Bet you haven’t heard the term “Fascia” before right?
Fascia has got to be one of the most important system that runs throughout our bodies; and despite its importance, many of us are unknown to this system. I promise you that you’d not only be a tad smarter by the end of this article but you’ll also know how to take better care of your body!
Alright then, so what is fascia?
Fascia is our body’s connective tissues and they’re E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E. It is literally all over our body. It has an appearance similar to a spider’s web that intertwines and weaves between our muscles, bones, nerves, veins and even major internal organs like our heart, lungs and spinal cord. Believe it or not, the fascial system is one continuous system that is unbroken and all interlinked.
And if you haven’t already realised, fascia plays a huge role in supporting and protecting every single part of our body and even the whole body as a unit.
So how does this fascia affect me?
As mentioned earlier, the fascial system runs throughout our bodies and acts as a supportive and protective layer for our body. Fascia acts as a gel-like lubricant that allows the various parts of our bodies to glide smoothly against each other. As such, this reduces the friction of muscular force.
When fascia is in its normal and proper state, it should be flexible enough to allow our bodies to bend but still strong enough to hold together and not break apart.
However, the malleable state of fascia can be abnormal when our bodies are in an unnatural state. For example:
- Trauma – e.g. A fall, car accident or surgery that causes our bodies’ tissues and/or organs to be injured
- Poor posture – puts our bodies in an unnatural state (read more here)
- Repetitive stress injuries – includes overused and strained muscles
Due to the protective nature of fascia, it compensates and balances our bodies whenever our bodies are not in a natural state. When our body is subjected to the above situations, our fascial system creates more adhesions that cause it to become tighter, stiffer and more distorted than it should be. As a result, this added fascial restrictions can cause an increased pressure and tightness to your overall body.
A few common problems that may be caused by fascial restrictions are:
- Chronic back and neck pains
- Muscles spasms and/or pains
- Poor posture
- Reduced flexibility
And yes, your body’s fascia can be the cause of these pains that you might be experiencing.
Ok, you got me. How do I take care of it then?
I’ll be sharing with you 3 tips on how you can take care of your body’s fascial system and how to properly maintain it.
1. Drink sufficient water
The most common analogy of how fascia works is by comparing it to a sponge. When it is wet and soaked with water, it is soft but resilient. However, when dried up, it gets crisp and brittle. Hence, with our fascia acting like a gel between our body parts, it is important to keep it malleable to allow our bodies to easily bend and move. When it is dehydrated, this may cause our fascia layers to gel together, making our bodies become more brittle and susceptible to injuries.
Drinking 8 cups of water a day is not a myth! In fact, it does your body a huge favour!
2. Having enough rest a.k.a. SLEEP
Your parents nagging at you to sleep early isn’t just an old wives’ tale. There’s a Chinese saying that goes “早睡早起身体好” which translates into “sleeping early and waking up early is good for your body” and it is true!
We all know that as we sleep, our bodies are hard at work restoring and repairing. Having sufficient rest also helps our tissues rehydrate. This means that drinking sufficient water is not enough to keep our fascia in good condition. Drinking water should also be complemented with having enough rest to allow water to be taken in by our body’s fascial system.
3. Stretching & Massaging
As you get older, more often than not, people tend to attribute their body pains and/or aches to aging. While it is true to a certain extent, most times it is due to bad habits or poor postures that mould our fascia accordingly. Once that happens, and if we do not stretch regularly, this results in our fascia taking upon an unnatural state that eventually becomes stiff and tight. This can lead to chronic pains.
For example, when your computer is not propped up, such that you’re looking at the computer screen at eye level, and your neck is constantly bent, fascia residing in that area will likewise be bent. Without stretching or massaging, the fascia in the area becomes tight and stiff, which leads to tightness in your neck and shoulder areas, hence, causing chronic neck and shoulder pains.
Stretches for fascia are not limited to these few stretches! There are numerous articles that talk about the different type of fascia stretching you can do before sleeping, when you wake up or basic mid-day stretches. Another method to stretch and massage the problem area is the use of foam rollers.
Pretty sure you feel a tad smarter now, don’t you? You’ve probably heard these tips before, but I bet you didn’t know they were linked to the fascial system! If all of these is too much information for you to absorb, the main takeaway is to just remember that your body’s spider web system is essential to your being and its maintenance (of hydrating and stretching) is of utmost importance!
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