Fascia? Many people might say, what the heck is fascia?! Chances are, you’ve read or learned at least a little about muscle tissue, or fibers, or bundles, but I’m going to guess that fascia might be a bit more unknown.
There are three different forms of this “hero” tissue: superficial, deep and visceral. Superficial tissue is related to the function of the skin. As you may have guessed, it’s also directly under the skin. Deep fascia refers to the tissue of the nerves, bones, traditional muscle tissue and blood vessels. A note should be made that this deep tissue is also referred to as epimysium, which wraps the muscle group. This shouldn’t be confused with endomysium, which is wrapped around each muscle fiber. Visceral fascia is the tissue of the body’s organs.
Ok Danielle, so why is deep fascia important for my body? Fascia, simply put, is the unsung hero of the body. It keeps everything within the body in its right place! It keeps the actual muscle in place, but also lets the muscles move independently (pretty awesome stuff huh?). Another important function is the lubrication it provides so muscles can slide or move besides one another. The tissue can also be described as a fluid structure, and connects to bones as well. However, this amazing tissue also has limitations.
If the tissue is dormant or inactive (in regards to stretching) it actually binds together, drastically effecting flexibility. When this happens, the muscles can’t move smoothly and become limited in their range of motion. If the activity of stretching is avoided for long periods of time the tissue can, for lack of a better word, seize up. This can cause loss of movement and great discomfort when moving areas where tissue has bound together.
Think of this deep tissue as a honeycomb. It holds the muscle groups together with a structure that, when taken care of, is very strong yet flexible. This is where injury prevention comes in.
When the tissue is healthy, flexible and soft (think of a hydrated piece of kale), it can bend and twist and move without much issue. If you make that same piece of kale a kale chip in the oven and then try to bend it…well, it’s gonna snap. The fascia tissue does the same thing. When healthy, it allows free movement, but when it is not healthy, it becomes injured very quickly and can be quite painful depending on where it is. In many ways, this is a literal analogy, because the tissue does need to be hydrated well to function in a healthy manner.
Yes, drinking more water helps, but if the tissue is greatly damaged and completely dehydrated, then it’s going to take some time to repair the damage. You can send all the water you want, but if the bridge is out, the water isn’t going to get where it needs to go. First the microvacuoles need to be healed, then they can carry hydration deeper and heal the fascia.
In addition to hydration, the tissue needs to be moved in a variety of ways. Simply put, if you’re doing the same type of exercise routines or doing it at the same pace or the same pattern, working in the same planes of the body not only creates poor habits, but it starts or electorates joint erosion (NOBODY WANTS THIS!!). Doing the same thing also creates a pattern of tissue dehydration at a faster pace.
The entire body is connected so you can’t hurt one part without it effecting multiple other areas. The very best way to prevent injuries that take a great deal of time to heal or that lead to other areas of discomfort is to keep the fascia tissue as healthy as possible! Unhealthy tissue in young people can lead to another injury as an older person that is perceived as unrelated. Most people pass this off as “I’m just getting old”, but the body is much more magnificent than that. It’s doesn’t have to “get old.” An example is how some cultures or physical places on earth have more 100-year-old individuals, who are not just alive, but active with full life and vitality! People that work, play, and have healthy sex lives. The body doesn’t have to “age” as we traditionally know it, and the core is this unsung hero of the body fascia.
For athletes, “quality of life” isn’t necessarily the main focus. For those looking to enhance their performance the natural way, fascia should be a central focus. Understand that when the tissue is healthy, soft, and flexible, it also retains an absorption or “spring-like” quality. You may be asking why is this important or how it makes a difference for your body. If you have healthy tissue, the “rebound” or physics of motion take over; the more energy that is reflected will cause less effort by the muscle for the same outcome; the result is that the body works more efficiently, leading to less overall bodily fatigue! The force generated during impact with the ground is absorbed and sent through the body by the fascia tissue.
The entire fascia system can be compared to the retina or other complex parts of the body because of the sensory capabilities. It’s the largest sensory organ in the human body! It’s the epicenter of function for the body because everything is intertwined!
About Danielle Girdano
Danielle is one of only 12 worldwide professionals that sit on the prestigious Personal Training Advisory Board for The Cooper Institute based in Dallas TX. In addition, she is President of D’fine Sculpting & Nutrition and the host of D’fine Your Health with Danielle Giordano: Strength Through Knowledge Radio Show. In 2013 she was named to the “Top 40 Executives Under 40” years old by the Dallas Business Journal and was nominated for the “2013 Chicago Innovation Awards” because of her mathematical based fitness programs. She has recently been named to the Advisory Board for St. Jude Research Medical Hospital, the Sunday of Hope Project, sits on the Board of Directors for the Alzheimer’s CURE Foundation and is the Wellness Chair for the Small Business Advocacy Council in Chicago IL.
Danielle is a Certified Master Personal Trainer, who specializes in Childhood Obesity, Exercise for Persons with Diabetes, Postural Assessment & Corrective Exercises for Postural Abnormalities, Weight Loss, Strength and Endurance, Senior Fitness, Pregnancy & Postnatal Exercise, and Exercise Motivation & Psychology.