Fascia? Most people might say; what the heck is fascia!?! We all have read or learned about muscle tissue or fibers or bundles, but fascia…huh?
There are three different forms of this “hero” tissue; Superficial, deep and visceral. Basically superficial is related to the function of the skin. As you may have guessed it's also directly under the skin. Deep is the tissue of the nerves, bones, tradition muscle tissue and blood vessels. A note should be made that this deep tissue is also referred to as epimysium; this wraps the muscle group. This shouldn't be confused with endomysium which is wrapped around each muscle fiber. Visceral fascia is tissue of the body's organs.
Ok Danielle, so why is it 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 and also lets the muscles move independently (pretty awesome stuff huh?). Another important function is the lubrication it provides so muscles can slide or move beside one another. The tissue can also be described as a fluid structure and connects to bone as well. 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 will limit range of motion. If the inactive activity of stretching is avoided for long periods of time the tissue can seize up (for lack of a better word). This can cause loss of movement and great discomfort when moving areas where tissue has bind together.
Think of this deep tissue as a honeycomb (commonly referred to as this visual). 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 or twist and move without much issue. If you take two pieces of kale and bake one in the oven, that same piece of kale becomes a kale chip. Now try to bend that kale chip...it will snap or break. The fascia tissue is the same thing. When healthy it allows free movement, but when not healthy it becomes injured very quickly and with great pain sometimes (depending on where it is). This is a literal translation 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. Kind of like a bridge is out (these bridges are the microvacuoles). You can send all the water you want, but if the bridge is out it the water isn't going to get where it needs to. First the microvacuoles need to be healed then they can carry hydration deeper and heal this fascia.
In addition to hydration the tissue needs to be moved in a variety of ways. Simply put, if you are doing the same type of exercise routine or doing it at the same pace or within the same pattern; working in the same planes of the body not only creates poor habits but it starts joint erosion (NOBODY WANTS THIS!!). Doing the same thing also creates a pattern of the tissue dehydrating it at a faster pace.
The entire body is connected...you can't hurt one part without it impacting multiple other parts. 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 keeping the fascia tissue as healthy as possible! If tissue isn't healthy an injury when you a young person 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 more magnificent than that. It's doesn't have to "get old". Example is how some cultures or physical places on earth have more centurions...not just more, 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.
Athletes---if we go on the other end of the spectrum and "quality of life" isn't the main focus but enhanced performance (the natural way) is than again fascia is at the center of the focus. You have to understand that when the tissue is healthy, soft, flexible it also retains an absorption or "spring like" quality. You may be asking why is this important or how does it make a difference? If you have healthy tissue the "rebound" or physics of motion take over. More energy that is reflected will cause less effort by the muscle for the same outcome; the result is more energy because there is significantly less fatigue, the body is working more efficiently! The force generated by impact to the ground is resent 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...all intertwined!