FASCIA - WHAT IT IS AND THE PART IT PLAYS IN OUR PHYSICAL BODY
Fascia has been part of our evolution since the emergence of life on earth.
Fascia is not new, but what is new is the awareness and understanding of how vital it is in understanding our shapes, functions and dysfunctions.
The new research on fascia has shown that “the body—and the fascial net in particular—is a single connected unity in which the muscles and bones float.” Because fascial connective tissue has 10 times more neurons and nerves than muscles it becomes critical to how we move and how we function.
To me this is exciting! It opens the door to a new way of seeing our bodies, understanding how they move and function as well as new ways to influence and up level our health and wellbeing.
So what is Fascia?
Fascia is formed in the womb
We all start as a fertilized cell, in our mother’s womb. This cell starts replicating and with this multiplication the journey begins towards becoming a body.
As the cells replicate they begin to shape according to a human blueprint.
This growth process happens wholistically as one growing system expanding and becoming a body.
As these cells are replicating they are growing and placing themselves within a net like system called the Fascia. This provides a structure that allows the cells to stay in relationship to each other, so the body can develop as a unit. This Fascia provides a containing shape for more solid forms like bones and muscles to form in correct relationship and not become misshapen, when the forces of gravity (like mother walking, or going to the bathroom, or any other gravitational force affecting the form) are acting on the forming body preventing the body structure from dissolving into parts or getting shifted out of the original blueprint of human form.
This net is found in all of nature, and has been with us, as part of evolution, since we came out of the ocean. It is a fundamental component of our physiology and our evolution through time.
Why it is a “NEW” field of discovery
It is only in the last 15 years or so have there been any studies or awareness to just how important fascia is. Prior to this all medical studies of the body were dissections where the fascia was discarded as packing material so the big interesting parts could be looked at, and separated out (the beginning of the fragmented understanding of the body as units rather than wholistic system) Neither anatomy studies or medical books showed or discussed anythig about the fascia. It is only in the past 10 -15 years that there is recognition that the fascia is the senior integrating and communicating system of the body.
Fascia has a spectrum of qualities that change depending on the forces affecting it.
The fascia changes daily depending on what you are doing. Different exercises, different ways of moving different ways you rest all develop different qualities and tendencies within the fascia.
The fascia holds water so it is key in having the body hydrated. One of the results of exercise and stretching is that as the muscles and body parts are stretched and moved the water is squeezed out of the tissue and then when we rest more fresh fluids move in. The same effect is achieved when we roll out our bodies. Consequently rest is as important as movement for hydration and healthy tissue.
How the fascia shapes us - the good and the bad
As the fascia acts as this shaping Meta membrane that holds us together and keeps us in recognizable shape its really the fascia that makes us look the way we look and feel the way we feel. It shapes us and holds the memory of whatever patterns and behaviour we have been involved in during our lives.
Types of trauma that affect the fascia and the body
When the body has an open wound, in order to heal, the skin starts to knit together and close up the exposed parts to facilitate the healing process.
Similuarly, when the body is impacted with some sort of trauma, (injury, fall, surgery, emotional trauma, or immobility trauma such as too little or too much exercise and inflammation) this lubricating quality of teh fascia starts to change and become gluelike to facilitate joining tissue together. The qualities become a form of a contraction, pulling together closing up what was open, and now this viscous sliding element of the fascia becomes gluelike.
Why rolling the fascia makes a difference
When we start to roll out our bodies, and address areas that are painful or frigid (not easily giving in to the pressure of the balls) we have contacted areas that have patterns and possible trauma that has adhesions and glue. Consequently, muscles have been pulled too tightly together, and there is no give to the tissue. These sorts of tight areas have tangled up rigidified fascia, that is also dehydrated and dry. As we begin to untangle the fascia we restore its potential for a more smooth flowing nature through this slow deep pressure ,
It is like having tangled hair that is all knotted up. When we slowly add conditioner and pull a comb through it, (bringing the moisture back) the tangles start to pull apart and the hair separates out into a more streamlined format.
How different types of motion create different types of Fascia shaping
When we exercise and move or lie on the sofa as a couch potato, we are shaping and influencing the fascia.
Different qualities are trained into the fascia by our choices and functions: The more buoyant, crimp-like textures are trained into the body with walking, running , jumping, throwing, any general movement of 1 second or so.
The oily slimy lubricating hydration happens when we put pressure or squeeze the muscles and then release them to allow for more fluid to get into the dried areas. This is especially important to start mobilizing stuck traumaized areas of the physical body that have not moved in a long time.
The plastic dried up qualities are trained into the structures by long fixed shapes of holding and fixed shapes: slumping over the computer, swinging our hips forward, looking down at our cell phones, etc.
As we better understand all this we can evaluate our own bodies and decide what is needed to help undo dysfunctional patterns and restore a more optimal way of being throughout our lives. We train our fascia so depending on what direction and inspiration is driving you it is possible to mold the body in that direction.
This new knowledge is priceless as it puts back into our hands the understanding of how to be our own therapist, heal what is stuck and train towards our own unfolding.