Fascia is everywhere. It connects by way of a multi-layered web-like system that wraps, surrounds and weaves through our entire bodies, from skin to bone and from head to toes. Its’ multifaceted role separates, connects, supports, balances, gives tension and gives compression allowing for movement while transferring loads equally. Fascia is the ground substance that all cells can imbed in making it possible for bone to be bone. Muscle to separate from other muscles. Fascia allows for layers to glide like silk ribbons over one another.
From the most superficial layer just beneath our skin to the deepest web penetrating our bones, fascia holds our cells, tissues and systems in place. Sometimes it is thin and wispy, sometimes it is thick and fibrous.
Fascia allows the many layers of muscles in our bodies to slide over each other, allowing for smooth uninhibited flexion and extension. Healthy fascia is pliable and hydrated, allowing muscles, tendons and ligaments to move freely and easily.
When fascia is stressed from injury, trauma or from postural habits and imbalanced repetitive movement, it becomes short, dense, and dehydrated, gluing muscles together and inhibiting movement. Shortened fascia compresses joints and puts stress on tendons and ligaments. This can result in injury and pain.
Dr. Ida Rolf, the founder of Structural Integration, recognized that fascia is plastic in nature: it changes shape, and adapts to the way we use our bodies. When we move and stretch regularly, our fascia gets a work out, stays lubricated, allowing our muscles and the joints they control to function optimally. Likewise, when we are sedentary for long periods of time, our fascia shortens and hardens. We feel stiff, achy and exhausted.
The more aligned our structure is with the field of gravity, the less energy we expend on holding ourselves up. An aligned body moves with greater ease. It becomes more flexible and coordinated. It requires less energy to function. Good posture is effortless and breathing is easier. Athletic performance improves. Our reaction to stress decreases.