Fascia is the most prevalent tissue in the body, yet is the least understood. Think of when you are cutting a piece of chicken, and you find the film that is hard to cut through. That is a type of fascial tissue! Initially in dissection studies, that film over the muscles and organs was in the way of what was actually trying to be studied (muscles, bones, organs, etc.); and would subsequently be thrown in the trash. Fast forward to today: there has been seemingly extensive research on fascia within the past 20 years, and we haven’t even scratched the surface!
Fascia describes the connective tissue system of the body. This web of tissue penetrates through and wraps around nerves, muscles, organs, and every other cell or tissue. It connects to and influences every system in the body as a communication network. It is the most extensive tissue in the body; and its flexibility is vital to healthy circulation within muscles, joints, arteries, brain, and spinal cord.
Fascia and Flexibility (Fasciadaptibility) ?
Now, how does this affect me? Well, the flexibility of this fascial system is vital to preventing injury and staying healthy. Ever heard of the old saying “motion is lotion”? The phrase still applies today when looking at flexibility as adaptability. Every person needs the ability to adapt to new situations; both physically and emotionally. This adaptability can be seen in athletics rapidly changing positions or in normal life with a new mother who has to hold her baby for long periods of time.
The same idea applies to the fascial system. Fascia reacts to all forms of stress by tightening. It does this by laying down tough connective tissue called collagen (AKA scar tissue) to adapt. The forces in and around your body will become stressed and add thick strong tissue, which comes at the expense of flexibility. This is the reason there is a prevalence of lower back pain with desk workers/people who sit for a living.
What can I do about it?
In finding this blog, you may be considering step one: practice consistent and optimal stretching. Alongside stretching, regular exercise, hydration, and a varied diet with protein play key roles in maintaining healthy fascia. All of these help to balance the body and prevent this scar tissue buildup.
One last tip, that can be the most difficult at times, stay moving throughout the day. The best place to start is going for a walk (outside if you can). If you do not allow your body to adapt to fixed positions, scar tissue buildup will decrease. This practice can help whether you are a high-level athlete or a 9-5 worker.
To get even more insight on your fascia, contact your local Fascial Stretch Therapist!
Frederick, C. (January 11, 2016). What is Fascial Stretch Therapy? https://www.stretchtowin.com/instituteblog/entry/77/what-is-fascial-stretch-therapy
Frederick, C. FST: Emerging Science https://stretchtowin.com/page/FST_Emerging_Science
Frederick, Ann, and Chris Frederick. Stretch to Win. 2nd ed., Human Kinetics, 2017.