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  • Jayne Hill

Fabulous fascia! It's all connected...

Fascia or connective tissue used to be described as the strong elastic bands that join muscles to bones (tendons) or bones to bones (ligaments). In research, the fascia was stripped away and banished to the bin to showcase the full anatomical glory of muscles and bones that you see in classic books like Gray's Anatomy. Without fascia you couldn’t move and you wouldn’t have structure. You’d be an untidy heap of organs, muscles and bones on the floor. Try to do a down dog like that. I know. Awkward.


But fascia is far more complex, interesting and useful than a bunch of elastic bands that hold together your structure. This strong, slippery tissue wraps around your bones like clingfilm, hugs and supports every organ, twists its way around the discs in your spine, encloses and meshes through your muscles like a web, runs under your skin like a fuzzy body suit and is intimately entwined with your nervous system.


"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe."
John Muir

Fascia feels. It’s a sensory organ and reports sensations like pain, pressure and position. It helps you feel where you are in space so you can sit, stand, walk and move with balance, grace and ease. It responds to pressure by becoming thicker and stronger and it responds to your hormones.

Fascia contains a quarter of the water in your body. It needs to be hydrated and nourished for optimum function. Plump, juicy fascia is healthy fascia. Eating well and drinking plenty of water isn’t enough,. That good stuff won’t make it into your tissues unless you move them. The gentle squeeze and release of movement (yes, the release is IMPORTANT) pumps fluid in and out of the tissue just like a sponge in the bath. No movement, no nourishment.


Fascia can heal under the right conditions, but it’s slow and takes 7 to 14 months to regenerate completely. If you keep on doing the same things in the same way that caused the problem, you’ll keep on injuring your fascia in the same way before it has time to heal.


Fascia

  • Can tense independently of muscles

  • Should glide and slide, but it becomes fuzzy, matted and stuck when it doesn’t move

  • Is affected by hormones – stress hormones set it and oestrogen (and relaxin in pregnancy) soften it

  • Is in large, continuous sheets across your body, so by working or relaxing one area of your body (or mind!), you can release other areas in the same ‘chain’ of fascia

  • Has a wavy structure when it’s healthy that makes it bouncy like a spring

You can see why yoga can be a fascia-friendly practice!


"Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else."
Leonardo da Vinci.


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