Many people suffer from long-term injuries that never seem to get better no matter how many different treatments they try or doctors they visit. The reason behind many of these types of injuries may stem from the fascia, a two millimeter layer of tissue that is located just below the skin.
What is fascia?
A lot of people will ask themselves “What is fascia?” or “How come I have not heard about this before?” This is because while fascia has always been apart of the human body, research has only recently begun to fully understand fascia and its effects.
What is the role of fascia?
The role of fascia in the body is to hold everything together. It is made of a collection of cells and fibers that are commonly referred to as “connective tissue.” This tissue helps to keep all of the organs in place so they all do not drop to the bottom of the abdominal cavity when people move. Fascia is also located around every muscle and acts like a stocking to keep all of the muscle fibers in place.
Fascia is more than just a material to hold organs and muscles in place. The fascial tissues have a lot of special sensory cells located within its tissue to sense movement and propioception1.
How does fascia become injured?
Similar to the rest of the body, chronic inactivity can affect the fascia. Bad posture and lack of exercise cause muscles to contract and assume positions of minimal stress. Since the fascia is attached to the muscle, it will tighten as well. Fascia also has the ability to become caught itself while retracting and cause “sticking points.” The top two reasons for the creation of these areas of adhesions are dehydration and inactivity2. When someone tries to move, the muscle and fascia will extend and contract, but when the matted down sections cannot move as well and the sensory receptors will fire signals and will manifest as pain.
How can I prevent fascial adhesions?
There are several methods that people can use to prevent fascial injuries and matting and treat preexisting adhesions. Hydration is key to fascial health. Drinking water will hydrate the fascial tissue, improve its motion, and prevent adhesions from forming. Second, moving and being active will stretch the muscle and the surrounding fascia, preventing contraction and adhesion development. People can also try to break up the contracted fascia themselves. Using a foam roller will loosen the fascia and allow it to return into is natural state. Some people also can visit a Physiotherapist or masseuse who specialize in myofascial release to physically break up the tissue3.
Why should we pay attention to our fascia?
Fascia is important to the body regarding keeping its muscles and organs in place, but through dehydration and inactivity, the tissue can contract and develop painful adhesions, causing people pain as they try to move their body through these areas. This pain will continue to hamper people until they repair the damage tissue. Hydration, keeping an active lifestyle, and physically breaking up the tissue by massage will rid the body of these adhesions and help millions of people to suffer from chronic soft tissue injuries live pain-free lives.
- Yahia, L., Rhalmi, S., Newman, N., Isler, M., “Sensory innervation of human thoracolumbar fascia. An immunohistochemical study” Acta Orthopaedica. 1992. 63(2). 195-197
- Scleip, R. “Fascial plasticity: A new neurobiological explanation” Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies. 7(1). 11-19
- Stecco, L.“Fascial manipulation for musculoskeletal pain.” Padova: Piccin, 2004.