Understanding Fascia

By Bonnie Crotzer, Professional Dancer, Yoga Instructor, former Elite Trainer at the Genius of Flexibility, organic food, fascia and health enthusiast.

 

SO WHAT IS FASCIA?

Fascia—until very recently, you might not have even ever heard the word. Though fascia runs throughout every inch of your entire body, our understanding of it is limited. But, it’s becoming increasingly clear that fascia plays an important role in our health and wellbeing. 

What IS fascia, though? Put as simply as possible, fascia is a network of connective tissue that encases, supports and protects all of the body’s other systems— your muscles, organs, blood vessels, bones, and nerves. It also maintains our structural integrity by keeping everything in the body in its place—making sure your organs are neatly packed and stacked.

Its vast, all-encompassing nature is perhaps part of why it’s so misunderstood—but it’s worth diving into, as it can strongly impact how we feel, whether (or not) we’re in pain, and even how we look.

 

AMAZING... BUT ALMOST UNKNOWN...

In my first 20 years of dancing, pilates, yoga, interest in bodywork and Chinese medicine, I could not have told you one thing about fascia. Fascia has been looked over by classical anatomy and is the least understood system in the body. Fascia was simply discarded to reveal the muscles and bones that were thought to be the keys to bio-mechanical understanding.

Fascia’s anatomical definition isn’t even listed until the fourth entry on Dictionary.com.  What all the definitions have in common, though, is they all involve things being bonded together. This makes sense, as it is what fascia does for the body, too. Fascia is the connector and the shape-maker of the body.

 

WHERE IS IT -- AND WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?

Fascia is literally everywhere. Subtract everything in the body except fascia, you are left with a perfect ghost-like, 3D rendition of yourself.

Fascia takes many forms. One being an unending SHEET that lies right underneath the skin and stretches throughout your entire body—head to toes. Fascia also takes the form of an elastic and tensioned web, making it the operating system for smooth and fluid movements.

Author of Fascia, Anatomy and Movement, Joanne Avison describes it as such: “it is continuous and ubiquitous” I love this description. Fascia surrounds and penetrates our entire bodies.

 

HOW FASCIA IMPACTS OUR BODIES

When fascia is bound, knotted, or otherwise out of order, it can lead to all sorts of physical ailments and pain, (including poor blood flow, what we typically refer to as muscle soreness, and even conditions like plantar fasciitis).

This is why some experts believe that unlocking a better understanding of fascia is one of the key ways we will improve upon our own capability to care for and heal ourselves.

But, fascia doesn’t only affect how we feel—it can also affect how we look!

Fascia consists primarily of collagen mixed with some elastin and some of the body’s naturally-occurring hyaluronic acid. As we age, our body’s ability to replenish collagen, diminishes. We lose the plumpness of our tissues because the fascia begins to dry out and get stiff. When it gets knotted up or disorganized, it contributes to unsmooth skin. Facial tension and drooping are similarly related to fascia.

 

IT’S ELECTRIC!

Fascia plays another incredibly important role in our bodies:  It defines our body’s energy channels. As a result, fascial health is incredibly important to the health of our energy network.   

The knotting and disorganization of fascia that occurs with wear and tear on our bodies can trap energy, making us feel sluggish, stiff or even sick.  The right set of sophisticated movements can help restore our fascia and repair our energy network.

By activating and moving along the energy channels, we can unbind our fascia and allow Qi to flow through our bodies freely.  Even better, fascia has a secret: Because it is made of collagen which is crystalline, engaging or compressing Fascia actually generates energy when we move! (scientists call this ‘piezo-electricity”).

 

HOW GHOST FLOWER CAN HELP

Ghost Flower activewear is designed to help you unlock bound fascia and get your Qi flowing.  Move along strategically placed seams, which follow your body’s energy channels. Press on key acupressure points (marked by the Ghost Flower logo) to release blocked energy.  Doing so can improve the health of your fascia, and improve your overall flexibility, health and vitality.

Chinese symbol for Channels/Meridians also means silk

"This is the character sī used in jīng luò which appears to be portraying fascia. The Chinese do not have a character per se for fascia but all Chinese characters and words have to be put in context to get meaning. Put in the context this is used in, it appears to be fascia.”

Dr. Dan Keown

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