Your skin keeps you together in one part, but it doesn’t work alone. Fascia, a thin connective tissue, holds your organs in place. Your muscles, organs, blood vessels, nerves, and everything in between is packed together by the fascia – think of it like plastic wrap for your insides. Without the fascia, your body wouldn’t have a definite shape.
Like the skin, fascia is made of multiple layers. A superficial fascia lies right beneath the skin. Next comes a deep fascia, which is made of complex connective sheets and bands. According to the journal Radiology, fascia wraps the muscles in gray felt-like membranes. Finally, the third layer is a subserous fascia, which suspends organs within their cavities.1
5 Facts About Fascia
The fascia is made of mechanoreceptors. Essentially, it’s like one big communicator. And while science is only starting to understand the fascia, there are 5 things we do know.
1. It Needs To Be Touched
This might sound weird, but hear us out. The mechanoreceptors are highly responsive to manipulation. The fascia is sensitive to touch, which can be administered in the form of massages, foam rolling, stretching, and heat.
When the mechanoreceptors are stimulated, the parasympathetic nervous system is aroused. This creates a state of deep relaxation and calmness. The stimulation also positively affects the central nervous system and benefits muscle movement.2 No wonder massages and yoga feel so therapeutic!
2. Manipulation Can Change The Skin
The more fascia is moved and touched, the more the tissue will change. This alters the way fat is spread out under the skin. Again, it’s all because of those mechanoreceptors.3
To use this to your benefit, focus on areas of the body with wrinkles or stretch marks. A trained myofascial therapist can show you the right moves and massages.
3. Fascia Works With Your Muscles
Because fascia contains smooth muscle cells, its movement closely resembles muscle movement. The way you move determines the shape of the fascia.4 This does not mean fascia is muscle, however. Muscles contract while fascia simply covers and connects them.
4. It Hardens Without Movement
Need another reason to get moving? When fascia is moved or touched, it softens up and becomes more fluid. But when it sits still, fascia becomes solid. As fascia hardens, you’ll feel just
Still, fascia can cause pain and discomfort.5 To soften the fascia, go for a massage or try stretching exercises.
5. Fascia Is Mostly Made Of Collagen
Collagen is the star of skin health, but collagen is more than skin-deep. Fascia is almost entirely made up of collagen. Organized in the fascia by fibroblasts (fascia’s primary cells), collagen plays an important role in repairing and renewing damaged skin cells.6
How To Prevent Fascia Stiffness
Remember the fascia when planning your wellness routine. By keeping it soft and fluid, you’ll reduce the risk of muscle cramps and pain.
- Take breaks when sitting at a desk or on a
- Stretch after sleeping or long car rides.
- Buy a foam roller or hand-held massager.
- Rub tight body parts, like the neck or lower back.
- Apply a warm compress to tight muscles.
- Regularly practice yoga, pilates, and other stretching exercises.
- Always stretch before and after a workout.
Now that you know the importance of fascia, treat yourself to frequent massages and stretch away – a relaxed fascia is a relaxed you!
|↑1||Lee, Seunghun, BIN JOO KYUNG, and Soon-Young Song. “Accurate definition of superficial and deep fascia.” Radiology 261, no. 3 (2011).|
|↑2||Minasny, Budiman. “Understanding the process of fascial unwinding.” International journal of therapeutic massage & bodywork 2, no. 3 (2009): 10.|
|↑3||Schleip, Robert. “Fascial plasticity–a new neurobiological explanation: Part 1.”
|↑4||Schleip, Robert. “Fascial plasticity–a new neurobiological explanation: Part 1.” Journal of Bodywork and movement therapies 7, no. 1 (2003): 11-19.|
|↑5||Sefton, JoEllen. “Myofascial release for athletic trainers, part I: Theory and session guidelines.” Athletic Therapy Today 9, no. 1 (2004): 48-49.|
|↑6||Findley, Thomas W. “Fascia research from a clinician/scientist’s perspective.” International journal of therapeutic massage & bodywork 4, no. 4 (2011): 1.|