Fascia may be the most understudied and misunderstood system of the body, although it was discovered thousands of years ago and interacts with every organ, structure, and system. In fact, DaVinci was the first known artist to dissect and depict fascia in a drawing. Many have studied fascia over the years, but as of the writing of this article, fascia hasn’t been fully discovered or revered by the medical, fitness, or beauty industries.
Those of us who are pioneering innovative body work methods and are in the field of fascia research and advancement know that it is indeed one of the most important systems of the body. Fascia is a connective tissue and communication and fluid system. It plays a supportive role, holding all your organs, muscles, and joints in place, and it’s like a transportation and communication system for our blood vessels and nerves.
Fascia tissue runs throughout every inch of the body in strips, inside structures, in “blank spaces,” and around the spine. It's like one big piece of fibrous connective tissue running from head to toe, hand to hand, inside to out, and everywhere in between. If we could dissect the fascia out independently, it would look like a big ball of cotton candy in the shape of a human form.
The fascia is connected to whatever it surrounds, and it envelops everything in the body all the way down to the cellular level. It’s is also filled with fluid and surrounded by extracellular fluid (also called interstitial fluid) that bathes and washes over the cells and drains into the lymph system. The interstitial fluid is also known as the interstitium or the extracellular matrix. These fluid-filled spaces within the fascial tissue are often missed by researchers in the medical field because they don’t show up in the standard microscopic slides. Scientists have recently claimed to “discover the interstitium,” but that is just another word for fascia, just like membrane, arachnoid matter, septae, and other words that confuse the public.
Fascia is also protective by nature, and will form protective adhesions to support and stabilize imbalances and misalignments like duct tape. Because it houses the blood vessels and nerves, it’s connected to a lot of neurological and blood disorders. It connects muscles to tendons, bones, and other muscles, which impacts your biomechanics, movements, and range of motion. It also covers the brain and other organs, impacting the foundation of internal medicine. Its existence and the knowledge of how to treat it may very well be the biggest medical and performance advancement of our generation!
Watch these videos to understand fascia and how it affects our musculature, blood, nerves, bones, fat, and every structure and system in the body:
Ashley Black Guru identifies 4 types of fascia:
1. Structural Fascia
These are the long lines of thicker, dense fascia that run all throughout the body beneath the skin at different depths and layers. You’ve probably seen the white, silky membrane of Structural Fascia right beneath the skin of fried chicken. These lines of fascia can run from the tips of the toes to the brow bone, from thumb to thumb, from inside to out and in some cases, spiraling through the body. These fascial lines cross and intersect in the body like highways and interchanges. The Structural Fascia fibers also have the ability to contract, relax, and stretch, just like muscles.
When the Structural Fascia becomes tight or restricted, it can create tension and form adhesions that have the ability to pull the surrounding skeletal structures out of alignment, and compress the joints, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. It can also trap fatty tissue into stubborn pockets beneath the skin, forming pockets of fat tissue that may be unresponsive to diet and exercise.
2. Interstructural Fascia
This is the cobweb-like fascia is found within the structures of the body. You may have seen this as the “gristle” in a piece of steak. Within the muscles, the Interstructural Fascia contracts, relaxes, and stretches with the muscle fibers. It also penetrates and surrounds the brain, organs, cartilage, blood vessels, nerves, and literally every system of the body.
If the surrounding Structural Fascia is tight and causing compression, the highly adhesive Interstructural Fascial fibers can stick to each other as well as the surrounding structures. These adhesions can interrupt the function of the muscles, organs, systems, and structures.
3. Visceral Fascia
This slimy, Jell-O®-like tissue is primarily found deep in the abdominal cavity. Visceral fascia is the only fascia that can change properties, as documented in “Strolling Beneath the Skin.” The visceral fascia interacts with all of the surrounding structures and types of fascia inside the “blank spaces of the body.” Visceral Fascia is highly protective in nature and when it gets tights, it will restrict all of the functions of the adjoining structures and systems.
4. Spinal Fascia
Structural Fascia, Interstructural Fascia, and Visceral Fascia are also found inside and around the spine. The Spinal Fascia (also called "arachnoid mater") is special because it is fibrously dense and encases the spinal cord like a thick straw. The other types of fascia connect to this straw-like casing and burst out like sunbeams through the abdominal cavity. Understanding how to impact this deep fascia can dramatically aid in the treatment of back and nerve pain related to the narrowing of this column.
The FasciaBlaster® (only $89) is a self-treatment fascia tool designed to loosen and restore fascial adhesions and distortions. Tight fascia can torque and tighten joints and is often a precursor to more serious issues such as strains, ligament problems, back and nerve pain, swelling, limited range of motion, and more.
Click here for playlists that will show you the correct techniques to use the FasciaBlaster® on each area of your body!
To learn more about fascia and how it affects your health, posture, appearance, and pain, read my #1 National Bestselling book: "The Cellulite Myth; it's not fat, it's FASCIA."