Many of you may have heard the term ‘fascia’ – perhaps from your yoga or Pilates teacher – and wondered what on earth it is. Or why it is mentioned so often today. Well, in the following blog I am going to explain it in a simple way.
To begin, it’s crucial to know that fascia is particularly important when people come to see us because they are stuck in a pain cycle. Initially when someone is suffering from acute pain, we look at the tissue that is causing it and what has ultimately led to the pain. For instance, what they have been doing in their day to day lives, what past injuries they may have experienced, and so on.
If they do not respond to the more ‘superficial’ treatment (I use that word lightly!) then a deeper approach is required, which involves looking at the fascial system.
What exactly is fascia?
The Fascial Research Society states “Fascia is the most pervasive, but perhaps least understood network of the human body. No longer considered the ‘scraps’ of cadaver dissections, fascia has now attracted the attention of scientists and clinicians alike.”
So it’s no surprise that many of our patients are confused by the term.
Simply put, fascia is strong connective tissue that surrounds the muscles in your body and provides them with structural support and protection. Its functions are to provide a sliding and gliding surface between muscles, to suspend organs in their correct position, to transmit forces from muscles to bones and to provide support and protection for nerves and blood vessels.
Imagine a huge spider’s web that connects all structures throughout the body, and you’ve got fascia!
The fascia is also made up mostly of collagen fibres, which is responsible for closing up wounds when we injure ourselves. However, the body can produce excessive collagen when we are inactive. In fact, one study showed us that after keeping a broken arm in a sling for three weeks, the connective tissue had already begun to overgrow. This combined with muscle loss is why it can take up to several months of rehabilitation.
So the key to keeping our connective tissue healthy is exercise, otherwise it can become tight and compress our nerves and muscles. But how do you treat this pain? Tune in next week to find out.
In the meantime, if you’d like to come in and take care of your own fascia, or even just come see what osteopathy is all about, we’d love to see you here at Not Just Backs. Feel free to give us a call on 01722 512 043 to book an appointment or have your questions answered.