The Truth About Fascia – It Doesn’t Just ‘Wrap’ Muscles & It Might Just be the Fountain of Youth!

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So you’ve heard a bit about fascia by now..but do you really know what it is and how it functions in your body?

Fascia (otherwise known as connective tissue) has become quite the buzzword. Which is awesome!

When I started working with fascia in 2008 very few of my new clients knew what it was. Now fascia is a huge topic getting a lot of attention and all of my clients have at least heard of it. Many of the articles I read are spot on. And, a lot of them are – in my opinion – missing what I consider to be the most important details about this critical tissue.

If you’ve been wondering what all the fuss is about, this post is for you!

What is fascia?

In its simplest definition, fascia is a collagen-like substance that separates and connects almost everything in the human body.

Most people are familiar with the kind of fascia found in a steak or chicken breast, because this is similar to the fascia that wraps our muscles – and this is still what most people think of when they hear the word fascia.

But what most people do NOT know is just how much fascia we have, how critical it is for our entire well being and that it’s found in the tiniest of places down to the cellular level.

We have more fascia than anything else, certainly more than muscles and bones!

Fascia wraps every single nerve ending and nerve, every fibril of muscle tissue as well as the fiber (which is made up of multiple fibrils); it wraps every muscle bundle and muscle group and then turns into tendon and ligament (also fascia), which connects to our bones, also wrapped in fascia. It wraps our organs too.

When we observe fascia at the microscopic level and THEN zoom out, things get really interesting. This is about to get sciency, so hang with me.

Why is fascia so critical?

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I think we can all agree that nerves – and the nervous system – are critical for us to function optimally every moment we’re alive, right?

Well…

Every nerve in the body is a cordlike structure containing bundles of axons. Within a nerve each axon is surrounded by a layer of connective tissue (fascia) called the endoneurium. The axons are bundled together into groups called fascicles, and each fascicle is wrapped in a layer of connective tissue called the perineurium. Then, the entire nerve is wrapped in a layer of connective tissue called the epineurium.

Fascia wraps each part of a nerve and every nerve in its entirety, and we have a hundred billion of them!

The implications of this fact alone are enormous, and largely unstudied or talked about.

The nervous system is the master regulator of everything that happens to and within us in our lifetimes. Every thought we think produces a feeling, and every single feeling is FELT in the body as sensation, via the nervous system.

I’m convinced the fascia feels everything that our nerves do – perhaps on an even more intense or widespread level.

Take fear for example: whenever we feel fear we tend to experience it as anxiety or adrenaline, tension or stress. When we feel joy it’s often described as light, expansive, buoyant. Our feelings and actions every day direct the hormone cocktail released by the brain to regulate whatever state(s) we’re in.

Literally everything that happens to us in life – good and bad – is felt and recorded within the fascial structure or system.

I also have it on good authority (from an orthopedic surgeon) that fascia bleeds a LOT more than muscle when cut into. Fascia contains more of our blood supply than anything else. This fact alone also gives fascia an incredibly important role – by being the main source of fresh blood within the body.

Healthy fascia gives us “spring” (aka, it’s our shock absorption!)

All connective tissue has within it something called ground substance, one of the most important elements in the human body.

Ground substance is an amorphous gel like substance that surrounds every cell; it contains the nutrients that FEED every cell in our body, AND it takes the waste excreted by every cell and ushers it out of our body.

So basically – fascia is our nutrient AND waste distributor!

That’s not all though…

Read More

Knee Pain – The #1 Cause (It’s NOT What You Think) + How to Foam Roll for Knee Pain

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Knee pain.

I know first hand how excruciating knee pain can be, and it stopped me from being able to run or hike for 8 and 6 years respectively. Little did I know there was one major cause that never would have occurred to me, and there was a simple solution!

What prompted this post was several of you that I know and love who are far away, have terrible knee pain and can’t come and see me for 1-1 work. You guys have been telling me how horrible it is and asking me “what can I do?!”

I couldn’t sit back and not give you something to try on your own!

The IT Band is notoriously blamed for knee pain, but I have not found it to be a major cause. It certainly can contribute, as can other factors like tight hips or a history of sprained ankles. But 70-80% of the time it is something quite surprising (that quickly becomes obvious).

Find out what the main cause is in the first video, and then I’ll teach you how to foam roll to target this one specific spot.

Keep in mind that this is addressing the #1 cause, but not ALL causes. Foam rolling for pain relief takes longer than coming to see me in my private practice (for many reasons), but it can still be effective. Give it at least a week.

Let me know how this works for you, and if you have questions feel free to comment or write me!

 

What is Fascia and Why Should We Care?

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If I could have every person on this planet study just ONE thing to stay healthy, it would be the fascial system. In a previous post I shared a video by Thomas Myers, who is the fascia expert of our time. He does a wonderful job explaining what fascia is and I recommend you watch that video as well if you’re committed to learning about your fascia. And I wanted to share some of my own thoughts here.

We have more fascia than anything else in our bodies. Fascia (or connective tissue) is the name we give to the web-like structure of tissues that hold us together, from the cellular level to the “sacs” that wrap huge muscle groups.

To the right is a small picture of the fascial system, and you can see how it wraps every individual muscle fibril, fiber, bundle and entire groups of muscles, and then all of that connecting fascia is what turns into tendon and ligament, which in turn attaches to our bones or joints.

All of that fascia is meant to be elastic and flexible and able to move with us freely as we go about our lives and sports. But almost everyone I know today has unhealthy fascia (myself included). Even if you’re not in pain, it doesn’t mean your fascia is in optimal health! And if you are in pain, then your fascia is especially unhealthy and in a state of imbalance.

Fascia is the superhighway for communication from the brain to the body and back again. It houses our nervous system and is the channels through which blood needs to flow to nourish tissues, muscles, joints and organs.

When our fascia is adhered to itself and in a state of dehydration and unhealthy tension then blood won’t flow freely through the body, which can cause all manner of “itis’s” (inflammatory responses like tendinitis, arthritis, bursitis etc). Those knots you feel in your shoulders? That’s not tightness and it’s NOT your muscle! It’s fascia that’s adhered to itself because it’s being pulled on (or overstretched) by bigger more dominant muscles or postural habits, and it’s forming “knots” in an attempt to stay where it belongs instead of being pulled somewhere else.

Imbalances in the fascial system left to right and front to back (leg leg to right leg, or front to back in your legs or upper body) will cause everything from plantar fasciitis to low back and hip pain to shoulder range of motion issues.

When we release tight fascia and put space back into that connective tissue system, blood flows freely, movement becomes fluid and pain stops.

I recently had a client tell me he believes his stigmatism is getting better after just two sessions of opening the fascia in his upper body! I’ve had other clients who came for shoulder pain or migraines tell me they’re seeing better after we unblock the “dams” (tight fascia) blocking blood flow to the ocular nerve!

I could go on and on, and geek out on this all day! But I’ll leave at this for today: fascia is extremely important and if you want to take responsibility for your body’s health, I cannot recommend enough that you start learning more about it and how to stretch it properly and keep it healthy. Which is precisely what I intend to help you do here at Mobility Mastery.

 

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