body

what the fascia?

It’s time to define my favorite F-word — FASCIA!

You may have heard the word fascia from your massage therapist, personal trainer, or health-nut friend (me!).

Fascia sticks to our muscles better than it’s definition sticks in our minds.

So here is your high-level overview of fascia from my three years of studying corrective exercise.

What is fascia?

Fascia falls under the category of soft tissue like muscles and organs. Many people consider fascia to be it’s own organ.

Fascia on raw chicken being stretched between meat and fat to make it more visible
Fascia on raw chicken.

Fascia is mostly made up of collagen protein. You’ll likely hear fascia referred to as connective tissue.

Imagine raw chicken. Fascia is the tissue that connects fat, meat, skin, and bones.

You’ve probably trimmed a chicken’s fascia that connected fat to muscle (or the meat we eat) without even realizing it was fascia.

What does myofascial mean?

The word “myo-fascial” refers to both fascia and muscles.

Myo=muscles.

Myofascial = muscles + fascia.

What does fascia do?

Fascia surrounds and supports everything in our body – muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, organs, etc.

Sausage meat going into casing using machine.
Ground sausage meat being formed into its casing.

Consider sausage. Think of how sausage meat is held together inside its casing. This is one of the simplest (and maybe grossest) analogies to describe how fascia works.

If sausage meat is like our muscle, then the casing is like our fascia holding it altogether.

Fascia holds everything in place and organizes your insides. Without fascia your heart could fall down to your stomach if you jumped up and down too much!

Why does fascia matter?

When fascia is functioning properly it slides between muscles as you move, flex, or stretch. If you experience chronic pain or limited range of motion, sticky fascia or adhesions may be part of the problem.

Another important component of fascia is water. Healthy fascia is well hydrated.

Drinking water alone isn’t enough to hydrate your fascia. Your fascia has to absorb the water you drink at a cellular level for you to feel the benefits.

If you’re drinking 2 liters of water and stretching everyday without noticing increased range of motion, keep in mind that traditional exercises were created before fascia was widely acknowledged or understood.

Zoomed in view of Fascia with quote, "The fascia forms the largest system in the body as it is the system that touches all other systems." -James L Oschman, PhD

Myofascial stretches were designed just a few decades ago to affect both the muscle (myo) and the fascia around that muscle.

Going back to the sausage analogy, these stretches target not only a muscle (the sausage meat) but also the fascia (the sausage casing) because muscle can only stretch as much as the fascia allows.

What happened to me?

I found my teacher when I had frozen shoulder. My range of motion was so limited that I couldn’t grab a glass off the shelf in my kitchen without intense pain.

I found pain relief by practicing myofascial stretches that targeted muscles in my neck, shoulders, chest, and arms.

Once the pain subsided I refocused on building strength in hard-to-activate back muscles.

As long as those back muscles stay strong and active, I won’t get frozen shoulder in the future.

Each exercise requires super precise positioning based on the anatomy of fascia in the human body.

It’s easy for me to cause more pain and injury to my overactive neck muscles without these specialized exercises.

What about you?

Scientists, just like you and your teachers, are now in agreement that yes, fascia does exist. And yes, fascia is present across the entire body.

It’s time now for your personal experience with fascia-focused techniques to show you a lot more than any study or article ever could.

Are you ready to incorporate fascia in your own workout program?

Do you have more questions about fascia?

Email me to setup a private session or sign up to receive announcements about future blog posts and in-person training opportunities.

Feel free to comment below to ask me anything.

Ready for more fascia?

I encourage you to google fascia and checkout the multitude of information about this expansive organ. Here are some links to get you started.

1.Wikipedia – Fascia

2. Mindpump Media – Eldoa Trainer Bryce Turner demonstrates myofascial stretches

3. Strolling Under the Skin – Real fascia in a human cadaver

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