Fascia is a thin casing of connective tissue that surrounds and holds every organ, blood vessel, bone, nerve fibre and muscle in place. This tissue does more than provide internal structure; fascia has nerves that make it almost as sensitive as skin. When stressed, it tightens up.
Although fascia looks like one sheet of tissue, it is made up of multiple layers with liquid in between called hyaluronan. It is designed to stretch as you move. But there are certain things that cause fascia to thicken and become sticky. When it dries up and tightens around muscles, it can limit mobility and cause painful knots to develop.
Healthy fascia is smooth and slippery, but our lifestyle, including too little physical movement, or repetitive movement that overworks part of the body, can cause the fascia to become thickened and dehydrated, to create ‘adhesions’ within the fascia. Trauma and surgery can also have profound effects.
These adhesions tend to feel better with movement, they also respond well to heat therapy, which helps bring back the tissue’s elasticity. For some people, they can worsen over time, causing the fascia to compress and contort the muscles it surrounds. This can result in hard, tender knots in the muscles, called trigger points. Myofascial pain syndrome is a condition in which those trigger points cause pain to occur.
Working to restore the health of the fascia is working to restore the health of your body.