Fascia is a layer of tissue comprised of collagen that sits just underneath the skin, wraps around your muscles and all other internal organs. Essentially, fascia holds the body together and helps the body communicate from head to toe, right to left, front to back, inside and out. Fascia is how your body creates compensation patterns and why organ dysfunction can cause pain to other areas of your body.
Fascia is often overlooked by traditional medicine when addressing what is thought to be muscular or joint pain. Outside the area of immediate pain, fascia is virtually unrecognized by insurance companies, and thus is often not addressed by many insurance based health care practices and providers.
Fascia is distinctive from fatty tissue and muscle tissue in texture, function and appearance. You have seen fascia on the outside of chicken breast. You may have noticed that this thin whitish layer on the outside of chicken breast gets thicker at the ends or maybe in a particular line or path along the meat. This is because fascia is very adaptive and changes by increasing or decreasing thickness, tension, and glide to meet the needs of your body.
Think about cotton candy for a minute. If you’ve ever watched it being spun, it is very whispy to begin with, but as the little paper cone gets swiped around the spinner and more cotton candy is gathered on the cone, the more densely the fibers are compiled and the more difficult it is to pull apart. When there isn’t much cotton candy it’s very wispy and easy to wipe away.
The same applies to fascia. Your body is constantly laying down fascia in areas of stillness. When you first wake in the morning or after you’ve been sitting for an extended period of time, and you stand up, you feel the need to take a deep breath and do this big reaching amazing stretch. That stretch is basically melting away any fascia that has laid down during that period of stillness. If you do not move an area for a period of time, the little layers of fascia that are being laid down continue to build on one another creating greater tension in the area and in turn often decreasing range of motion in the area.