What is Fascia?
And why is it so important?
A fascia is a band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs. Like ligaments, aponeuroses, and tendons, fascia is made up of fibrous connective tissue containing closely packed bundles of collagen fibers oriented in a wavy pattern parallel to the direction of pull. It is consequently flexible and able to resist great unidirectional tension forces until the wavy pattern of fibers has been straightened out by the pulling force (1).
It is the neuromuscular pathway that not only allows our muscles to connect and move with each other but hydrates, circulates and forms the structures for our posture. Fascia can be thought of as a web-like connective tissue that innervates and ties all of the body's systems and parts together into one cohesive unit. It is a vital and severely neglected part of human anatomy.
How does this affect our health?
When our connective tissue, the fascia, becomes damaged, the normal formation of the webbing becomes distorted in a number of ways. These fascial distortions or adhesions, which are dehydrated and dense tissue, prevent the normal functions that allow our bodies to operate at full efficiency. We should be able to full circulate blood from head to fingertips to toes, move freely without pain or inhibition, hydrate our muscles and organs fully, expel toxins, intake nutrients, breath deeply to our full lung capacity, and many more normal bodily functions. The entire system becomes increasingly degenerated over time leading to a number of preventable diseases and symptoms.
According to the American Fascial Distortion Model Association (2), there are 6 principle types of fascial distortions, each with its own body language, signature presentation and likely outcome with and without Fascial Distortion Model treatments.
● Triggerband (TB) - most common, twisted or wrinkled fascia along structures comprised primarily of linear fibers (fascial bands, ligaments, tendons)
● Herniated Triggerpoints (HTP) - Abnormal protrusions of tissue though a fascial plane, top of shoulder, deep in glute, edge of scapula, deep in tissues of arm and thigh, and the pelvic floor
● Continuum Distortion (CD) - Alteration of transition zone b/w ligament, tendon, or other fascia and bone, hurts in one specific spot, can occur alone or there may be many
● Folding Distortion (FD) - Three-dimensional alteration of fascial plane, common in tissue around joints, "an aching pain deep in the joint", joints that tend to swell/ache when weather changes
● Cylinder Distortion (CyD) - overlapping of cylindric coils of fascia, cause pain in non-jointed areas, responsible for symptoms like tingling, numbness, jumping pain, weakness ; can spread and jump to seemingly unrelated areas of the body
● Tectonic Fixation (TF) - Inability of fascial surfaces to glide, frozen shoulders, stiff backs, stiff joints
How Are Fascial Adhesions Formed?
These distortions are formed from stress, poor posture, shallow breathing, unhealthy lifestyles and diets, sports injuries, and repetitive stress injuries. The distortions or adhesions vary in size and type depending on the type of injury or dysfunction that caused them, the length of time since the adhesion formed, and any additional damage that has occurred since.
Some of these include but are not limited to:
● Recent or old whiplash injuries
● Lower back stiffness/pain
● Rotator cuff problems
● IT Band syndrome/patellar tracking dysfunction
● Medial or lateral epicondylitis (golfer's or tennis elbow)
● Shin splints
● Torticollis (wry-neck)
● Plantar fasciitis
● Scoliosis (functional)
● Repetitive Movements
Driving one arm
● Excessive Sitting