If you've been to the clinic, you've likely heard us all talking about your fascial tissue. Here's a breakdown of what your myofascial /fascial tissue is.
1. Myofascia is a 3D matrix
Fascia forms a whole-body, continuous three-dimensional matrix of structural support around our organs, muscles, joints, bones and nerve fibers. This allows us to move in multiple directions.
2. Fascia is a force transmitter
Fascia helps prevent or minimize localized stress in a particular muscle, joint or bone, and it helps harness momentum created from the operating forces mainly through its viscoelastic properties. This protects the integrity of the body while minimizing the amount of fuel used during movement.
3. Repetition is good and bad
When we practice a movement repetitively, soft tissue will remodel itself in the direction of the desired movement so that the tissue becomes stronger at dealing with the forces in that particular direction. Long-term repetition can make fascia stiffer along the line of stress, but weaker in other directions, resulting in a possible higher frequency of tears in the fascia itself or immobility in the surrounding joints when moving in different directions.
4. Fascia can heal and hypertrophy (get stronger)
New studies demonstrate the fascia system’s ability to heal itself after being torn. As we learn more, we may see new types of rehabilitation techniques, as well as changes in what we believe to be ideal form for some exercises.
5. Fascia can contract
Myofibroblasts, which allow smooth-muscle-like contractions to occur, have been found in fascia. Numerous mechanoreceptors (Golgi tendon organs, Ruffini endings, Paciniform endings) have also been identified within the fascial matrix; these may be contributing to the smooth-muscle-like contractions and communicating with the central nervous system regarding the amount of shear forces within the connective tissue.
6. Fascia can act independently of the Central Nervous System
Fascia is always under tension as long as gravity is present. This pre-tension may also give us the ability to maintain posture with less fatigue and fascial strain as compared with constant muscle activation and energy expenditure.
7. Mood influences fascia
Trainers see this when clients show up after having a miserable day. Mood greatly influences posture, movement and proprioception. Perhaps enhancing mood may enhance the physical state through the fascial web.
8. Fascia allows us to train the body as a whole
The more we learn about our connective tissue, the more we can integrate it with the other systems of the body (muscular, nervous, skeletal) and gain further insight into human movement and performance. Training the body as a whole in three dimensions, as opposed to training isolated, segmented parts, may be a missing link in the exercise programs of people looking to maintain or improve the integrity of their bodies.