Fascia - A Sense Organ We Never Knew We Had
Recently I’ve been delving into the world of Fascia, the connective tissue of the body. With my various therapies, I spend a lot of time working with fascia.
For a long time, it was dismissed as inert connective tissue. Often cut away to get to ‘the more important structures’. With new technology and a new approach to looking at the body, science has uncovered some amazing things about fascia in the last few years.
I thought you might be interested to learn some interesting facts about your fascia. We are starting to uncover with science, what a lot of therapists have known for a long time with our hands.
It is also answering a lot of questions about how the mind and body work together and how/why treatments that link the two are so effective.
So Here Are My Top 10 Facts About Your Fascia
1 – Fascia is a continuous web of connective tissue that envelops every part of the body.
It wraps around every other structure and contains some within it. Ligaments and joint capsules are now seen as continuations of or embedded within Fascia.
2 – There are no true layers within fascia.
The structure of it changes depending on the role it needs to play in any given space. Sometimes it’s thicker to help transmit force. Sometimes thinner to act as a gliding surface between structures. At times it’s more of a communicator to the rest of the body.
3 – Fascia works as one.
So, if there is dysfunction in one spot it will influence the whole system and excess tension gets distributed and compensated for throughout the rest of the Fascial web. Think about this, picking up your skin impacts all the tissue beneath it right down to your muscles, bones and potentially your organs too!
4 – Fascia is one of our primary force transmitters.
It helps disperse force/energy from both external impact and that generated internally. It also works with our Musculoskeletal system to generate the strength that provides.
5 – There are no empty spaces or pockets of air in the body's tissues.
Between the fascia fibres is a gel that is integral to the function of Fascia. We talk about layers which suggest space between and separation. Really it’s more of a continuous network of fibres mixed with a fluid gel.
6 – It is a superconductor of energy.
65-70% of the gel within the fascia is bonded water (Crystalised water) that emits a small electrical charge every time it is disturbed. So there is an electric signal coursing continually through your body filled with information.
7 – Fascia can contract but not with the same speed as a muscle.
Unexpected physical or emotional/verbal insult; stress or strain (including from posture) can get stuck within the fascia and initiate it to contract. This slow contraction happens over months or years and can lead to delayed pain and dysfunction.
8 – Fascia is the richest sensory organ in your body.
It contains approximately 250 million nerve endings feeding back information about proprioception (what we feel and where we are in space), danger (pain) and interoception (how we feel within ourselves) back to the brain. It relays the equivalent amount of info to your brain as your eyes do – that is a lot!
9 – Your fascia links your body and your mind.
It communicates to the same areas of your brain that deal with emotion, memory and future intention. It talks with the brain about motion and emotion, so every physical or emotional signal that’s picked up by your fascia is linked and compared with your past memories, beliefs and emotions.
10 – The fascial web is our organ of interoception.
This relates to how you feel in your body in terms of physiological balance (homeostasis) and well-being. These interoceptive nerves are the most common type found within your Fascia.
What can we learn from these facts about your fascia?
This expanded knowledge about fascia blows my mind and excites me. I hope these snippets show you how complete and connected your body and mind are.
Understanding our fascia shows us how a restriction in one place, no matter how small (even a small scar on the skin) can influence your whole body. This is why your therapist doesn’t always head straight for where you feel the pain. That may not be the source of the problem.
Our new knowledge of fascia also explains those random issues that appear to come from nowhere. Fascia’s ability to contract, but only very slowly, explains how a restriction, pain or dysfunction today may be due to that car accident or fall you had 10 years ago.
How we move, the type of touch we experience and the way we interact with our world is felt by your Fascia. This is fed back to your mind and there it’s linked to your feelings of that experience and expectations of life.
You can’t separate any physical issues from the emotions that came with it. Your fascia keeps them connected.
How To Work With Fascia
Fascia needs to feel safe. It responds best to a light, slow touch.
With the appropriate treatment, you can begin to unlock restrictions and trauma (physical and emotional) that has become stuck within it. When we work with the body and really listen to what is it trying to show us, amazing things can happen. The latest research into fascia is explaining more and more why that is so.
Have a look at my next blog on how to keep your fascia healthy for some simple tips you can incorporate into everyday life.