Unless you have and have always had a perfect, pain-free body, you probably want to learn about how to improve your physical health.
A big part of this is understanding fascia. You may be wondering, “What is fascia and how does it relate to my particular issue?”
The answer is more complex than you think. To give you a hint, fascia is everywhere in your body.
Keep reading to find out about this essential part of your being so you can care for it to improve your health.
What Is Fascia?
As stated, fascia is everywhere in your body. This means between muscles, organs, blood vesselsm etc.
But what is it?
Fascia (fah-shah) means “band”, “strip”, or “ribbon” in Latin. It’s easier to think of it as a sheet, however, as it’s a giant interconnected webbing, of sorts.
Fascia is a type of connective tissue that’s made up of collagen fibers. These fibers are spiraled helixes, which allows for a wide range of motions.
Some professionals break down fascia into different categories, like subcutaneous fascia for example. This makes understanding it a bit confusing, as separate names suggest they are separate structures.
Rather, the names are based on a specific area the one, giant fascia covers.
If you pinch the skin on the back of your hand, the skin stretches but doesn’t come off, right? This is because of the fascia directly beneath the skin layers.
Similarly, if you’ve ever been stretching your leg and felt pain in your back or leg, fascia is responsible. It interconnects all of our systems, all of our cells, which is why issues in one area of the body may affect other areas.
What Is the Role of Fascia?
We slightly hinted at its function while describing it.
Fascia provides the connection between cells and tissues throughout the body, enhancing function and support.
Before realizing the role of fascia in the body, we thought that our skin, muscles, and bones were responsible for keeping us upright. In reality, the fascia is doing most of the work.
That said, there’s still a lot we don’t know about fascia. It’s complex enough to be its own system alongside the skeletal or muscular system, but we don’t know enough about it yet.
For instance, it connects all of the cells in your body from head to toe. This means there’s the potential that fascia has something to do with the nervous system, right?
Regardless of the “what ifs”, what we do know is that fascia allows our body to twist, bend, and move pain-free…if it’s healthy.
Here are reasons it might be unhealthy and symptoms that that’s the case.
What Is “Unhealthy Fascia”?
Okay, unhealthy fascia isn’t exactly the right word. That somewhat implies the entire fascia is damaged or something, which isn’t correct.
Rather, we’re talking about areas of the fascia being weak or injured.
This happens from:
- Lack of physical activity
- Poor sleep
- Poor posture
- Unhealthy eating
A lot of these issues are all too common. 80% of working Americans say they are usually dehydrated, for example.
How do you know if you have problematic areas of your fascia? You’ll probably notice a lack of range of motion and discomfort.
Some other symptoms are:
- Asymmetrical body (i.e. a lean to one side)
- Discomfort in different parts of your body (unrelated to specific injury spot)
- Lack of flexibility and/or strength
- Lack of range of motion (mobility)
Wait, cellulite? How does that happen?
First, you should know that because fascia is essentially made up of fibrous collagen, it can tighten up and become stiff. Then, it doesn’t have the same stretchy mobility as it did.
This is how “knots” form. These are the spots on your body that may sound crunchy when getting massaged. It’s the fascia tensing up — not the muscle.
Similarly, if your fascia is tight (i.e. stretched out), the fat underneath it will be pressed up against it and against your skin. It’s like how wearing tight clothes (i.e. clothes that are stretched out) makes the shape of your body parts more visible compared to lose clothes.
It’s easy to see that having issues with your fascia can lead to a variety of undesired and uncomfortable issues. Luckily, there are ways to repair it and keep it healthy.
Why Should You Take Care of Your Fascia?
Aside from wanting to avoid the symptoms previously, there are a few more reasons why you should take care of this giant sheet of collagen in your body.
Studies show that fascia is involved with replenishing each cell in your body, including ones involved with disease and cancer.
This means that caring for your fascia could help you avoid or deal with disease and cancer more effectively.
Additionally, when you keep your fascia relaxed and unknotted, you’re allowing blood to flow as it should. This will lead to faster recovery from exercise and injury.
Since we don’t yet fully know the extent to which fascia affects our wellbeing, we should assume it plays a big role (it covers every centimeter of our bodies, after all). That means taking care of it.
How Do You Take Care of Your Fascia?
Three of the most important aspects of taking care of yourself in general (mind or body) is getting enough rest, water, and healthy food.
This means getting your daily allotment of sleep, fluids, and the vitamins, minerals, and beneficial properties you need from food. Not taking care of yourself in any of these areas can lead to stress, injury, and even illness.
Otherwise, you should engage in regular movement and proper posture.
This includes stretching and foam rolling. Doing both of these things are forms of myofascial release, which means it relaxes and heals your fascia.
There are plenty of reasons to stretch regularly, no matter what your level of physical activity is.
It isn’t all about movement, however. Something sedentary you can do for your fascia and overall wellbeing is to take regular trips to the sauna.
Saunas increase your pulse, causing your blood to flow faster and your body to heal quicker.
Fix That Fascia, Fast-a
Now that you know more about your fascia, you should feel more informed about your body.
Make healthy decisions and start taking care of your fascia. You may be surprised how quickly your health issues start to dissolve.
We offer assisted active stretches that can help you on your journey. Check out what we have to offer and keep reading our blog.