Introduction to Fascia
And Its Role in Causing Chronic Pain
To really get a sense of the fascia I invite you to watch a truly illuminating short video called “Strolling Under the Skin” from Dr. Jean Claude Guimberteau
Fascia, also known as connective tissue, is a densely woven covering which interpenetrates every muscle, bone, nerve, artery and vein as well as all of our vital internal organs including the heart, lungs, brain and spinal cord. The most interesting aspect of the fascial system is that it is not just a system of separate coverings. It is actually a three dimensional continuous matrix that exists from the top of your head down to your feet, and through your body to the cellular level. In this way you can begin to see that each part of the entire body is connected to every other part by the fascia, like the yarn in a sweater.
Fascia also plays an important role in the support of our bodies, since it surrounds and attaches to all structures. These structures would not be able to provide the stability without the constant pull of the fascial system. In fact, our bones can be thought of as tent poles, which cannot support the structure without the constant support of the guide wires (or fascia) to keep an adequate amount of tension to allow the tent (or body) to remain upright with proper equilibrium.
In the normal healthy state, the fascia is relaxed and wavy in configuration. It has the ability to stretch and move without restriction. When we experience physical or emotional trauma, scarring from falls or surgeries, or stopped inflammatory processes, however, the fascia loses its pliability. It becomes tight, restricted and a source of tension to the rest of the body. Trauma, such as a fall, whiplash, surgery or just habitual poor posture over time and repetitive stress injuries has cumulative effects. The changes they cause in the fascial system influence comfort and the functioning of our body. When restricted, the fascia can exert in excess of 2,000 lbs of pressure per square inch producing intense pain and/or limited range of motion.