What is fascia and why should you care?
Fascia is a connective tissue in your body and is the most prevalent tissue that connects to every system in your body. To explain tissue, we have 4 types in the body: connective (fascia), epithelial (covering such as skin), muscle tissue (striated & smooth, we have more than 600!), and nervous tissue. Fascia is a woven continuous web that supports all of the tissues throughout the entire body. I have another word, myofascia! Myofascia refers to the fascia that wraps and supports your muscles. (myo-muscle, fascia-connective tissue)
The structure of fascia is always under a normal amount of tension, similar to air inside of a balloon. The body stays in balance by normal tension in the fascia, muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves and organs. Fascia can transmit forces to surrounding layers of fascia, causing a chain reaction that spreads to structures all through the body. Much like pulling on a corner strand of a spider web affects the entire web, what happens in one area of our body can have an effect on every other part.
Your brain can communicate to all its cells simultaneously on how to change shape, move, and adapt to outside conditions. An example would be sitting in a chair, the body adapts to the surface of the chair. If you sit too long, the body communicates to the brain to change positions. If you do not change positions enough, your fascia thickens in the areas under prolonged stress. This thickening is the body’s response to the stress in the myofascia. The body feels the need to strengthen the area that is under stress and deposits collagen to do so. This causes a loss in flexibility due to the stiffness of the collagen. Scars are an example of collagen.
The best way to counteract these collagen deposits is….you guessed it: STRETCHING.
Think about wearing a compression garment that is too tight, and maybe changing the color of your skin below the garment. Fascia can be too tight like that too. You may feel this way all over, or in a certain area of your body. Restrictions in your fascia can cause lack of mobility, decrease power, strength and speed. You may also feel sore, achy and bruised (even though there are no apparent bruises). These feelings can be caused by dehydration, sleep deprivation, nutrition or hormonal imbalances, among other reasons.
You need to take care of all parts of your body, in the same way. The fascial system is integrated throughout your body and your joint, organ, muscle health and staying injury free is dependent upon this system being healthy. Fascia is the most innervated and sensitive tissue in the body that recoils with every movement. Without it, your body would crumble. This is why you should care!