Written by Dr. Jan Kunde Last updated: Friday, 28 August 2020
Fascia runs through the muscles © rosifan19 – Fotolia.com
Fascia therapy, fascia massage, stuck fascia – fascia is currently on everyone’s lips. Super athletes are said to achieve true peak performance through fascia training, old people become young and fit again, pain in the back, neck and feet disappears and even cellulite is said to improve through fascia training. That sounds like an anti-aging miracle cure! But what are fasciae actually?
Fascia and connective tissue – more important than thought
In the past, little importance was attached to connective tissue. This has changed – today it is recognized that the fibrous and collagen-containing connective tissue is of enormous importance. This connective tissue is collectively referred to as “fascia”. Fasciae form a three-dimensional network that runs through the entire body. They envelop individual muscle fibers, organs or even form ligaments, tendons and joint capsules. The term fascia comes from Latin and means “bundle” or “band.”
Anyone who has ever cut meat is familiar with the ligaments and skins that run through the meat. Particularly in coarse-fibered beef, the small slippery membranes that surround each bundle of muscle fibers and ensure that they can move against each other are easy to see – it is precisely these light-colored membranes and bands that are the fasciae.
Only healthy fasciae are functional
Scientists agree that fasciae are much more important than long thought. Fasciae are responsible for the movement and performance of our muscles. If the function of the fasciae is disturbed, this leads to tension, disturbed force transmission or incorrect body perception. It is believed that disruption of fascia function can be the cause of back pain and other ailments.
Fasciae are divided into three layers
There is not just one type of fascia in our body. Fasciae perform a variety of tasks. Accordingly, fasciae are divided into (at least) three different forms. For those who want to know more, the book Fascia – Tissue of Life: The Mysterious Network of the Body and Its Significance for Our Health provides a very detailed look at fascia.
Superficial fascia (Fascia superfiscialis) – the Bodysuit
The superficial fasciae surround our body like a suit (bodysuit). They hold and connect our organs and muscles, store fat and water and ensure that the organs can move. Over 80% of nerve endings are located in the superficial fasciae and thus provide us with information on the perception of our own body (proprioception).
Deep fasciae (septa and septa)
The deep fasciae are very rich in fibers and enclose
en individual muscle fibers, entire muscles, bones and joints. They can reach considerable thickness, such as the long fibrous band on the outside of the thighs or the plantar fascia that spans the arch of the foot.
The deep-lying fasciae have numerous nerves and receptors that respond to temperature and other chemical or mechanical stimuli. They provide us with information about movements of our body in space and the position of our body parts in relation to each other. For this reason – and because of the many nerve endings in the superficial fascia – some scientists refer to fascia as a sensory organ.
Visceral fascia is the term used to describe the part of connective tissue that surrounds and supports our internal organs
Structure and composition of fasc
consist primarily of water and proteins. The two structural proteins collagen and elastin are responsible for the lattice-like structure of the connective tissue. This makes it ideal for reacting to stress. When stretched, it pulls apart; when shortened, it folds together. The exact composition varies depending on the function. Sometimes the proportion of firm tissue is higher, sometimes the structure is rather loose.
Adhesive fascia as a cause of pain
Lymphatic passages and blood vessels run through the fasciae and ensure the supply of oxygen and all vital nutrients, but also the removal of waste products and toxins. To keep things running smoothly, we need to keep our bodies moving. Lack of movement and stress cause the fascia to stick together, the structure can change and the inflow of nutrients and the removal of waste products is disturbed. In the end, hard “muscle knots” can form that hurt. Often, mobility is also limited because muscle fibers no longer glide smoothly past each other.
A lack of hydration is also poison for our fasciae. In order for the collagen and elastin fibers to remain supple and downright slippery, they need sufficient moisture. Older people often drink too little, causing the fascia to stick together. This can lead to painful changes in the structure.
Exercise and adequate hydration are the friends of our fasciae. With targeted exercise, you can train your fascia, release adhesions, and (re)gain better overall mobility and body awareness.
Healthy fascia requires patience
If you start to train your fascia and support the connective tissue with targeted exercises, you need patience. It can take up to two years until the entire connective tissue has renewed itself. However, you will notice the first effects immediately after training or therapy of the fasciae Those who train regularly, however, will be richly rewarded. Fascia training can not only reduce cellulite, but also relieve pain and tension in the neck, shoulders and feet. For more on fascia training, see our article Fascia training: younger, smoother, more flexible by bouncing and rolling?
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