For years, they thought it was passive tissue.
(By they, we mean the mainstream medical community, of course.)
They thought that fascia were lifeless connective tissue simply meant to protect muscles from friction, to house nerves and blood vessels as they traveled through muscles, and to connect muscles to bones.
They do those things, of course. But fascia is so much more central to the process of being alive than researchers had previously given it credit for.
Fascia connects your connective tissue (bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, etc.) It’s like a thin film, mostly made of collagen, that runs in one continuous stretch all over your body. The word comes from Latin, meaning “band”, because it encloses and connects everything in your body like a band might.
While it’s healthy, fascia is stabilizing, separating, protecting, sliding, twisting, and transferring energy.
Conversely, when fascia isn’t healthy, it becomes sticky, flaky, and tight — thus preventing it from functioning flexibly.
When was the last time you had a muscle knot? It was actually caused by tight fascia…
We’re getting deep into this tissue today…
Fascia Creates Scar Tissue
In addition to absorbing the physical shock of impact, fascia forms scar tissue after an injury or surgery.
Scar tissue is one of the areas that can get tense or tight when fascia is unhealthy — because it’s made of fascia.
Fascia Is a Cell Highway
Cells travel through fascia to keep muscles working independently, and otherwise disperse organic information through all of your organ, muscle, and vascular systems. It’s an enormous communication system.
That’s why fascia can be affected by so many different body functions.
Trauma Can Cause Fascia Issues
Trauma — emotional or physical — can change the shapes of our bodies. For example, physical trauma permanently tightens or affects one area of the body… and because fascia is one connected, continuous membrane-like thread, that one change can ripple out and affect a seemingly unrelated area of the body.
Like if you pulled on a corner of your T-shirt and accidentally showed your belly button.
Emotional trauma can have effects on things like your posture, which means that if you’re standing cramped all day every day, your fascia is in a prolonged state of crumpling and sticking. (Once you know what’s happening, you can step in and hone your focus so that you’re aware of how your physical body is presenting.)
Emotional Unrest ITSELF Can be a Culprit
The actual consistency and biological footprint of burdensome emotions can build up in the body and travel through fascia, according to R. Louis Shultz and Rosemary Feitis.
When that happens, you feel tense, heavy, and restricted. Releasing and moving through negative emotions can help restore your fascia to health.
Fascia Can Get Dehydrated
Just like all of our other bodily functions, fascia needs water to survive and behave!
Without consistent hydration, fascia strands wither and become brittle, resulting in inflexibility and muscle pain during attempted movement. It can also get stuck more easily when it’s dried.
Your fascia will glide and slide if you keep yourself, and therefore it, hydrated.
Here are five ways you can keep your fascia healthy…
Stretching Every Day
Yoga works too, but the bare minimum for keeping your fascia healthy and happy should be stretching for ten minutes every day.
It’s been said that fascia can bear up to 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. That means that you’re going to have to take this slowly and gently.
If your fascia is tight and unwieldy, stretch with intention and purpose, and don’t force anything.
Foam rolling has gotten a lot of attention for providing targeted relief, and for good reason.
Often, the recommended way to treat amorphous muscular pain in the body is to use the foam roller to first identify where there are muscle knots, and tight and crinkled fascia, and then to slowly and gently roll the foam cylinder over/under that concentrated region for 60 seconds.
You’ll feel the knot unraveling.
Both steam and infrared saunas have been shown to be able to access the neuromuscular system and decrease muscle aches and cramps.
What’s happening there is that fascia likes heat — when you can soothe the fascia before it tightens up, especially after a workout, the fascia remains agile.
Like we said — fascia loves heat. It also loves movement. Sedentary lifestyles are one of the biggest contributors to painful, tightened, and hardened fascia.
As long as you’re also incorporating stretching into your routine, practice cardio exercises and let your body heat up!
Our bodies are so miraculous and complex… the more we learn about them, the better we can care for them. Right down to the band that bonds our corporeal forms.