Fascia Anatomy and Why it Matters by Melissa Charlton.
You might have heard the word fascia thrown around lately. If you’re friends with me, you hear it a lot. That’s because I’m finally beginning to have respect for it, and its role in moving the human body. For years, fascia was treated like schmaltz, aka chicken-fat. In studying anatomy, it was always the gummy stuff that was scraped away so that we could properly study the muscles, tendons, ligaments and bone that make up human movement.
Fascia is, in its simplest form, connective tissue. It’s the web-like structure that binds muscle fibers; it’s the saran wrap that covers a bundle of muscle fibers to become a known muscle; it’s the jelly-like goo that slides between muscles, and it’s the super-strong tissue that connects your muscles to bone and bone to bone.
But as Exercise Scientists began to study this weird part of the human body, they realized something: Fascia is EVERYTHING. It doesn’t just connect your tissues, it becomes them. In its loosest form, fascia is like jello, surrounding your muscles and helping them slide; but in its densest form, it’s your bones.
Fascia is incredibly strong and resilient. When it’s hydrated. When it’s dry… not so much.
Think of a sponge. When it’s hydrated, you can smash it and it comes right back into its original shape. But when it’s dry, it’s easily dented, torn, even broken.
But drinking water (or coconut water) isn’t enough to hydrate it. Some of your fascia is trapped or stuck. Clogged, if you will. The best way to un-clog it is self-massage, aka myofascial release.
Enter the lacrosse ball. The tennis ball. Softball. Golfball. Hell, I’ve even tried the spiky dryer balls meant for fluffing your towels.
Your body weight + the right tool = supple fascia and muscles. That means less neck pain, healthier shoulder and hip stability, more nourished and hydrated muscles that are easier to stretch, and joints that have balanced range of motion.
Since I started rolling regularly, I found I could reach deeper in my stretches, and that enables me also to lift heavier, run without injury, play more comfortably with my kid, and even have longer and deeper sleep at night.
Fascia. It’s everything.
Interested to see what myofascial release is all about? Join Melissa’s Tuesday morning Roll & Flow class in Fremont, or catch her upcoming Roll & Restore Workshop in collaboration with Brian Charlton.
Words By: Melissa Charlton
Photos By: Naomi Huober