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What is Fascia?

Fascia is a sheath of stringy strong connective tissue that runs like a 3D web throughout your entire body, completely uninterrupted from head to toe. Fascia surrounds every structure in your body. It provides support to your organs, muscles, tendons, ligaments, tissues, nerves, joints and bones. Fascia is one continuous layer, so it's flexible and moves with your body. Fascia is what holds us, supports us and keeps us mobile. In health fascia is relaxed, providing a cushioning, supportive mechanism, allowing us to move safely without restriction or pain.

 

Fascia is made up of collagen, elastin and ground substance (the non-cellular constituents of extracellular matrix);

 

What causes restrictions to occur?

When the body undergoes physical trauma, such as muscle injuries or surgery, the fascia is placed under stress and tightens up, causing muscle pain. Emotional overwhelm can also negatively impact the fascia.

Factors that cause fascia to bind down & cause restrictions include: A lifestyle of limited physical activity (too little movement day after day) Repetitive movement that overworks one part of the body, poor posture, inflammation (from accidents as well as disease) and surgical procedures. The fascial network loses its pliable consistency and internal structures can be pulled out of alignment, causing pain, restriction and reducing function. Restrictions in one area lead to others, as we compensate to maintain our posture and health

 

There are many ways fascia can be changed / damaged and not just via physical impact – Our physiology is the story of our lives. Every experience we have from our embryological beginnings is stored within our cellular makeup. Our body remembers this, storing within the fascia. A book I have read “The Body Keeps The Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk talks deeply about how the body stores trauma on a physical, emotional and spiritual level.

 

Memories and emotions are connected to holding patterns in our physical body, these can manifest as pain. With the help of Fascia Informed Bodywork the physical and emotional content of any injury can be addressed in a safe, gentle and effective way. 

The importance of fascia has been missed in scientific research for decades, for two main reasons;

  • Fascial restrictions do not show up on CAT scans, MRI or X-rays

  • Historically scientists worked on cadavers (dead bodies) and removed the fascia to look at muscles, bones, organs etc without recognising the importance of this continuous 3D web.

 

More recently the plastic surgeon Dr JC Gimberteau used endoscopes to look inside the living human body, this highlighted the importance of a healthy fascial system. See clips:

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