Under your skin, encasing your body and webbing its way through your insides like spider webs, is fascia. Fascia is made up primarily of densely packed collagen fibers that create a full body system of sheets, chords and bags that wrap, divide and permeate every one of your muscles, bones, nerves, blood vessels and organs. Every bit of you is encased in it. You’re protected by fascia, connected by fascia and kept in taut human shape by fascia.
This is a critical issue for folks with EDS who have defective collagen. Normally we only think of defective ligaments and tendons that allow joints to move out of place, but defects in the ubiquitous fascia could have even greater impact on our overall health,
It’s so expansive and intertwined it resists the medical standard of being cut up and named for textbook illustrations. Besides that, its function is tricky, more subtle than that of the other systems. For the majority of medical history it’s been assumed that bones were our frame, muscles the motor, and fascia just packaging.
Fascia is a major player in every movement you make and every injury you’ve ever had, but until five years ago nobody paid it any attention.
What exactly does it do? It wraps around each of your individual internal parts, keeping them separate and allowing them to slide easily with your movements. It’s strong, slippery and wet. It creates a sheath around each muscle; because it’s stiffer, it resists over-stretching and acts like an anatomical emergency break. It connects your organs to your ribs to your muscles and all your bones to each other. It structures your insides in a feat of engineering, balancing stressors and counter-stressors to create a mobile, flexible and resilient body unit. It generally keeps you from being a big, bone-filled blob.
“Fascia is the missing element in the movement/stability equation,”
Fascia can contract and feel and impact the way you move. It’s our richest sense organ, it possess the ability to contract independently of the muscles it surrounds and it responds to stress without your conscious command
Unfortunately, it’s very unlikely that your fascia maintains its optimal flexibility, shape or texture. Lack of activity will cement the once-supple fibers into place. Chronic stress causes the fibers to thicken in an attempt to protect the underlying muscle. Poor posture and lack of flexibility and repetitive movements pull the fascia into ingrained patterns. Adhesions form within the stuck and damaged fibers like snags in a sweater, and once they’ve formed they’re hard to get rid of.
How to Care for Your Fascia
MOVE IT OR LOSE IT: Sticky adhesions form between fascial surfaces that aren’t regularly moved, and over time these adhesions get strong enough to inhibit range of motion.
STRETCH YOUR MUSCLES: When your muscles are chronically tight the surrounding fascia tightens along with them. Over time the fascia becomes rigid, compressing the muscles and the nerves.
STRETCH YOUR FASCIA: Once your fascia has tightened up, it doesn’t want to let go. Because the fascia can withstand up to 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, you’re not going to force your way through, so stretch gently.
RELAX: Fifteen to 20 minutes in a warm Epsom salt bath can coax tight fascia to loosen up, releasing your muscles from their stranglehold. Make sure to follow it up with 10 minutes of light activity to keep blood from pooling in your muscles.
Another description: Fascia – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
fasciae are dense regular connective tissues, containing closely packed bundles of collagen fibers oriented in a wavy pattern parallel to the direction of pull. Fasciae are consequently flexible structures able to resist great unidirectional tension forces until the wavy pattern of fibers has been straightened out by the pulling force. These collagen fibers are produced by the fibroblasts located within the fascia. Fasciae are similar to ligaments and tendons as they are all made of collagen except that ligaments join one bone to another bone, tendons join muscle to bone and fasciae surround muscles or other structures.
Fasciae are normally thought of as passive structures that transmit mechanical tension generated by muscular activities or external forces throughout the body.
Some research suggest that fasciae might be able to contract independently and thus actively influence muscle dynamics.