Fascia has become a very popular topic recently, its true importance as a structural network having been largely ignored in the past. It consists mostly of collagen and elastin, forming a sheet of fibrous connective tissue that supports and separates structures throughout the entire body.
If you have ever worn a twisted stocking or sock, you know the feeling of how annoying this can be; you get used to it and ignore it, though it is still a relief when you remove the sock or stocking at the end of the day! This is how it feels when fascia is tight of twisted, it can pull constantly, even though we learn to ignore it.
If you examine a piece of raw chicken, you will find a very thin layer of transparent tissue close to the meat and beneath the skin. This is fascia. If you were to hold it up to the light and look thorough it, it would almost look like the colours you see on the road when oil mixes with water after the rain.
Fascia surrounds bones, muscles, muscle fibres, organs, blood vessels and nerves. Other structures can be considered fascia; the meninges, the membrane around the brain (you will have heard of meningitis!) and the dura, 3 tough layers inside the spine (you will have heard of epidural!), it is even thought to surround the cell and penetrate inside the cell. Ligaments, which attach bone to bone and tendons which attach muscle to bone are very fascia-like.
Sometimes the key is in the anatomical name: tensor fascia lata, the long muscle at the outside of the thigh (the ilio-tibial band); planta fascia, the fascia under the foot (as in plantar fasciitis when it is inflamed); thoracolumbar fascia in the lower back, deep cervical fascia that surround all the structures in the neck, etc.
Basically, the fascial network can resemble a building; running head to toe with the muscle structure, with supports across the body at the pelvic floor, respiratory diaphragm, thoracic inlet (between the neck and the body), the base of the skull and underneath the pituitary gland in the centre of the skull. Kneeling on all fours, the organs are suspended from the spine and as such tension in the fascia around the organs can pull on the spine and joints, causing pain and/or restricted movement, even though the organ itself it perfectly healthy. Tensions or adhesions in the fascia between organs can limit our ability to move freely and fully.
Fascia is magical substance that seems to hold the memory of everything that has ever happened to us; accidents, injuries, surgeries, scars, postural habits, emotional impacts, etc.. The fascial network may well be largely responsible for the saying that “the issue is in the tissue” and why people can at times sense emotions when old ‘memories’ are released from the tissue. This ‘intelligent’ structure is fascinating in its power to heal old injuries and patterns in the body.
The late Biochemist, Candace Pert PhD wrote about the how the same neuro-transmitters that are responsible for laying down memories/emotions in the brain are also found in organs; this is a slightly different subject, though explains the power or releasing the fascia around organs, which is part of Visceral Osteopathy. The body will gently release what it is ready to when it is respectfully, gently given the opportunity; it is not a case of digging or prying into a person’s private life against their will. The person may not even consciously remember an issue or event and may just feel easier and more comfortable in themselves and their body after the release. This is not about analysis paralysis, it is about letting the body gracefully respond to its healing capacity though releases in the fascia.
We are happy to advise you on your health matters and offer a free 15 minute joint and spinal check, without obligation.
Lin Bridgeford DO KFRP MICAK MICRA FSCCO MSc
Registered Osteopath & Kinesiologist & Yoga Teacher
Aether Bios Clinic