Fascia—What You Should Know
By Cinthia P. Cable, L.M.T.
What is fascia?
Fascia is a body-wide, protective, supportive, flexible, soft tissue network. It has been found to be the most abundant tissue in the body. It looks much like a three-dimensional spider web that surrounds and separates muscles, nerves, arteries, veins, and organs. It attaches one body element to another and stabilizes and supports structural components with its connective ability.
Fascia exists just below the surface of the skin but also penetrates deep within the body, surrounding the organs and filling the space between the organs and other components. Scientists have identified three types of fascia. The first is superficial fascia, which lies just below the skin and gives the body its shape. The second is visceral fascia, which surrounds and suspends the organs. The third is deep fascia, which surrounds muscles, bones, nerves, and blood vessels.
The web-like fascia fibrils are composed mostly of collagen, which makes them strong, and elastin, which makes them flexible. But there is another component within the fascia—slippery proteins—which makes the collagen fibers moist and slippery. This moisture gives the fibrils a dewy sheen and facilitates movements between the various bodily components.
Fascia is one continuous network that extends from the top of your head to the soles of your feet. The word for this quality is continuity. Fascia has the quality of plasticity as well, which means it has the ability to soften, lengthen, and separate—to become more pliable. And finally, fascia has the quality of sensitivity due to the many nerve endings and mechanoreceptors contained within it. This sensitivity gives us the ability to be physically aware enough to control and coordinate our movements. Perceived sensations within the body are felt via the fascia, starting just under the skin.