What is Fascia?

August 21st, 2013 Written by Ashley Black

15-DaVinciFasciaFascia is the most under-studied and misunderstood system of the body, although it was discovered a long time ago. In fact, DaVinci was the first known artist to dissect and depict fascia in a drawing. Many have studied fascia over the years, but as previously mentioned, fascia has not made it into medical, fitness and beauty based schooling as more than a side note. Those of us who are in the field pioneering treatments and studying fascia, know that it is indeed one of the most important systems of the body.

Fascia runs in strips, inside structures, in “blank space” and around the spine. It is literally one big piece from head to toe, hand to hand, inside to out and everywhere in between. If we could dissect the fascia out independently, we would look like a big ball of cotton candy in the shape of a human form. Fascia also houses nerves and blood in a unique way, connecting it to neurological and blood disorders. It also connects muscle to muscle, which defies traditional modeling for biomechanics. It reacts to protect structural imbalances by constricting, which challenges all body work and lymphatic modeling.Fascia covers the brain as well as other organs, impacting the foundation of internal medicine. It’s existence and the knowledge of how to treat it could very well be the biggest medical/performance advancement in modern history.

The Ashley Black Fasciology curriculum identifies 4 types of fascia

25-structural-fasciaStructural Fascia

These are the long lines of thicker denser fascia that run throughout the body. Structural Fascia is clearly visible in the dissections of Tom Meyers and are imaged in his book Anatomy Trains. These lines can run from the tips of the toes to the brow bone, from thumb to thumb, from inside to out and in some cases spiraling through the body. The fibers of Structural Fascia have the ability to contract, relax and stretch, just as muscles do. These lines cross in the body like highways and interchanges. They have the ability to pull the skeleton as well as surrounding structures out of alignment. Where structural fascia crosses, it has the capability of jamming and adhering joints, including structures of the vertebral column. In meats such as ribs, the structural fascia is the silver lining and in chicken just inside the skin is a silky membrane.

24-cleanupInter-Structural Fascia

This is the cob-web-like fascia found within the body. The Inter-Structural Fascia of muscles contracts, relaxes and stretches with the muscle fibers. They are clearly visible in edible meat products such as chicken and steak when the muscles fibers are pulled apart. Inter-Structural Fascia also penetrates and surrounds the brain, organs, cartilage, blood vessels, nerves and literally every system of the body. The Inter-Structural Fascia is highly adhesive. When this type of fascia adheres, it can stick to other fascial fibers within the structure, the fibers of a single structure, as well as sticking two or more structures together. This adhesive process interrupts the function of the structures.


Visceral Fascia

This jello-like quality fascia is primarily found in the abdominal cavity. Visceral fascia is the only fascia that can change properties as documented in “Strolling Beneath the Skin.”  The visceral fascia interacts with all of the structures including the other types of fascia inside the “blank spaces of the body.” Visceral Fascia is highly protective in nature and when tight, will restrict all of the functions of the adjoining structures.

Spinal FasicaSpinal Fascia

Here is Inter-Structural Fascia, Structural Fascia and Visceral Fascia found inside and around the spine. The Spinal Fascia is special because it is fibrously dense and encases the spinal cord like a thick straw. The other types of fascia connect to this straw-like casing and burst out like sunbeams through the abdominal cavity. Understanding how to impact this deep fascia can dramatically aide in the treatment of back pain related to the narrowing of this column.

With the knowledge and understanding of fascia and years of hands-on experience manipulating fascia, a Fasciologist can make improvements to the body that most people just don’t understand. Integrating this knowledge of fascia and how it’s related to movement allows for permanent results in these changes. To learn more about changing the physical structure click Manual Fascia Treatment or Stretching Fascia Treatment and to learn more about fascia-changing mechanics click Exercise Fascia Treatment and Mechanical Awareness.

To help understand the process of how fascia can affect your life, view our fascia chart.

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