What is Fascia?
By Natalie Martos
You may have never heard of the term fascia, yet everyone has it. In fact we have it over our entire body. The fascia is what helps shape our muscles and other structures within our bodies. There are 4 types of fascia: structural, inter-structural, visceral, and spinal. So the question becomes, what is fascia and why is it important to you? Fascia is fibrous connective tissue that creates a sheath enclosing muscles and organ within the body.
The first type of fascia is the structural fascia, often this is what is referred to as the sheath, and is the thickest of fascia. These fibers have the ability to complete the same functions as muscles, the shortening and lengthening. This is important to note because just the same it can function as muscle it can also hinder your muscles and cause limitations within your joints. This fascial sheath can be seen in a piece of steak or chicken, it is the thick white layer that is visible underneath the skin. The retinacula cutis fibers is fancy for the fibers that connect the superficial and deep.
The inter-structural fascia is found within the meat or the belly of a muscle. If you were to pull apart a piece of steak you would be able to identify this fascial layer. This layer is highly adhesive and can stick to other structures, thus causing functional limitations if adhesions occur.
The visceral layer is the layer that wraps the organs within our body. This has 2 layers within itself, a visceral and parietal layer. To put this in a language other than fancy medical terminology; the visceral layers is the skin of the organ, and the outermost layer is the parietal. Difference between visceral layer and the other is that it cannot become lax in its shape otherwise organs can lose shape and to the other side of the spectrum if it is too restricted it can also effect the function of the organ.
The spinal fascia surrounds, you guessed it, the spine. It surrounds the spinal cord and is extremely dense. This is also considered one of the deep layers. The muscles are compartmentalized at this level of fascia. Deep fascia is avascular, which means no blood supply, but still has sensory receptors. So that is how can still feel pain/soreness/tightness.
Why is this important to you? Recent studies have shown that the cause of cellulite may be due to tension of retinacula cutis fibers. These fibers allow for the sliding of superficial and deep fascial layers. If this gets inflamed the fibers can become thickened and restrict motion causing adhesions within fibers. So what does all this mean to you, if the fascia becomes restricted in any way, whether it is from dehydration, adhesions, or inflammation, then ripples in the skin can occur and fat deposits will get stuck in the web fibers of the fascial lining.
As it was mentioned before, research is starting to show this may be the cause of cellulite. More research is still needed to be done to determine what the true cause of cellulite could be. Many factors are needed to be taken into consideration, i.e. genetics, body composition, exercise regimen, nutritional status, etc. Now that you have all this new information I am sure you would now like to know, how do I get rid of it? This is where research comes into play, various treatments are out in the world that can supposedly reduce cellulite or rid cellulite, but just like anything else in the body if you aren’t treating the cause and only treating the problem, guess what? You’ll have to continue buying that expensive cream to help reduce the appearance of cellulite if you never determine the cause. Keep an eye out on how to treat fascial restrictions and what the differences are in foam rolling and fascial massages.