What is Fascia?

What is Fascia?

Fascia (also called connective tissue) is a tissue system of the body to which relatively little attention has been given in the past.

Fascia is composed of two types of fibers:

  1. Collagenous fibers, which are very tough and have little stretchability,
  2. Elastic fibers, which are stretchable.

From a functional point of view, the body fascia is like as a continuous sheet of connective tissue that extends without interruption from the top of the head to the tip of the toes.

Fascia surrounds and influences every other tissue and organ of the body, including nerves, vessels muscle and bone. It is estimated that fascia has a tensile strength of as much as 2,000 pounds per square inch.

fascia-manWhen Fascia is Injured

Myofascial restrictions do not show up on any of the standard tests (x-rays, CAT scans, MRI’s etc) so these myofascial restrictions are often ignored or misdiagnosed.

Since fascia permeates all regions of the body and is all interconnected, when scars harden in one area (following injury, inflammation, disease, surgery, etc.) it can put tension on adjacent pain-sensitive structures as well as structures in far-away areas.

Some patients have bizarre pain symptoms that appear unrelated to the original or primary complaint. These bizarre symptoms can often be now understood connected to the fascial system.

Anatomy of Fascia

The majority of the fascia of the body is oriented vertically. There are, however, four major planes of fascia in the body that are oriented in more of a crosswise (or transverse) plane.

These four transverse planes are extremely dense. They are called:

  • the pelvic floor
  • respiratory diaphragm
  • thoracic inlet
  • cranial base.

Frequently, all four transverse planes become restricted when fascial adhesions occur in just about any part of the body. This is because all the fascia in your body is interconnected, so a restriction in one region can theoretically put a “drag” on the fascia in another direction. Think of this like the yarn in a sweater: if the sweater is pulled down in the front, it tightens around the neck, but the neck is not the source of the problem.

This is why a postural analysis is done at the start of each treatment, allowing your skilled therapist to identify fascial strain patterns in other areas of the body which affect the symptomatic area.

skeletonsThe above illustration (by fellow MFR therapist Rob Crampton) shows how the root cause of back pain can be anywhere in the body, yet a whole body approach is rarely taken in Western medicine.

Check out our Frequently Asked Questions to learn more about MFR treatments, or click to learn more about Myofascial Release. 

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