Why is fascia so important to your health?
Updated: Apr 30, 2019
20 percent of your body mass is made up of fibrous connective tissue
The fascia is found throughout the body, it looks like a spider web, it looks random but it isn't according to a Dr Jean-Claude Guimberteau a hand surgeon who insert a electron microscope camera under the skin to a live patient. Fascia is found everywhere in the body in many shapes and consistencies, it located directly under the skin and deep fascia surrounding the organs, tendons, ligaments, muscles and the brain. Fascia is arranged in two layers and when you move those layers slide back and forth across each other. Can you seen the droplets of water in the fascia?
Fascia stores and move water in the body
It acts as a hydraulic pump, it is responsible for moving fluid around the body. Dr. Dana Cohen found to activate this system and optimise cellular hydration, you have to engage in physical movement. Hyaluronic acid acts as a lubricant for your connective tissue, it binds a "sponge - like network that binds large quantities of water."
So the less hyaluronic acid you have, the less mobile you would be, as your fascia will be drier, less supple and less able to slide properly. Low water content in the fascia makes it brittle and less elastic.
Experiments have shown manual fascia manipulation techniques can help increase water reserves and suppleness of the fascia, the force applied is key! It help press the old water out of the connective tissue, encouraging it to refill with fresh reserves. It seems to improving the tissues's ability to hold water.
Its play a role in pain, especially back pain.
Fascia is a interconnected system, and when it loses it suppleness pain can transfer to one region to another. So if you feel pain in an area, the actual cause and origin of that pain can often stems from a completely different area.
One of my guru is Tom Myres an expert on fascia. Who seen great long term results from patient with plantar fasciitis when treating the fascia in the lower leg, hamstrings and even the base of the neck. Back pain doesn't mean it's causing the pain, it maybe the arches of your feet, knees, hip or shoulders.
Jan Wilke ph.D., sports medicine experiments showed that moving the foot, the fascia in the lower thigh does glide back and forth and by stretching the leg, mobility in the upper cervical spine of the neck increases. "force transmission across the fascia connections" both vertically and horizontally.
Physical movement is essential for healthy fascia
Fascia is made out of fibroblasts, cells that produce collagen and other fibres. Collagen is what allows the body to close wounds and an important part of your body's healing system. Too much collagen can cause problems and excessive collagen growth is a result of inactivity. Researcher Robert Schleip found that exercise is extremely important to maintain healthy fascia function.
Without adequate physical movement and exercise the connective tissue structures starts to overgrow, losing flexibility and suppleness.
Tight fascia can even compress nerves and muscles, resulting in pain either at the site or elsewhere (force transmission)
Dr Helene Langevin discovered that healthy back fascia it can move about 75 percent of its length, in people with back pain this movement is reduced to about 50 percent. Langevin believe excess collagen production is responsible for this reduction in the fascia layers ability to slide. In animal experiments it showed that exercise can contacteract this overproduction, further confirming Schleip's finding.
The importance of exercise recovery
With regular exercise, the fibroblasts increase their ability to produce fresh collagen. It can improve the quality of your fascia in as little as 3 day of active movements. If the tissue is firm and stuck together due to excess collagen production, caused by inactivity or injury (if not rehab properly) it can take up to one year to completely regenerate.
With exercise we cause micro tears in the fascia (just like muscle when doing strength training). To allow the fascia to regenerate and heal, we should recuperate for 2-3 days after vigorous exercise.
Research has shown that your fascia is a very important component in the body. Moving is the way to keep this tissue healthy, so take the stairs, stretch after sitting for too long, try different exercises and walk more.
A rewrite of marcela - Take control of your health "what you need to know about your fascia"
Functional Atlas of the Human Fascial System, Carla Stecco MD
If wanted to find out more about fascia research, click on the video link below.