Anatomy and the science of the body have traditionally been taught as a bunch of parts smushed together to make a human.
The books make it seem like everything is perfectly neat, tidy and in its “correct” place and has little to no relationship to what’s happening in other parts.
What they didn’t teach you in school (or the school of life, for that matter) is that EVERYTHING is connected inside your body.
And the major lesson that most of us have missed is that while muscles are important, fascia is where it’s at.Fascia is connective tissue. In Latin, it means “band or bundle”. It’s a gooey, wet, and web-like tissue layer that binds, coats, protects and holds your body together.
Without it, your skin would be in a pile around your ankles, your stomach wouldn’t stay in place, and your nerves would have no framework to follow beneath your skin.
I didn’t learn about fascia until after graduating and getting eyeballs deep into the movement world. My university-level anatomy books basically ignored this very important structure so I learned it on the fly (and have since immersed myself in all things fascia because it truly is that important).
Here’s the biggest lesson I want you to remember: Your muscles do not exist without fascia.
In fact, there are layers of fascia that cannot be removed from the muscle without damaging it.
Fascia is a big part of what allows you to stretch when you try to touch your toes and why you feel stiff in the morning.
It’s a major player in every movement you make and every injury you’ve ever had – and up until about five years ago, nobody even paid it any attention.
So why should you care about fascia?
When we have trigger points, knots, adhesions, or -itises (like plantar fasciitis, for one), they exist within the fascia. Injury to the fascia can happen because of trauma (like a sprained ankle or pulled muscle), surgery, inflammation or an overuse/repetitive stress issue.
And remember how everything is connected? Systemic inflammation (meaning throughout the entire body) caused by diet or other stress-related factors can aggravate already grouchy fascias.
Because fascia is really the inner lining of your birthday suit when it scars or begins to toughen up in an effort to protect itself, that effect is felt throughout the entire body.
For example, let’s say you stub your big toe.
Not only is it a major bummer, but then you start walking differently to avoid putting pressure on the injured toe. To compensate (and avoid pain), you begin to walk differently, which changes the way you use the foot, ankle, knee, hip, and low back of both legs.
Changes to the fascia are felt almost immediately and structural changes at the cellular level begin to happen within a few weeks.
Which means that even if the big toe no longer hurts, the compensation pattern you trained to work around it may still be fully in effect.
So what should you do?
Move – every day and in every way, exploring your body with curiosity. Movement is what helps your fascia to remain hydrated and elastic – so use tools that help encourage movement throughout the entire body.
Get inspiration on ways to move your body from friends, classes or a working with a coach 😉.
Find out where you are strong, where you are weak, and what you’re avoiding by continuing to show up every day and play.
And if you’re not sure where to start – let’s chat. You’re not that old and you don’t have to feel like you are – check out one of the options below for your next steps.
PS Ready to wake up every morning pain-free? Here are 3 ways I can help you now:
- Join the AE Wellness Body Nerds and connect with other busy women on a quest to make self-care easy and to move more every day.
- Join me for my free online class, Movement Managed: How to Move Better and Feel Better, Every Day and learn how to stop feeling exhausted, stressed out and completely disconnected from your body.
- Tired of feeling exhausted, stressed out and completely disconnected from your body? – let’s chat. Click here to tell me a little bit about what’s going on and I’ll get you the details!