What is Fascia?

sliced citrus fruit, lemon, lime, blood orange

At AMF, you’ll hear us use the term “Fascia” quite a bit.  Maybe you’ve heard this word used in other healthcare settings and aren’t quite sure what they’re talking about.  We believe that understanding the “issues in your tissues” starts with getting to know this extremely important connective matrix and how it impacts your stability, mobility, and ultimately your recovery/preventative routine.

Fascia is “the biological fabric that holds us together…the 3-D spider web of fibrous, gluey, and wet proteins that binds them all (cells, muscles, organs, etc.) together in their proper placement.”1

To put it another way, envision with me a juicy orange, which you have just peeled. Each segment is held to the next segment by connective fibers, and further, each little “pocket” of juice is encased in connective tissue.  Our bodies work the same way, encased in layers of connective tissue that group large sections of our organs and body cavities together, wrapped and connected all the way down to the individual cell. 

This amazing web of connective tissue literally connects every part and piece of our body to the next, and when one area of the body becomes strained or injured, that deviation effects the entire system.  Likewise, in our day to day moving around, we tend to think of our body as doing disjointed actions.  For example, I’m using my arm to brush my teeth, I’m using my fingers to type this paragraph. The truth is, every move that we make creates a virtual chain reaction through the tissues.  Repetitive movements, postural patterns, and even latent emotional traumas do not just impact the area where they occurred, but our entire selves.

Manual therapy is a very necessary component of maintaining the health of the fascia.  Above all else, fascia is a fluid connective structure.  Where we get those pesky “knots,” or stuck feelings in our body is a result of our fascia becoming stuck, bound up in excessive collagen and elastin fibers.  These stuck areas are dehydrated as well.  A bodyworker, using specific techniques, breaks up the stuck areas and allows fluidity, hydration, and normalization to come back, redistributing the bound up fibers into the body to serve other purposes. 

Revitalizing and unwinding restrictions in one area of the body has an effect on the whole body, and as we so often find out, where it hurts is not the epicenter of the dysfunction. Anatomists, medical professionals, and therapists who are aware of the fascial network, approach the client’s healthcare differently, and we believe more effective in helping the client recover.

1Myers, Thomas. (2018) Fascia. www.anatomytrains.com/fascia. 29 January 2018.