What is fascia?

Welcome to the world of the in-between!  Fascia surrounds everything, connects everything, from the tiniest detail between our cells to the outermost layer of our skin.

The incredible significance of myo-fascia (myo = muscle), the muscular connective tissue, has long been underestimated in many forms of movement practice. It was even called the ‘cinderella’ tissue!  Fascia is the main building material in our bodies and the fabric to our form!

Recent findings show that the collagenous network of fascia is instrumental in force transmission for any movement in the body and plays a vital role for flexibility, elasticity and body awareness.

 

We are just beginning to understand how very important fascia is to understanding movement since it is the tissue of connection between all our parts. The study of fascia does not replace musculoskeletal anatomy but rather includes, enhances and evolves it. 

Besides movement fascia enables our ‘proprioception’, the awareness of where we are in space and our ‘interoception’, our awareness of the processes and states within the body. It is our 6th sense, a portal to the within and the without.  It really plays a big part in our experience of any movement practise.

The continuous network of fascia in the body

The continuous network of fascia in the body

The paradigm shift

'The simple questions discussed in musculoskeletaltextbooks 'which muscles are participating in a particular movement thus becomes almost obsolete.  Muscles are not functional units, no matter how common this misconception may be. Rather, most muscular movements are generated by many individual motor units, which are distributed over some portions of one muscle, plus other portions of other muscles. The tensional forces of these motor units are then transmitted to a complex network of fascial sheets, bags and strings that convert them into the final body movement.'                                                                                                                                                                                                            (Schleip, 2012)

 

AN ANATOMY OF CONTINUITY

The myo-fascia, referring to the fascia that encases the muscle morphs into the tendon – there is no end or beginning, there is just a change in structure, in composition – due to different mechanical loading that is applied on the different tissues.  Everything is connected!

This has important implications for our understanding of force transmission.  In the traditional mechanistic model of anatomy,  the skeleton is moved byisolated muscles and the forces could be easily calculated using the laws of mechanics and trigonometry.

We now know that 30% of force generated by the muscle ends up in the surrounding fascia with an impact on the surrounding muscles and joints. The simple and clean equation of muscles operating in isolation does not hold up anymore.

 

The myo-fascia, referring to the fascia that encases the muscle' morphs into the tendon – there is no end or beginning, there is just a change in structure, in composition – due to different mechanical loading that is applied on the different tissues.  Everything is connected!

This has important implications for our understanding of force transmission.  In the traditional mechanistic model of anatomy,  the skeleton is moved byisolated muscles and the forces could be easily calculated using the laws of mechanics and trigonometry.

We now know that 30% of force generated by the muscle ends up in the surrounding fascia with an impact on the surrounding muscles and joints. The simple and clean equation of muscles operating in isolation does not hold up anymore.