What is fascia?
Fascia is a system of connective tissue that connects and penetrates every soft tissue of your body. It encases muscles, suspends organs inside your body, and looks a lot like a giant gluey, ‘spider web bodysuit’.
It is strong, fibrous, and is a critical part of your body’s shock absorption system.
What does it do?
Fascia provides a gliding surface for muscles to move across each other, it wraps around muscles and organs and it can respond to movement in your body. It can also move independently of your muscles and responds to impact, running, jumping, stress, and injury.
So, what’s the big deal?
Fascia impacts your movements for better or for worse.
For example, if you are sedentary or dehydrated, fascia feels like a layer of immobile concrete to a therapist (if you were ever wondering why stretching does not seem to help you….)
If you are an endurance athlete, marathoner, or road cyclist, then fascia is an integral part of the shock absorption mechanism of the stress of repetitive motion.
If you are injured or under chronic stress, fascia can contract and limit the way that you move (as a protective mechanism)
How does that work?
Try grabbing the front of your shirt and pulling it away from you. You will feel the tug at the back of your neck, the bottom of your shirt will pull up out of your waistband, and you will feel your sleeves slide up your arms. That is how fascia works. It is a lot like a tightfitting body suit from head to toe. It can work together with your joints and muscles to facilitate healthy movement, or when restricted, it can make you feel like you are trying to do gymnastics wearing tight jeans.
Mobilizing and ‘freeing up’ the fascia enables muscles to contract and expand freely and joints to move smoothly through their intended ranges of motion.
Fascial Stretch Therapy opens up joint spaces and allows your body’s synovial fluid (kind of like WD40) to move into the space bringing lubrication and nutrients to keep the articular cartilage healthy.
Where would I do something like that?
New Age Physio now offers Fascial Stretch Therapy as a complement to Physiotherapy and Massage.
If you like reading science-y stuff, here are a few great links:
Jim Marinow is a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) and a Fascial Stretch Therapist (FST). He practices at New Age Physio.