Fascia, the connective tissue of our body.
When said like that it’s easy to dismiss it, but in fact, its role in our health and well-being is much, much bigger so it’s important to know how to keep your fascia healthy.
What is Fascia?
- Fascia is a continuous web that enfolds every part of your body
- It allows the other structures, tissues and organs to slide and glide against each other.
- It works with your muscles adding to their power, giving strength and precision to movement.
- Fascia is the body’s shock absorber, dissipating both external and internal forces from impacts, stress and strain (both physical and emotional).
- The body’s richest sensory organ, sending information to your brain about movement, potential danger, and our internal awareness (well-being) and helps the body maintain healthy homeostasis.
With all the different roles and functions of fascia, it’s important we understand how to look after it. But first, what can happen when we don’t?
What Happens When Fascia Becomes Dysfunctional?
Adhesions develop making movement harder.
If your fascia isn’t functioning properly it can get thickened and adhesions develop within and around it.
These adhesions cause the body to produce more of its natural lubricant Hyuloronic (which isn’t actually an acid). This normally helps the fibres slide against each other. If too much is produced it becomes sticky restricting movement and increasing tension. The body then has to work harder to compensate for and dissipate such restrictions.
New injuries, illness or pain can occur.
Fascia contracts in response to both physical and emotional stress. This happens very slowly so the impact on the body may not present itself for months or years. That can be in the form of a new injury, illness or reduced movement
Poor posture will also cause the fascia to change in response to how it is being used making it hard for it to function properly.
Less information from your body gets to your brain.
The gel that fills the gaps between the fibres normally generates a small electric charge as the fascia moves. This is part of the feedback system to the brain. Where there are restrictions, there is less movement and so less information gets to the brain about the health of the body.
The nerves in your fascia feedback about pain and proprioception. If the fascia can’t move as well, this feedback is reduced impacting both movement coordination, injury risk and increasing pain levels.
You can become more sensitive to pain.
The central nervous system feeds off information, it wants to keep receiving information. If it’s getting less proprioceptive feedback from the fascia it will increase how easily it can get information about pain. This means your body responds to pain more readily, which can contribute to chronic pain and also further reduced function as you want to use that area even less.
As you can see, a dysfunctional fascia can have a huge impact, so what can you do to minimise the impact of modern life and help keep your fascia healthy? After all, life happens and throws all kinds of challenges our way, so the more you can support it the better it will cope.
How To Keep Your Fascia Healthy.
1 – Be Mindful Of Your Posture
As I’ve mentioned before fascia contracts very slowly. This means you can reverse poor posture, but it may take time. By actively working on your posture your fascia will realign to the new and improved tension and compression forces you put it through.
2 – Keep Moving
Movement keeps the body alive, quite literally. It tells the cells of our body how to react and respond to what’s going on. How we move and stand really does matter so find ways to add more movement to your day.
If you’re stuck behind a desk create mini breaks. For example, stand up to answer a call or set a timer to get up regularly for a glass of water. Look into sit-stand desks or chairs that allow for active sitting, keeping even a small amount of movement going.
Outside of work how much do you move and what type of movement is it? Variety is the spice of life. So much of what we do is in one plane, front to back – walking, cycling, running. Even most gym equipment is designed in one plane.
Our body is 3D and fascia needs 3D movement with twists and turns to it, so keep your exercise varied. Things like Yoga, Pilates, dance, climbing, martial arts and Gyrokinesis help incorporate more rotation and stretch into a workout.
3 – Keep hydrated
If the fascia becomes dehydrated it becomes more fibrous and weakens. Remember it should be a mix of fibres and gel. 65-70% of that gel should be crystallised water.
Makes sure you are sipping water throughout the day to nourish your fascia. The movement you are doing will help move that fluid around keeping your fascia hydrated and healthy.
4 – Look After Your Emotional Side
Emotional stress and trauma can get trapped within the fascia so it’s important to acknowledge this side of us too. You are not just a physical body with a brain attached. You are a united body-mind. And the mind is as much in the cells of your body as it is in the brain.
Holding onto your past and pushing unwanted memories and emotions down will impact you in the long term. The fascia and body cells slowly contract with that insult. It’s important to find ways to help your body safely release any trapped emotions.
One way may be through the actions above. As the fascia is able to move again, what was stuck in there can release. Look to find ways to express yourself safely after an event to release your anger, frustration, sadness etc.
Meditation can help bring your attention internally and begin to explore how you really feel inside. There are also lots of different therapies that can help you explore your past in a safe way. Not to relive them but to remember them so you can let them go.
Your body is designed to heal itself, often we get in the way.
By helping it get back to a better functioning state it will be better able to look after itself and cope with modern day life. Fascia is a huge part of that. Our understanding of just how much fascia plays a role in our physical and mental well-being is still being discovered. One thing’s for sure, it is not just an inert wrapper.
So please be kind to yourself and your fascia and try adding a few of these tips into your day to help keep your fascia healthy.
If you want to learn more about your fascia, have a look at my last blog – fascinating facts about your fascia.