Fascia, also called connective tissue, is a white, slippery tissue that covers every muscle, bone, organ, nerve and tendon in the human body. Fascia separates muscle groups from one another so that they don’t get “globbed” together. It also connects your body and gives it structure and shape. Fascia is entirely connected in one giant web, down to the cellular level.
Fascia used to be considered junk tissue or packing material, responsible only for filling in the extra spaces in your body. We now understand just how important fascia is to our bodies’ health and structural integrity. Fascia has ten times the sensory ability of muscle. While muscle can sense changes in length via proprioceptive cells called muscle spindle fibers, fascia has four kinds of sensory cells that are designed to detect movements like vibration, stretching and shearing.
Fascia also has contractile ability. Kangaroos can jump much higher than their leg muscles should allow (i.e. their leg muscles are technically too weak for them to be able to jump as high as they do). Fascia is responsible for the extra spring in their step. Athletes who are excellent jumpers have great fascial integrity.
Because your fascia is connected throughout your body like a giant, three-dimensional web, if you injure your fascia in some way, that injury can cause myriad problems that are seemingly unrelated. Many of my neck pain clients are surprised when they come in and I start working with their feet. They exclaim that the pain is in their neck, but lo and behold, when they get off the table, the neck pain has diminished.
This is the magic of fascia – whether you’re working with it to restore proper posture and movement or training it to get greater athletic ability, fascia is an incredibly leveraged access point to take your body from ordinary to superhero. Because fascia is directly linked to your brain via the sensory cells, you’re working with your internal software to literally reprogram your movement.