The Secret to Better Health May Be in the Tissue That Connects Our Muscles

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Written By Editorial Team

Editor of Health & Fitness Content at OneFitDay Media.

The idea of taking care of one’s fascia, which is the tough, flexible tissue that connects and envelops muscles, bones, and organs like cling wrap, has become increasingly prevalent in the fitness and wellness industries in recent years. Fascia can be made more supple by Pilates instructors and massage therapists, and home-use devices such as foam rollers, massage guns, and “fascia blasters” promise to enhance fascia health.

Christopher DaPrato, a physical therapist at the University of California, San Francisco who investigates the relationship between fascia and athletic performance, said that the term “fascia” has become extremely popular.

In the early 2000s, medical professionals thought fascia served only as a protective covering for vital bodily parts. Since then, studies have shown that connective tissue is essential to flexibility and range of motion and plays a critical role in our physiological processes.

According to recent studies, taking care of your fascia may help treat chronic pain, enhance your ability to exercise, and enhance your general wellbeing.

The National Institutes of Health’s Helene Langevin, director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, stated that “we’re still at the very, very beginning” in our understanding of fascia. “This is a body part that we have been ignoring for far too long.”

There are two types of fascia in your body: loose and dense. To facilitate movement, each type is essential. The strong collagen fibers that make up dense fascia aid in giving your body its contours. It secures blood vessels, muscles, organs, and nerve fibers. It stabilizes your joints and aids in the contraction and stretching of your muscles. Your muscles, joints, and organs can move against one another like a well-oiled machine thanks to the more pliable loose fascia.

It was discovered in 2007 by Carla Stecco, an anatomy professor at the University of Padova in Italy, that fascia contains living nerve endings. This implies that it might cause suffering. It becomes increasingly sensitive the longer it is injured or inflamed.

Long-term inactivity can cause fascia to shorten, become unduly rigid, and congeal into place, creating adhesions that impair movement, according to Mayo Clinic physical therapist David Krause. Inactivity has the potential to cause fascia to change shape over time. Should you spend the majority of your days bent over a computer, your posture may become curved due to changes in the fascia surrounding your neck and shoulder muscles.

Additionally, repetitive motions, long-term stress, trauma, or surgery can harm fascia, causing it to become inflamed, unduly rigid, or adhered to one another. Plus, as we age, it gets stiffer.

Ultimately, due to its fiber matrix composition, fascia that is excessively short, stiff, or sticky in one area of the body can cause pain and dysfunction in other areas by pulling or pinching in the wrong direction, according to Dr. Stecco. In order to compensate, the body may also alter its gait, leading to further problems.

Differentiating between pain originating from your muscles and joints versus your fascia can be challenging. In general, fascia pain decreases with movement, whereas joint and muscle issues typically get worse the more you move.

Being active is the best way to maintain the elasticity and robustness of your fascia. Experts also suggest a few specific items.

According to Dr. Langevin, resistance training maintains fascia strength. According to her, “a weak muscle will not do a great job at moving and mobilizing the fascia, nor will stiff and congealed fascia aid the muscle in performing its function.” She declared, “They need each other.” “Once one begins to get better, the other benefits.”

According to Dr. DaPrato, exercises that incorporate a variety of motions, such as dancing, jumping jacks, tennis, and swimming, also aid in maintaining the lubrication of the fascia. In particular, bouncing movements are particularly useful for maintaining the health of fascia.

Director of the Fascia Research Group at Ulm University in Germany Robert Schleip said, “Skipping, for example, is such a wonderful movement.”

Dr. Langevin advised people who haven’t been active lately to “be gentle with our fascia and to go slowly and try to reestablish the movement that has been lost.” Dynamic stretching is beneficial for both healthy and damaged fascia because it lengthens and contracts the muscle at the same time. Try squats, forward lunges, and trunk twists. Think about consulting with a physical therapist who can direct you toward the best program and provide hands-on treatment.

In addition to moving, experts advise drinking water all day long as this can facilitate easy fascia gliding.

Research hasn’t yet demonstrated the long-term efficacy of devices and therapies that apply pressure to fascia, despite their widespread use. By “changing some of the fluid dynamics in that local area,” foam rollers and percussion guns can temporarily reduce fascial soreness and increase flexibility, according to Dr. DaPrato. Don’t overdo it if you decide to use a self-massaging tool: The recent practice of “fascia blasting,” which involves forcefully pushing fascia through the skin and may cause bruising, is not supported by any evidence.

The same might apply to therapies like cupping and myofascial massage. According to experts, it’s fantastic if these treatments improve your mobility and overall well-being; however, the best medicine is to continue being active.