“Fascia” has been making the rounds as a hot new topic in many health-related fields. However, most people are unaware of just what exactly fascia is and why it affects our health so dramatically. Here are the ins and outs of fascia as well as some tips and tricks for keeping your fascia in check and staying in optimum health.
What is Fascia?
Fascia is the connective tissue found throughout the body. Comprised primarily of collagen, it is a densely woven system, somewhat resembling a spider web. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of fascia is it is not separated at any point. Rather, it is a continuous structure connecting the entire body together, head to toe.
Because fascia has a web-like structure, it is able to both contract and relax on its own. It is also one of the largest sensory organs in the human body. Fascia is classified by both layer and anatomical location.
What Does Fascia Do?
A healthy fascia will help reduce the friction due to muscular force, as well as provide a protective layer for delicate body parts, such as nerves and blood vessels. If the fascia is not exercised frequently, even through simple movements, overall mobility and vitality may be reduced. This is why the regular movement is so important in keeping fascia fully functional.
Within the fascia framework, there are three types:
- Superficial fascia: Primarily associated with the skin.
- Deep fascia: Primarily associated with the bones, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels.
- Visceral (also called subserous) fascia: Primarily associated with the internal organs.
Basically, the fascia acts as a protective framework and buffer for all nerves, joints, muscles, and organs. Overall, the fascia plays a determining factor in our ability to perform daily activities and withstand the stress placed on our bodies.
Why Is Fascia Important?
When the fascia is not properly cared for, the whole body suffers. Because fascia surrounds virtually all 37 trillion cells in the human body, its health is very important to your overall vitality. When the fascia is healthy, it is relaxed and can move and stretch freely. However, physical and emotional trauma can cause the fascia to become less pliable.
In fact, trauma actually can change the fascia’s structural integrity altogether. This, in turn, will affect various bodily functions and overall health. When the fascia is restricted, excessive pressure may be applied, which can produce a number of symptoms including pain, stiffness, and headaches. In addition, overall stability and flexibility may be compromised as well.
How To Care for Your Fascia
The most important thing you can do to care for your fascia is to properly hydrate your body. Because muscles and their surrounding tissue are made up of more than 75 percent water, they need to stay hydrated constantly to avoid tissue damage. Not only does dehydration lead to quicker muscle fatigue and friction in the joints, muscles, and fascia, but staying properly hydrated can speed up your recovery time from exercise, illness, and injury.
Another crucial aspect of keeping your fascia in optimum health is adequately stretching and warming up before working out or performing any sort of physical activity. However, you must be aware of the proper tools that actually will work your fascia, not just stretch your muscles. Foam rollers are one of the most efficient ways to effectively warm up your fascia.
Always be sure to listen to your body as well for signs of trauma, including pain, inflammation, and burning sensations.
Herbs for Your Fascia
Several herbs can greatly benefit both your overall fascia health as well as helping treat any existing trauma and tissue damage.
1. Willow Bark
Willow bark, along with meadowsweet, contains a natural form of salicylic acid, which serves the same purpose as the active ingredient in popular NSAIDS, such as aspirin. Salicylic acid can help reduce inflammation and tenderness, often side effects of fascia trauma and tissue damage.
Plus, willow bark supplements can provide these benefits without harsh side effects or affecting the healing process.
Both comfrey and plantain long have been used for their ability to boost collagen production, and therefore speeding up the healing process. In addition, both of these herbs also contain a substance called allantoin, which increases fibroblast activity. By increasing fibroblast activity, tissue damage can be repaired more quickly. We highly recommend using Dr. Christopher’s Formula.
3. Witch hazel
Witch hazel has the ability to improve the flexibility and lubricity of muscle fibers. This allows the body to better balance and support itself, making the healing process smoother.
→ To find out 10 additional uses for witch hazel, click here.
Ginger offers numerous medicinal benefits, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and analgesic properties. These benefits allow ginger to be incredibly helpful when repairing tissue damage and reducing the stress placed on the fascia. Ginger’s therapeutic benefits are largely attributed to the main active compound found in the root: gingerol.
Turmeric has been used by many civilizations for thousands of years due to its multitude of medicinal applications. The compound responsible for turmeric’s numerous medicinal benefits is called curcumin. Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent, making it invaluable for restoring the fascia and repairing the damage.
One important thing to note about curcumin is that it is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream. So, to ensure the maximum benefits are realized, health professionals recommend consuming turmeric with black pepper. Black pepper contains a compound called piperine, which enhances curcumin absorption by more than 2,000 percent.
Foods for Your Fascia
While a number of foods can help you care for your fascia, the most important thing you can do nutrition-wise is to limit additives and processed foods. The fewer additives and processed foods in your diet, the less of a toxic burden you are placing on your liver. This allows your liver to use its nutrients to repair and protect your fascia.
That being said, here are three foods that can help boost your fascia health.
Because veggies are rich in numerous vitamins and minerals, as well as bioflavonoids, they are one of the best foods to improve your fascia health. Veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, cabbage, and onions are rich in sulfate, magnesium and B-complex vitamins. All of these nutrients are necessary components in sulfation, which produces glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate. These compounds, in turn, help to facilitate both cartilage repair and collagen production.
Often referred to as one of the most nutrient-dense foods known to man, spirulina offers numerous vitamins and minerals essential for maintaining fascia health and repairing any existing tissue damage. In addition, spirulina contains superoxide dismutase (SOD), a compound extremely helpful in reducing joint and tissue inflammation.
→ For more information on the superfood that is spirulina, click here.
Acai, among many other fruits, is rich in many vitamins and minerals. Plus, it contains numerous bioflavonoids, including anthocyanidins and catechins. Anthocyanidins are a type of phytonutrient that helps to link collagen fibers together as well as strengthen their bonds. This, in turn, strengthens the matrix of the fascia’s connective tissue. Catechins help to prevent existing collagen from breaking down.
As you can see, maintaining and supporting your fascia is vitally important to your overall health. By incorporating healthy habits, such as proper hydration and nutrition, as well as regular physical exercise, into your daily routine, you can better serve your fascia and prevent trauma and tissue damage.