Fascia seems to be the new trending word in the health and fitness industries. During my entire career as a manual therapist, I’ve worked with professional athletes who suffered from fascial restrictions. Yet, when I would say the word “fascia” to my clients, the question I typically got was “what is fascia?” Even some of those with medical backgrounds were fuzzy on the role fascia plays in our day-to-day.
Hundreds of health, pain, and and even beauty issues we face stem from fascia! Fascia’s role is so significant that it cannot be removed from any human condition. So without further ado, here is a quick glance into the world of fascia and my take on it. I hope you will have many “aha” moments reading through this information - and if this is the first you’ve heard of fascia, prepare to have your mind blown!
What is fascia?
Simply put, fascia is the body’s connective tissue. It is a head to toe, inside to out, all-encompassing and interwoven system of fibrous connective tissue found throughout the body. Your fascia provides a framework that helps support and protect individual muscle groups, organs, and the entire body as a unit.
For those of you who are visual learners, you can imagine your skin is like the rind of an orange. So, if your skin is the outer layer of the orange peel, the thicker, white, fibrous layer that lies almost immediately beneath the peel would be your fascia. Just as that thicker layer completely surrounds the inside of the orange, the same holds true to your fascia. We all have a layer of fascia directly beneath the skin that completely envelopes the body, giving another protective barrier between the skin and the deeper soft tissue.
If you want to read more about the different types of fascia and their effect on the human body - be sure to check out the section on the “The 4 types of Fascia”.
I’ve spent almost two decades studying existing research on fascia and I have so much respect for every fascia pioneer. While existing fascia research has done a fantastic job highlighting the importance of the fascial system, I wanted to bring it to a level that each and every person could understand. I’m sure you’ve heard it countless times before - each system of our body plays an important role that affects the other systems. This rings especially true with fascia! The vitality and strength of your fascia is key to good health and synergy throughout each system of your body. I am beyond excited to share this insight and knowledge of the amazing benefits you can experience once you have the proper tools and “know-how” of the fascial system.
How could we miss an entire system of the body that affects virtually every other system? Why is the everyday person still SO uninformed when it comes to fascia?
How does fascia affect me?
Fascia provides the protective sheath around our entire body as a whole and also surrounds each organ and muscle for protection from outside trauma. Our fascia also plays an important supportive role to the musculoskeletal system by enabling us to perform functional activities like going from sitting to standing and being able to walk, jump and run. Blood, nerves, and muscles are enveloped and penetrated by fascia, allowing your muscles and organs to glide smoothly against each other. When you have fascial adhesions and distortions, this can cause poor blood flow, weaker nerve impulses, limited flexibility and range of motion, and a host of other physical ailments.
Pain and Fascia
So much pain, tightness, and discomfort is unnecessarily caused by distorted fascia. Distortions in fascia can pull, torque, and compress the body into malalignment. Studies show that fascial tension in one structure - such as the knee - can cause tension or issues in adjacent structures, such as the hip or ankle. Some common conditions you may have heard of like Plantar Fasciitis, IT Band Syndrome, and frozen shoulder are all attributed to distortions in your fascia.
Nerves & Fascia
When the fascia is tight, it can constrict the nerves and actually block off the nerve signal! The Autonomic Nervous System (nervous system that controls bodily functions not directed by conscious thought – i.e. breathing) is directly connected and has innervation with the body’s fascial system.
Blood & Fascia
The fascia facilitates the flow of your circulatory system. Veins and arteries run through the fascia, and if the fascia is tight or adhered, it causes restriction - like a kink in a garden hose. This would lead to poor blood flow, which means less oxygen and nutrients are being delivered to your cells.
Have you ever been sitting with your legs crossed and your leg falls asleep? Are your feet and hands constantly cold? This is due to tight fascia clamping down and impeding the blood flow.
