What the Hell is Fascia, Anyway?

If you’ve been checking out my social media, you’ve probably seen my posts about fascia work. I like to crack jokes about it, but in reality, it’s totally necessary to get that ‘ish’ worked on. 

For those of you who are new to me and what I do, I’m a massage therapist and acupuncturist that focuses on whole body wellness (and the occasional torture session). Many of my clients see me for their weekly sessions that combine a myofascial massage and acupuncture treatment. 

But even if you know this, you might be asking yourself: what the eff is fascia?

Lemme tell you.

Fascia is the sticky, web-like substance that attaches underneath the skin and is literally everywhere in your body. [1]

Have you ever felt your shoulders and thought, “Man, I’m full of knots!” 

Yeah, that knot is actually balled up fascia tissue. It’s called that a fascial adhesion in my world. 

Essentially, there are four main types of fascia [2]:

  • Structural 
  • Interstructural 
  • Visceral 
  • Spinal 

Buuuuut, unless you’re in the biz like me, you probably have no idea what the difference between these types really is. 

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Structural fascia lies just beneath the skin, and can be described as long strips of fascia. It’s like an Ace® Bandage, or (sorry to the vegans out there) that film on a skinless chicken breast.
  • Interstructural fascia runs through the structures of the body, including the muscles. It’s like cotton candy or a cobweb, and is in every nook and cranny of the body (even the brain and joints). FASCINATING!
  • Visceral fascia is found in the abdominal area, which surrounds and penetrates the fat and organs of our bellies. It’s a goopy or jelly-like substance, and for those who have ever gutted a turkey on Thanksgiving (sorry again to the vegans), that goopy slime inside is visceral fascia.
  • Spinal fascia is the most difficult to break down, as Eastern and Western experts are at a stand-off to what it is. To keep things simple, this type of fascia is the “straw” and is broken into three layers: dura mater, arachnoid mater, and pia mater.

Whew, OK. We got through the breakdown.

So now that you have a better idea of what fascia is and what the different types are, how does one actually “work” on it? 

Massage therapists will break down the “knots” in your body, but their fingers, hands, arms, and elbows (and sometimes feet) can only do so much. What really helps to target the different fascia are these nifty little tools that look like torture devices.

Ashley Black created the ever-popular Fascia Blaster line of tools, and are what I use to help my clients. 

Now, I’m not gonna lie to you. It can be painful to use, but the benefits DEFINITELY outweigh the discomfort you’ll feel. 

Yeah, I’ve had clients yell and scream at me, curse me to the deepest bowels of hell, but when it’s all said and done, they keep coming back for more, as it helps them SO MUCH! They love me, they really love me.

Just think about this for a second. Every time you injure yourself, your body heals with scar tissue. But when you heal, that scar tissue is creating tension in your body. It can pull muscles, organs, and more out of whack. 

When you break up that scar tissue (which is really fascia), you’re healing your body on another level. The trauma of the original injury is healed, so that tissue staying there isn’t necessary (unless it was intentionally created like in specific surgeries that need the tissue there as a support system).

Breaking up fascia isn’t a one-and-done process, but more of a maintenance process. It takes time, and the more you do it, the better you feel. 

Until next time!

Sources:

[1] Ashley Black & Joanna Hunt. “The Cellulite Myth: It's Not Fat, It's Fascia.”

[2] www.ashleyblackguru.com

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