls and foam rollers.
We need get more juicy as this will effect the fascia and allow the muscles to have to work less hard and this in turn means we can use less muscle power and fatigue less rapidly. For the athletes amongst you is will improve your performance.
The fascia is a sensory organ too and is packed with sensory nerve receptors. So this makes them a system for
proprioception. That is when receptors in the muscles tell the brain where a limb is in space. Lack of proprioception is a major cause of falls in the elderly and is a use it or lose it thing. So certainly something to work on. There are other things you can do to help your proprioception like standing on one e.g. which is why I always incorporate balance into my classes
There’s quite a lot to chew on there, it’s the tip of an iceberg. So hopefully you will appreciate why I do what I do in my classes now strange as it sometimes seems!