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What is Fascia?

Fascia could be described as our organ of support and intertwines, surrounds and supports every other structure of the human body. It is like a three-dimensional net or web of tissue that surrounds and infuses everything, from our muscles, bones, nerves, blood vessels and organs. It is largely made up of collagen fibres as well as ground substance and elastin.

In the past, the fascia was somewhat ignored in dissections and regarded as just a packing material but more recent studies have started to discover that it is much more than just a packing material and has an important role in our health and well-being. The image below was created by Ronald Thompson shows the deep fascia that covers and infuses all pout muscles.

Fascia overlying the sternum
Fascia covering the sternum

 According to Robert Schleip who is part of the fascia research project at Ulm University the fascia can adapt its fibre arrangement and density according to the demands placed on it. It has also been discovered that fascia is our richest sensory organ with up to 10 times more sensory nerve receptors than its muscular counterpart. (Van der Wal 2009). It plays an important role in our proprioception (your sense of your body’s position and motion in space) and interoception (your ability to read and interpret sensations arising from within your own body). The image below created by Ronald Thompson shows the fascial tissue over the sternum. 

The layers of fascia surrounding our muscles can get adhered together. When these adhesions in the fascial layers occur they can restrict our movement and the freedom of movement between our muscles which can lead to pain. Structural bodywork and myofascial release techniques can help to undo these restrictions and allow more fluid movement in the body.