Muscle fascia, also known as fascia or myofascia, refers to a type of connective tissue that surrounds and separates muscles and other structures in the body. It is a fibrous, sheet-like structure composed primarily of collagen, a strong protein that provides support and structure to tissues. It forms a continuous network throughout the body, enveloping muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and organs, creating a unified system. Did you know that every single muscle, blood vessel and organ has its own wrap of fascia holding it in place? There is heaps of this stuff in our bodies.
When we move, our myofascia has to move too. Fascia can become restricted due to various factors like trauma, repetitive stress, inflammation, or poor posture. These restrictions may lead to pain, reduced flexibility, and movement dysfunction. It can be considered that your fascia needs to be flexible and free, for you and your movements to feel flexible and free.
So, why do we have fascia?
- Structural, joint and postural support. Fascia provides structural integrity to the body, helping to maintain the shape and alignment of muscle, joints and other tissues. You can think of myofascial 'slings' that link parts of your body and offer support. A well known one is the posterior sling that connects your lats ( back of your shoulder joints) to the lower back and glutes.
- Force transmission. Fascia acts as a conduit for transmitting forces generated by muscles to other parts of the body, allowing coordinated movement.
- Protection. Fascia protects underlying structures, such as muscles,organs, blood vessels, and nerves, from external impact and friction by wrapping around them.
Techniques like myofascial release ( a specialised modality of massage), massage, and stretching are commonly used to address fascial restrictions and restore optimal tissue function.