If you’re like me, you’ve probably never heard of fascia. So, what is fascia? Fascia is the thin casing of connective tissue that surrounds and holds in place every organ, blood vessel, bone, nerve fiber, and muscle. In short, it plays a vital role in the health of the human body and can determine the quality of your health and wellness. Primarily composed of collagen, it provides internal structure to the body. Like anything, once the structure weakens or deteriorates the structure fails.
Most people take healthy fascia for granted as it’s a forgotten component of the body. But when it’s failing, it’s noticeable. Healthy fascia can provide many benefits. Among them are improved body alignment, increased blood flow, more elasticity in the skin, reduced risk of injury, less daily pain, and overall improved sports performance. Lifestyle plays a key role in keeping fascia healthy. Most individuals who report aches and pains in their body are plagued by issues with this forgotten connective tissue. People with sedentary lifestyles, poor eating habits, poor posture, poor sleep quality and stress all can see declining levels of fascia health.
So…what are some strategies for improving this most pivotal sensory organ.
· Daily Stretching-Stretching can help relieve tension and elongate the muscles.
· Get Moving-Fascia feels better with movement and can help bring back the tissue’s elasticity.
· Hit the Sauna-The heat will penetrate the neuromuscular system and delay the onset of muscle soreness and improve post workout recovery.
· Try Cryotherapy-Ice therapy helps to reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain.
· Stay hydrated-In a dehydrated body, fascia can adhere together thus preventing fluidity and causing stiffness and pain. (Remember to drink at least half your body weight in fluid ounces of water daily).
Have you ever heard the saying, “Abs are made in the kitchen”? The same applies to fascia health. The health of your body and especially good fascia begins with nutrition. You can move and manipulate every physiological aspect of the human body but without good nutrition, the foundation is missing. Two key areas at the kitchen table impact this connective tissue more than anything and they are water and protein.
Water doesn’t just carry oxygen and nutrients to cells…It is the fluid that cushion your joints! The oil for your body….
As fascia is primarily collagen, the makeup is of protein molecules from amino acids.
On top of the vital two macronutrients, observing an overall healthy diet will go a long way in achieving maximal wellness and a great quality of life pain free. Obesity places excessive pressure and stress on joints and muscles. Keeping your body composition in check by consuming less trans and saturated fats and more complex carbohydrates and unsaturated fats will increase glycogen levels in the blood and provide you with energy to participate in daily activities and fitness. Simply put, good nutrition inhibits good tendencies that will lead to optimal fascia health.
So, you have good nutrition and consume a quality diet. Now what? One area of fitness that stands above and beyond any other workout for fascia is Yoga. Originated in India, the practice of Yoga focuses on the mind and body through physical postures, breathing techniques, meditation, and relaxation. Specifically, to fascia, Yoga aims to restore our fascial fluidity by stretching and easing fiber webbings. By performing myofascial release, which is gentle pressure to the connective tissue restrictions this will help to eliminate pain and restore mobility. Performing Yoga on a routine basis will aid in being able to perform life activities on a day to day basis.
Taking care of your fascia is taking care of your body. By paying attention to your nutrition, body composition and fitness you care about your health and wellness. Ultimately, it’s your choice whether you want to live a life minimizing pain or have a great amount. But, if you enjoy being pain free, you might want to put fascia health at the top of your list.
Muscle pain: It may actually be your fascia. (n.d.). Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/muscle-pain-it-may-actually-be-your-fascia
Minnis (DPT), G. (2021, January 20). 10 Ways to Keep Your Fascia Healthy so Your Body Moves Pain-Free. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/fascia
Weiler, M. (2020, June 01). Fascia and yoga. Retrieved from https://www.ekhartyoga.com/articles/anatomy/fascia-and-yoga#:~:text=When%20we%20have%20a%20restriction,and%20restore%20our%20fascial%20fluidity!
Werner, D. (2020, May 06). Fascia: What you need to know about your connective tissue! Retrieved from https://www.foodspring.co.uk/magazine/fascia-what-you-need-to-know