More About Fascia

Fascia is a tough, opaque, membranous protein called collagen, functioning in the body like fabric and cables: fabric in the sense that it wraps and contains every part of the body. All the muscles, bones, and organs are clothed in and supported by fascia.

Fascia also organizes into cables, able to resist strain in a specific direction. This is what tendons (connecting muscles to bones) and ligaments (connecting bones to bones) are fashioned from.

Fascial planes are continuous throughout the body, intimately uniting all its parts into one comprehensive, integrated whole.

Fascial tissue is a network of long strands composed of a protein called collagen. This, in turn, is bathed in “ground substance” which can be in a more fluid or more gelled state, depending on factors such as temperature. When you feel stiff and then, through movement “limber up”, it is not so much your muscles tissue which has changed, but your fascia, and more exactly still, your ground substance, which has become more fluid. The fluctuation of the ground substance constitutes a short-term alteration in the nature of the fascia which we daily affect ourselves, knowingly or otherwise.

However, there is a mechanism for much more significant and enduring change in the form of another fascial constituent– metabolically active cells, called fibroblasts and fibroclasts. Fibroblasts are activated by tension in their associated fascia. Fibroblasts are at work in your body right now, manufacturing strands of collagen, thickening and strengthening their surrounding fascia. For instance, if you begin a weight-lifting program, as your muscles work, the tension in their tendons would rouse the local fibroblasts. Over time, as your muscles grow, so will their tendons. Conversely, in the absence of strain, cells called fibroclasts dissolve fascia, assuming that these areas do not require as much reinforcement. The way we live in our bodies shapes our bodies, inside and out.

Identifying the habits and lifestyles that can cause a backslide is an important component of the educational nature of Rolfing.