Feeling achy all over or having some muscle tightness? The cause could be something you’ve never heard of: fascia. It’s the thin layer of connective tissue that surrounds your muscles, providing them support and structure. Your muscles may be strong, but the fascia keeps them safe and in place to complete your everyday movements.
Think of your body like an orange. If you liken the outer rind to your skin and the orange pulp to your muscles, then the clear membrane around the pulp is akin to your fascia.
Although this connective tissue certainly isn’t as glamorous as strong, toned muscles (nor as often talked about), the fascia’s role is just as essential as the muscle’s — and that means its health should not be ignored.
4 Important Functions of Your Fascia
Here’s a look at why your fascia is vital to your overall health and how you can keep it in tip-top shape.
How to Keep Your Fascia Healthy
When your fascia is in tip-top shape, it does all these wonderful things for your body. “But when the fascia system is disrupted, it quite literally impacts almost every other system of the body,” Black says.
When it’s under chronic stress, the fascia fibers thicken in an attempt to protect the muscle below. And when it gets injured (officially known as a fascial adhesion), it’s hard, but not impossible, to get it back into good standing.
“The fascia is meant to protect the body from additional injury by ‘locking it down.’ But over time the fascia can remain restricted, adhesed or distorted and then can become an issue,” Black says. “It’s important to restore the fascia after suffering an injury by smoothing it out, then adjusting for proper alignment and retraining the entire body to not ‘work around’ the original injury.”
In its very worst state, says fascia expert Ashley Black, fascia can cause nerve issues, feel like an injury or even pull bones out of alignment. So here are seven ways to keep your fascia healthy:
What Do YOU Think?
Before this, had you ever heard of the forgotten body part called the fascia? If not, you’re probably realizing all the ways unhealthy fascia has impacted your life. If you have any surefire ways to keep your fascia in the best possible shape, tell us in the comments below!
- Sepi Aeen, MPT, From The Heart Physical Therapy
- Ashley Black, author, “The Cellulite Myth: It’s Not, It’s Fascia”
- Rebecca Millhouse, CMT, NMT, Los Angeles Chronic Pain Treatment Center
- Stephen Szaro, DC, Chiropractor and Soft Tissue Specialist, Physio Logic NYC
- PTontheNet: The Functional Role of Fascia in Posture and Movement
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity