This is EPISODE 2 of our #FastFasciaFacts series, where I list 3 important facts about fascia that will help you understand this part of your body, and how to work with it to achieve optimal health.
- Fascial junctions get the most congested.
- Fascia can withstand up to 2,000lbs of force without deforming.
- Fascia assists in cell to cell and brain body communication.
Why the above matters:
1. When it comes to fascial adhesions or fascial restriction, I’ve learned after nearly 11 years working with my in person clients that the most congested areas of fascia happen at junctions. For example: your IT Band fascia can lose its water content (which doesn’t mean its dry, it actually gets STICKY before it becomes brittle), becomes like velcro and stick to your hamstring or quad fascia. It makes sense doesn’t it that those thick outer sheaths of fascia would get the most stuck to each other? In our above example of the IT Band getting stuck to the hamstrings, this scenario can result in glute or posterior hip pain and even plantar fasciitis! But what a lot of people don’t realize is that fascia can also get congested where a muscle group meets the fascia that wraps a bone (like your femur or thigh bone), and most interesting of all it can get congested where organs meet muscle meet bones…in your abdominal cavity for example, or along your anterior iliac crest (front hip bony junction). Implications for all kind of pain, deep to the bone, within the fascia/muscle system itself and with organs are far and wide.
2. When trying to work with fascia in an attempt to change it, it’s critical to understand that fascia is nearly as strong as steel! It can withstand up to 2,000lbs of force before it deforms (aka, changes). Because of this, I believe fascia won’t change easily…and it was designed that way by nature. This might be the most controversial point I’ve ever made, because I don’t believe most massage modalities can change fascia nor do I believe you can “release” fascia with yoga or stretching. Understanding this point is one of the most important things to know if you want to effectively change your body for the better. One of fascia’s jobs is to protect each individual element. To do so, fascia was granted the ability to contract independent of muscle tissue to protect from danger (as you learned last week due to its own contractile cells).
Your body doesn’t necessarily know the difference between someone about to punch you and someone pressing into your body with the intention to “release” fascia. GOOD NEWS: fascia WILL change, and it can change very quickly too (sometimes in a matter of 30 seconds in my office).
The best way to create effective change within the fascial system is to recruit it to change itself. This is done by active engagement of brain and body working together.
You (your beliefs and values) have a profound effect on whether your body (and thus your fascia) thinks you’re in danger or not. Your nervous system patterns will impact this greatly. So whatever modality you choose, make sure your beliefs are aligned with the modality, and your brain and body are engaged in creating the intended change together.
BONUS tip: if you don’t feel safe, you won’t change your fascia. Work on finding the edge of what’s uncomfortable when it comes to fascial release (which can be intense work), while always feeling SAFE.
3. Fascia (or connective tissue) is made up in part of something called the Extra Cellular Matrix or ECM, and the ECM assists in cell to cell and and brain body communication. The ECM is basically a superhighway through which nerve impulses travel through your body. Fascia wraps every nerve ending, which assists in nerve communication between nerve receptor sites AND brain and body (not just cell to cell). Because fascia wraps every nerve ending, there’s an intimate relationship between your fascial system and your nervous system. Your nervous system regulates sympathetic and parasympathetic responses (fight/flight/freeze or relaxation to simplify, but there’s a lot more to it than this).
My theory on this is that whatever your nervous system feels consistently, and whatever meaning your nervous system makes out of those nerve impulses (such as consistent feelings of safety or danger) will be reflected by the texture of your fascia.
Stress/trauma/not feeling safe = brittle fascia which leads to higher pain, tension or injury potential.
Relaxation, fun, play = supple, fluid resilient fascia.
Share your takeaways in the comments below, and for extra credit share how you plan to use this information to heal from injury or trauma or achieve optimal health.