Fascia – what it is and what it does

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Fascia has become a bit of a buzzword. Originally used mainly as a means of rehabilitation, fascia training has now become a popular way of preventing injuries. But what exactly is fascia?

What is fascia?

The term fascia can be equated with the term "connective tissue" – which consists mainly of proteins and water. There are different types of connective tissue, depending on where they are located in the body. For example, the connective tissue surrounding the space between organs is fairly supple. The thin layer around our muscles, on the other hand, is very taut and can withstand strong tensile force.

Where is fascia found in the body?

The answer is: almost everywhere. Picture an orange. Inside, the pulp is covered in a fine web of white membranes. The exterior of the orange is formed by a firm skin, the peel. Just as the peel and membranes hold an orange together, the fascia gives our body its structure. Every organ, every muscle fibre and every capsule is enveloped by connective tissue. Fascia gives our body its shape. Without it, we would quite literally fall to pieces. And as if that weren't enough, fascia plays other vital roles in our bodies too.

What fascia does

  • Indispensable sensory organ: it informs our brain about tension and stretching in our muscles using various receptors. In every movement we make, fascia is responsible for transmitting force and for our ability to stretch. It transports the force of individual muscle fibres and enables bundles of muscle fibres to slide smoothly.
  • Defines our body shape: fascia protects and supports our bodies. It not only provides structure and a moveable wrapping, it also determines our body shape.
  • Supplies our organs: vessels such as arteries, veins, nerves and the lymph system run through the fascia.

How firm should connective tissue be?

Each person has their own unique connective tissue. It can range from "extremely mobile" in people with loose connective tissue right through to firm connective tissue in muscular, compact individuals. However, most people are not to be found at either end of the scale, but somewhere in between.

Is there a link with cellulite?

Men tend to have firmer connective tissue and women usually have softer fascial tissue. But please note, this is only a tendency. It can also be the other way around. However, cellulite and pregnancy stretch marks are more common in people with soft connective tissue, while those with firmer connective tissue tend to tear their Achilles tendons, for example.

Fascia training for stronger connective tissue

Fascia reacts to pressure and adapts itself accordingly. In other words, our connective tissue is constantly undergoing a renewal process. However, this takes time: about half of the fascial tissue is replaced after a year. That's why fascia training requires a little patience – long-term changes only become evident after several months of fascia training.

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