Have you ever been cutting a piece of chicken to cook and you have a tendency to cut off the thin white part that covers the chicken breast? This is fascia. When I think of fascia, I think of a piece of sausage. Why? Because it's contained in a casing, much like your fascia contains your muscles and body and helps keep it all held together in place.
Fascia is like a secondary nervous system in your body. Many athletes understand the important rolls that muscles, tendons and ligaments play in fitness, athletics and sports. However, fascia is another tissue in the body that plays an equally important role, and has been an area of increasing research and interest with the physical therapy and sports medicine world.
Fascia and fascial manipulation is not a new phenomena. Acupuncture and other modalities have focused on fascial manipulation for thousands of years. However, recent research has lead to western medicine's new understanding of the importance and total body impact of fascia. Fascia can be examined both anatomically and biomechanically as well as how fascial manipulation can result in improved athletic performance.
So what exactly is Fascia? Fascia is a network of connective tissues that is both continuous and contiguous throughout the entire body. That is to say just about every structure in the human body is covered, surrounded, or attached to fascia is some way.
Most importantly to an athlete, fascia surrounds muscles, blood vessels, and nerves, binding these structures together much like plastic warp can be used to hold the contents of a sandwich together. One critical role of fascia is to transmit tension and is a critical component of muscle and bone biomechanics. Only 20% of muscle attaches to bone directly, the 80% is attached thru fascia. It is also important to understand that fascia transmits tension both longitudinally as well as horizontally. A fascial center of fusion on the side of the leg, can affect the muscle above and below it, as well as on the opposite side of the leg as well.
It should be noted that the existence of fascia was undiscovered for so long because fascia cannot be readily separated from a muscle, organ or any other tissue. It is so closely associated and connected with the structure it surrounds that was examined in isolation it appeared to simply be a part of the structure itself.
Fascia is made up of closely packed bundles of long collagen fibers oriented in parallel to the direction of pull given it's location to joints and muscles. As a result a particular area of fascia is generally most flexible and stretchable in a single plane of motion. The function of most planes of fascia is to reduce friction and allow a muscle, or other organ in the body to move freely with minimal friction and/or drag against adjacent structures, be it bone, muscles or other organs.
Typically fascia is thought of as a passive structure, that does not exert force itself, it merely transmits mechanical tension from one attachment point to another. However, some believe that fascia has contractile properties and as a result can influence the function and force of difference muscle and muscle groups directly.
At Athletes in Pain, I use slow motion video gait & posture analysis, myofascial release and training plans to rehabilitate your fascia and painful areas in your body, and video range-of-motion testing. From Olympic Athletes to people who just like to stay active, I can help you get back in the game. Call me to schedule a $25 no obligation consultation so we can see where your pain stems from and help with your pain from the source, not just masking the symptoms.
Hello, I'm Stephe Worley, the owner of Athletes in Pain Sports Therapy Clinic. I have over 32 years of experience as a Sports Therapist. I am proud to have the privilege of working with numerous athletes throughout my career.