Skin & Fascia
The condition of our skin can be affected by the state of our fascia. Not many people understand the impact of blood and fascia, and how it relates to the quality of our skin. Elastin and Collagen are two proteins which are essential to maintaining healthy, youthful skin. Nutrients are carried through the blood to the skin, and when the fascia is distorted, it limits the supply of these proteins. This can cause a decrease in cell turnover, which is responsible for the natural, healthy glow we all strive to maintain.
It baffles me that we try to treat our skin from the outside, when it’s what's going on inside that determines health of the skin. If you want youthful, healthy skin, take care of your fascia and keep the blood a’ flowing!
Cellulite & Fascia
Believe it or not, even those pesky dents and dimples, that we all know as “cellulite” are also due to unhealthy fascia! Most people think cellulite is a fat issue, when in reality it is caused by distortions in your connective tissue - fascia! When the fascia is adhesed, it can pull the skin inward and, as the fat pushes through the fascia, it creates the dents and crevices we call “cellulite”.
Anyone of any age, size, fitness level, or body type can have smooth skin if they have healthy fascia. Read more about how I define the different types of cellulite and how to get rid of them!
How am I hurting my fascia?
Whether you are the poster child of healthy living, or suffer from a serious health condition, we all do little things everyday that can negatively impact our fascia. Most of us are unaware that the way we walk, stand, and even sit can hurt our fascia. Each step you take with poor form or symmetry will create a microtrauma in the body that your fascia will have to compensate for. If you have an old injury that never properly healed, your fascia is working hard to make up for the imbalance.
Fascia is protective by nature, and it will adhere to protect or atone for imbalances. Imagine that your fascia is putting a band-aid over every microtrauma! The band-aids are piling up, and eventually you have a big, adhered mess! This “mess” is what I’m referring to when I talk about tight, distorted fascia.
If you want to learn more about the external factors that can hurt your fascia, I explore those in depth in my book “ The Cellulite Myth ” that comes out on February 7th, 2017!
How can I restore my fascia?
While there is still so much we don’t know about fascia, I wanted to highlight what we do know about restoring and maintaining healthy fascia, and ensuring it it working along with our other systems, instead of against them.
I cannot stress enough how important good nutrition is to every single system. It’s not just about how you look - it’s about giving your body the fuel it needs to function, repair and thrive! If you’re constantly putting toxins in your body, it will negatively affect your fascia! Nutrition is not alternative medicine, it is the foundation of life!
There’s a fluid in the fascia that flows around the cells delivering nutrients and removing waste and toxins. When you’re sufficiently hydrated, this fluid flows abundantly and freely, your body functions correctly, and you’re able to move and operate without pain.
Check your Posture
Proper Biomechanics (the way you move your body) is key to keeping your fascia healthy. If you have poor posture and weak stabilizing muscles, that will cause the microtraumas that hurt your fascia. I specifically designed my I.C.E.® DVD series to teach you how to strengthen your core, become structurally sound, fix misalignments and experience a head to toe "muscle memory makeover".
Stretching and Exercise
Regular physical activity keeps fascia healthy by promoting good blood flow, muscle activation, and neural activity. Regular stretching and exercise reduces tension and fascial restriction, which will keep you in tip-top shape.
Fascia is malleable and has the ability to change states. So just as the adhesions have formed, they can be released. The FasciaBlaster® is the only self-use tool that’s specially designed to break up fascial adhesions!
The FasciaBlaster® restores healthy fascia, reduces the appearance of “cellulite”, improves muscle performance, nerve activity and circulation, reduces pain, … and LOTS more!BUY NOW
This blog is by no means a comprehensive look at fascia; it’s simply a snapshot of just how amazing and important this complex system is.
My hope is that as more people learn about fascia they’ll become more aware of their bodies and learn how to take their health back into their own hands! I believe healthy fascia is key to anti-aging, staying pain and injury-free, and optimizing your overall performance.
I hope that after reading this “Fascia 101” article, you will want to dive head first into the Ashley Black Guru world and become a part of this movement.
Here’s how get connected and become a part of our Hybrid Health movement:
I want you to learn how to treat yourself and to look at your body and health destiny in a more empowered way so you can benefit the way I, and so many others have, too.