What is Fascia?
Updated: Jan 14, 2019
What is Fascia and Fascial Stretch Therapy?
Let’s start this conversation with an example. Imagine taking a twizzler, and wrapping it in a gel covered saran wrap. Now take a bundle of these wrapped twizzlers, and put them all together, surrounded in another gel covered saran wrap. This is a representation of your muscles. To get really technical, it would consist of multiple of these layers and get much more complex, but we will keep it simple from here.
The single twizzler represents a single muscle fiber, and the individual gelled plastic wrap is your fascia. Combining all of these then creates a full muscle (seen above), and the outer plastic layering is another layer of your fascia. So what does all this candy talk mean?
Your muscles are all connected through fascia, and like anything that is continuously connected it will only function as well as the rest of the chain. Imagine one area of these said twizzlers loses its gel covering and there is now an area that is covered only in saran wrap. With no lubricant to create glide, the twizzler will not be able to move as well, feeling stuck and restricted within the bundle. Well, your fascia works in the same way. When there is an injury, a postural compensation, a traumatic experience, or just mere lack of movement to an area (sit much?), the fascia also becomes less fluid, or hydrated. Now your tissues are adhering to one another and creating that “stuck” feeling. And as we said before, it is continuously connected, so something that may be adhered in your left shoulder could actually be causing the pain in your right knee. Weird, but true. So, how do we help this?
That’s where Assisted Fascial Stretching and Stretched come into play!
At Stretched, we use a table-based stretching technique to target your fascia. When you are stretching by yourself, you’re really only trying to lengthen the muscle, which inevitably goes right back to its stuck position. Not only that, but simple static stretching may just aggravate a muscle that doesn’t need to be stretched. With Assisted Fascial Stretching, we are focusing on the fascial tissue, otherwise known as that gelled saran wrap layer that surrounds the muscle. If we can hydrate this layer, help it create more glide, and allow the muscles to work better within the tissue, then there are going to be better results. A few of the benefits include improved Range of Motion, increased Flexibility, relief of Tension, quicker Recovery, and more! There is much more to the body than bones and muscles, and it’s time to start recognizing that.
More on Fascia:
There are 4 types of Fascia:
Superficial Fascia – found just below the skin and above the muscle.
Deep Fascia – found in the muscle tissues, covering each layer of muscles and separating them.
Visceral Fascia – surrounding the lungs, heart, and organs.
Meningeal Fascia – surrounds the nervous system and Brain.
Based on the four types above, you can see that fascia truly is everywhere. On top of this, it is home to some of the most important components/functions of the body.
- Nerves end in the fascia, meaning the fascia holds your sensory nerves and dictates what you feel and the sensations with those feelings.
- Proprioception – otherwise known as the ability to know where you are in space – starts with the fascia. Balance, Coordination, and Reflexes all rely on proprioception.
- Fascia also affects Interoception – which is the awareness of ones own internal body state. Having a good sense of interoception can help an individual understand their body better and it’s specific needs.
- Fascia is involved in thermoregulation, circulation, and lymphatic flow.
- Allows myofascial force transmission – muscles can transmit force longitudinally across joint.
Fascia is what we call Viscoelastic, in that it displays the qualities of both solid and liquid.
- Viscosity is a measure of a liquids resistance to flow (honey has high viscosity, water has low viscosity). We want our fascia to be on the lower end, that way it can flow better and allow us to move more fluidly. Heating fascia (temperature, movement, manual therapy) will lower its viscosity.
- Elasticity is the ability of a solid material to return to its original shape after a force has been applied. Unhealthy fascia will not return as easily to its appropriate shape, while healthy fascial tissue will move back to its original form.
The combination of viscosity and elasticity makes fascia Viscoelastic.
- Healthy Tissue = Good Viscoelasticity.
Fascia is continuously being studied by scientists and anatomists all over the world, and more and more research is displaying its vital importance to the body. Keep checking out our blog posts to hear more about new Fascial findings!