19 Nov Fascia – Connecting you from Head to Toe
What is Fascia?
Fascia is the connective tissue that wraps up every cell in our body, and connects every cell.
It makes up cell membranes, connects muscle fibres, ligaments, tendons, joint capsules etc. It connects us from head to toe in a series of slings. See images below. It is made up of collagen fibres contained within a gel-like substance. This gel substance is called the extracellular matrix (ECM) and contains all the precursor cells to lay down more fibre. It provides lubrication, anti-inflammatory substances (and inflammatory substances) and sends messages as well – a process we are just learning about. Keep your fascia healthy by eating fresh unprocessed foods, drinking fresh water and herbal teas and exercising (esp stretching) regularly.
How is fascia made stronger?
The fibres around our muscles and tendons form a kind of mesh; when the fibres in the mesh are aligned they are stronger than when they are arranged in a haphazard way. When they are strained or torn they form adhesions as shown in the diagram here. When we exercise the tissues align better, giving them greater tensile strength and flexibility. When we are sedentary, they are less aligned and are not as strong.
Some interesting research findings.
- When we are sedentary our fascia becomes clumped and haphazard giving it less functional strength
What does the latest research tell us about building soft tissue resilience?
- Exercise daily to maintain tensile strength of tissues (muscles, tendon, ligaments)
- Drink plenty of water to keep the fascia healthy and lubricated. Water makes the gel like extracellular matrix (ECM) more slippery, therefore us more flexible. Dehydration causes tissues to become sticky and stiff.
- Massage (myofascial release or deep tissue) helps the ECM become more lubricated, but the effect does not always last. Use massage as a starting point to get you back on track with exercise
- Stretching is an effective way to strengthen fascia if you cannot exercise.
- Wearing sports shoes can increase load on a repairing tendon and therefore be a form of exercise
Treating your own facia;
- Specific stretches are very effective
- Personalised strengthening and/or weights program
- Self massage – learn techniques from your physio. We sell a variety of self massage tools here at Physio Body and Sole.
- Eat and drink well