Fascia - Part 1 of 3 - what is it?

 If you’re into your health and do a bit of regular exercise, you’ve probably heard the term fascia or myofascial. 

There are a fair bit of misconceptions about fascial tissue and its influence on health, fitness and training - we hope to clear up a few of those. 

1.    What is Fascia?

A consensus statement at the 2018 CONNECT conference defined fascia as:

“The fascial system builds a three-dimensional continuum of soft, collagen-containing, loose and dense fibrous connective tissue that permeates the body and enables all body systems to operate in an integrated manner.”

What does this mean?

Consider it like this, when you peel an orange, all the white rind between the skin can be considered fascia – but it doesn’t stop there. The tissue that separates each segment, that can be considered fascia, the white lines that appear on each segment can be considered fascia – the list goes on.

Your body is no different, except maybe a little more complex. The extracellular matrix (fascia and a little more) is involved in all major parts of your body. From your nervous system to your internal organs, your muscles to your skin and everything in between. 

It is common in eastern medicine to consider the body as a whole. The point of pain or illness is not the only place with the problem, rather it is a representation of a broken system. With our developing understanding of fascial system, particularly in the musculoskeletal world, practitioners are often looking elsewhere to resolve a problem with the body.

In a training sense, the way we generate force is increased or decreased by an effective/ineffective fascial system. Injury recovery and prevention is the same. 

Want proof?
Put a competitive long distance runner and a competitive dancer next to each other. The dancer will probably appear supple and soft, the runner, stiff and stuck.
Why? Their bodies have adapted for their practice. 

The runner benefits from stiffness in their connective tissue because of the stretch reflex cycle (explaining this is worth a whole article). 

The softness of the dancer allows for them to put their body in all sorts of complex positions for their performance. 

There are a number of other factors besides your chosen practice that influence your fascial system (mainly genetics) but being aware of it and how it influences your life is important.

More to come next week, so stay tuned!

#teamsof

Joseph Agresta