Fascia: what is it and why work with it?

IMG_0476.jpg

Lately, the myofascial balls or these super bouncy balls have been a part of yoga class. 

Fascia is connective tissue within the body. There are several layers. The first being the superficial which lays just under our skin. It houses part of the immune system. After our skin, it has the most nerve endings and is a passageway for blood vessels. Fascia encapsulates the whole body and acts as a protective and support system. 

The second layer, which is the layer we work with in class is the deep fascia. This is dense fibrous tissue that surrounds each muscle, runs through the muscle and envelopes each fiber. It also comes together to form tendons. This layer helps to transmit force. It also lubricates the tissue to allow for muscles to slide and glide by each other. 

The last layer is the visceral layer which suspends organs in the cavities. 

Back to that middle layer or the Deep Fascia With age, injury or overuse this layer can get stuck. When this happens there may be pain in the muscles or joints; decreased range of motion; less mobility throughout the body for example. 

Fascia is a fibrous tissue mainly composed of collagen amongst other things including white blood cells, fibroblasts, elastin and ground substance. The ground substance is key in attracting water and it fills the spaces between fibers and cells which comprises 70% of fascia. Collagen creates the structure of the fascial web. 

When we roll on the balls, a foam roller, or block in class we are breaking down the fascia. In doing so, the body needs to repair itself, so it increases collagen production and the release of fluids into the system. Being well hydrated is key for the body to lay down clean fascial lines in order to reduce the stickiness of the fascial tissue. 

Myofascial release can decrease pain, increase range of motion, increase recovery time and increase pliability of the muscles. 

If you come to class and have something you want to work on, let me know so we can incorporate it into the sequence. If you have any questions, please reach out to me.