Have you ever heard of fascia? In the physical medicine world, fascia has a lot of buzz right now. We have known about fascia for a long time now, but are only now starting to realize how amazing and important it truly is. If the word sounds familiar to you, you are probably thinking of terms like ‘plantar fasciitis’ or ‘myofascial release’. And if you haven’t heard this term, well you’re in the right place!
Fascia is connective tissue, primarily collagen, that runs throughout the entire body. It attaches, separates, and supports everything in the body. There are multiple layers of fascia from superficial to very deep within the body, each part doing its own job but also working together as a whole. Some people describe fascia as a spider web of connective tissue that covers you from head to toe. Others call it the ‘Saran wrap’ of the human body. A good visual is picturing an orange. It is one individual piece of fruit at first glance, but when you peel the outer layer, you will find neatly wrapped compartments on the inside too, divided by thin layers of tissue.
Fascia is the reason your stomach stays where your stomach should be! And other organs respectfully… Fascia connects muscles to bones (yes, tendons are a part of the fascial system). Fascia cushions your vertebrae (yes, discs are a part of the fascial system, too). And, fascia is a large part of how we move freely through space, or, potentially, how our movement becomes painful and restricted. Fascia is everywhere! In fact, it is likely because of this fact that it was over looked in the past.
When you dissect a human cadaver, you are constantly cutting through and scraping away the fascia in order to view the human body as most of us recognize it. It took researchers a while before realizing that this fascia plays a crucial role in our health and well being. Fascia needs to be unrestricted and ‘juicy’ (picture a wet sponge vs. a dry brittle one) in order to do its job. Without healthy fascia our range of motion is limited, we are injury prone, and have diminished proprioception (body awareness, balance, etc.)
So, even though you don’t know it’s there, fascia is playing a big role in your health and wellness- treat it with love.