Fascia... What it is and why you should care
Facia is something that can affect both top-level athletes and people who are just starting out.
What is it?
Fascia is a band or sheet of connective tissue beneath the skin that attaches, stabilises, encloses and separates muscles and other internal organs. Fascia is classified by layer… superficial fascia, deep fascia and visceral fascia. Like ligaments and tendons, fascia is made up of fibrous connective tissue containing closely packed bundles of collagen fibres. Fascia is flexible and able to resist a lot of force.
Fascia are similar to ligaments and tendons as they have collagen as their major component. They differ in their location and function… ligaments join one bone to another, tendons join muscle to bone and fascia surround muscles and other structures.
An important function of muscle fascia is to reduce friction of muscular force. Fascia provides a supportive and movable wrapping for nerves and blood vessels as they pass through and between muscles. Fascial tissues are also able to store and release elastic potential energy.
Why you should care?
Many problems can be linked to the fascia since it is such a vital part of the metabolism, stabilising function and musculoskeletal system. Fascia that has thickened and has impaired ability causes a lot of symptoms. The body can feel heavy and pain can occur. Muscles can spasm and inflame. A tight connective tissue chain can distort the skeleton so that wear in the joints can occur.
Fascia injuries happen due to training overload, damage by external trauma, inflammation due to lifestyle and poor diet. People who overload a body part for a long period of time will be stiffer and will have thickened connective tissue in the most strained parts. This can be difficult to treat in a short time especially if the body continues to be subjected to training loads.
Thickened fascia will naturally lose elasticity and mobility. The area will become more difficult to treat and the results can be slower. When thickened, connective tissue treatment may have to be repeated several times over a longer period so that the tissue gets a chance to recover.
What we can do about it?
Research has shown that we may need large amounts of vitamin C for full recovery and rebuilding of connective tissue. The recommendations for RDA are based on the minimum you should take to avoid deficiency diseases, not how much we should eat to be healthy. Other options include deep tissue and fascia release massages performed by professionals.
For help and advice on looking after your fascia and increasing your mobility speak to one of the fitness team.