The more I learn about fascia, the more fascinated I become even after being in this field for going on 11 years (since 2008). The science we’re talking about today is pretty new, coming into public attention in 2018 (and brought to my attention in 2019).
Carla Stecco, a fascia researcher in Italy, discovered a new type of cell devoted to fascial GLIDING. She named this cell the fasciacyte. Fasciacytes exist inside the extracellular matrix (ECM) part of the fascial system. Your muscles rely on healthy fascia for GLIDING (as do your nerves and organs). Let’s dive into this below!
The extracellular matrix is a gooey, gluey, watery substance composed of macromolecules like collagen, enzymes and glycoproteins. If you want all the science, I recommend searching the web, buying Anatomy Trains or anything by Carla Stacco. Here’s my take on why this substance should matter to you: its a healthy ECM that allows your fascia to absorb mechanical stress or shock coming into the body. When it’s healthy, your fascial system (composed in part of the ECM) can distribute a LOT of potentially dangerous force throughout your whole body, rather than any one location taking the hit (like falling on your hip or simply standing on your feet all day). It’s really the quality of your ECM that determines the “hydration” levels of your fascia (in addition to good blood flow).
When fascia becomes “dehydrated” it’s the ECM that’s lost its water content, and when this happens your fascia first becomes GLUEY (because it’s now more glycoproteins, collagen and enzymes than it’s meant to be); and THIS – I postulate – is when/how fascial fibers stick to each other and forms adhesions or “knots”). If dehydration continues, eventually the fascia can become very fibrous and dense, even brittle. Additionally, you will feel impact sports a lot more in your JOINTS.
When the ECM is fluid and springy, you can run down mountains, jump from trees and act like a kid – and your joints won’t really feel it.
Most people don’t believe me, but I promise this is true when you OPTIMIZE your fascia. The ECM is also where the nutrients live that your cells need, and it’s where your cells excrete their waste to be carried out of the body.
Carla Stecco discovered that fasciacytes are responsible for fascial GLIDING. While the ECM needs to be healthy for your fascial system to have its spring (which is like your shock absorption), fasciacytes help muscle AND fascial fibers glide without sticking to one another. But she also discovered something else that made me jump out of my chair and yell out loud in nerdy elation: fasciacytes do NOT respond to compression and lengthening methods of manual therapy; they only respond to loaded compression combined with a “shearing” effect of the fascial fibers. This is what I have been doing with Kinetix since before 2011, and it’s what every Mobility Mastery fascia release technique tries to teach you. Carla Stecco proved this in her research lab, and there’s a paper you can go read if you are really into science and research papers. Here’s the link for you. THIS IS CRITICAL TO UNDERSTAND IF YOU WANT HEALTHY FASCIA.
Compression and stretching will definitely improve blood flow, move your lymph and positively impact your fascia. But if you want rapid pain relief, and fascia GLIDING – then you HAVE to compress that fascia with a heavy load and shear those fibers apart. Every technique I teach you attempts to do this, so you’re in the right place! And speaking of fascial gliding…
Fascial gliding is super important if you don’t want to walk around looking and feeling like the Tin Man! Your muscles, nerves and organs need to glide for you to move with fluidity.
Most of us take “fluidity” for granted until we get “old and stiff.” Right?
A fish can move effortlessly through water. Similarly, your muscles should be moving effortlessly through your watery fascial system…but if your fascia turns to glue (the first stage of dehydration), or styrofoam (a more advanced stage) or concrete (danger zone) – those muscle fibers won’t glide. And as you learned in point #2, the only way to restore fascial gliding is to shear those fascial fibers while under a heavy load.
Please use all the resources here at Mobility Mastery to restore youthful fluidity, glide and cellular hydration so your total body water content is HIGH (at or around 70% of your mass).
Share your takeaways below, and let me know how you’re going to use this information to restore your health and vibrancy, I can’t wait to read your comments!