What The Fascia!?
Updated: Jul 29, 2020
Fascia is the biological fabric that holds us together. It is a continuous interwoven connective tissue system found underneath the skin. It is primarily made out of bundles of collagen that holds and connects every system in the human body. This includes every muscle, bone, nerve, blood vessel, and internal organ.
Fascia looks like one sheet of fibrous connective tissue, but is actually made of multiple layers with liquid in between called hyaluronan. Fascia can be classified as superficial, deep, and visceral. The superficial fascia is found directly under the skin and superficial to the adipose layers, so in-between your skin and fat. It is made primarily of loosely packed collagen and elastin fibers. Deep fascia surrounds bones, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. It commonly has a more fibrous consistency than superficial fascia. It is also the most rich in hyaluronan compared to the superficial and visceral fascia. Deep fascia tends to be highly vascularized and contains well developed lymphatic channels. Finally, the visceral fascia surrounds the internal organs and cavities such as the abdomen.
How Can It Cause Pain?
The biggest continuous system in the human body is not seen in X-rays, MRI's, or CT scans, but it is very much real! Fascia is best seen when dissecting cadavers such as I had the opportunity to do in school. It can also be seen when magnified 25x.
How can this almost invisible massive system cause pain and inhibit your potential to move? Healthy fascia is smooth, slippery, and flexible. Certain things such as injuries, surgeries, or repetitive improper motion cause the fascia to become gummy and "crinkle up" or "get stuck". These are called adhesions.
These adhesions are also known as "knots" or "trigger points". Fascial adhesions tend to get worse overtime if not treated and begin compress and alter the movement of the surrounding muscles. This causes pain, decreases range of motion, causes muscle imbalances, and can create referred pain.
What Can Be Done?
MOVEMENT! Moving more, stretching, and staying hydrated are some ways to keep the fascia healthy, moving well, and prevent injury. Our goal is to introduce manual movement to the tissue and fascia by using different myofascial release techniques. These different techniques release adhesions, thereby increase range of motion, decrease pain, and improve proper movement. The techniques used at BSP are active cupping decompression therapy, instrumented soft tissue mobilization, active release technique, trigger point therapy, and massage therapy.