Summary: Learn what fascia is, where it’s found in the body, and what it does. And experience a motion which will engage your fascia to support you to FIND YOUR CENTER.
- What is Fascia?
- Where is it? It’s Everywhere!
- Fascia is a sensory organ and communication network
- Motion: FIND YOUR CENTER
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Hello, my friends. Welcome to Move Into Resilience. I’m Pamela Stokes. Thanks for joining me. In this four-part series about fascia, we’re going to be learning about what it’s made of, how it works, what it does, how it helps us, and do some movements that will engage it. In this first episode, I wanted to teach you about what fascia is, what it’s made of, and what it does. So let’s get into it.
[00:46] What is Fascia?
So what is fascia? Fascia is the connective tissue in our body, and it is everywhere. And it’s contiguous, which means that it’s completely attached to itself and integrated. So if we have a movement in the fascia down in our toes, that affects every other part of the fascia in the entire network—all the way up to your head and out to your fingertips. It’s pretty amazing stuff. It’s made of mainly a what’s called ground substance, which is a lot of water. And then there’s also these kinds of proteins called collagen. And there are many kinds of collagen. And these collagen fibers, these proteins, make up sort of a weave. And this can vary because of these different kinds of collagens. It can vary from a very wispy kind of spider webby sort of weave or a very thick weave, very closely knit weave, sort of like a sweater. And we can have many layers of this on top of each other so we can get a very thick band. And there are several places in our body where that exists, like our tendons and ligaments, as well as some of the layers of fascia, for example, that are over our low back. There are, for example, three layers of fascia around the brain alone. The one that’s closest is very tightly holding the brain in place, holding its shape keeping its shape. Then there’s some fluid and then there’s another layer, and some fluid, and another layer. So these are the membranes of the brain. That’s fascia there. And they each have their own characteristic of how loose or how tight the weave is based on how many and what type of collagen proteins there are. We can also, by having these collagen fibers closely packed, we can get a dense type of fascia. And some people, some scientists/researchers, consider bone to be a type of fascia as well. And others consider even blood to be fascia. So it’s basically everywhere in our body.
[03:59] Where is the Fascia? It’s EVERYWHERE!
And some of the places where it may be noticeable are under your skin. So if you took your fingers on your arm and just wiggle gently, like this on your arm. Just wiggle your fingers gently across the skin, moving the skin, you’ll feel it sliding. And that’s because of the fascial layers that are underneath the skin. Fascia also, in the muscles, wraps around each tiny bundle of muscle fibers. And then that bundle is also wrapped with some fascia, and then the muscle itself is wrapped with fascia, so there’s a lot of fascia through the muscles. Every organ is surrounded by it. And within our belly, in our guts, within there, there’s a lot of fascia that’s keeping the tubes in place—kind of keeping them organized there. There’s a lot of feet length of tubes in the gut, and we’ve got to keep it all tightly packed so it fits, and the fascia does that. Fascia can also divide things. So we have a nice band of fascia in our chest, for example, that divides it into two halves. We have fascia that is around the guts—the large and small intestine—that divides that part from another part of the body. There’s fascia around the lungs, and I think you get the picture. It’s, it’s everywhere! And because it’s continuous, contiguous, when we move one part of it, another part will also move. And also, if we don’t move enough, or if we are in a habitual posture, for example, this can lead to a density of the fascia forming and a pushing out of the water that’s there.
[06:17] Fascia is a Liquid Crystal
The fascia is, for the most part, mostly water, but it has this property, because of these fibrils, these collagen fibrils, it has the property of what some people call a liquid crystal. And what that means is when there’s pressure, the water will sort of squeeze out of the way and we get a solid. And then when the water moves back in, we now have more of a liquid and it’s more flowing.
[06:52] Fascia is a Sensory Organ and Communication Network
The other aspect of it that is very helpful for us is that it has, it’s filled with, 250 million nerve endings. And these nerve endings are there to give us information, to give our brain information, about the body. It has the ability to detect where you are in space—the position of your limbs in space; to detect where your weight is. So you can shift your weight to one leg or the other leg and notice there’s a difference in how you sense that. It can determine your posture. So to know if you are upright or bent over, even with your eyes closed, you know where you are. And it’s the function of the fascia to do that. This is called proprioception: our ability to identify where we are in space, and where our body parts are, what our posture’s like, and feeling our weight. Another thing that these nerve endings allow us to do is something called interoception. This allows us to perceive what’s happening inside of our body. For example, we might feel a sense of tightness or fluidity in our movement. We might feel pain. And there are 10 times more pain receptors in fascia as compared to muscle tissue. So when we feel pain, and I did an episode about this before: No Pain No Gain? [episode 018] You can check that out. Where we, when we perceive pain, there’s a reason for it, as I said in that episode. And it’s a message to tell us whatever you’re doing, change that, do something different. and the fascia is there to guide us to know that there is a problem, there’s something wrong. And so we feel this sense of pain or tightness, constriction, that indicates there’s something that we need to do and to take care of that.
[09:39] Motion: FIND YOUR CENTER
So now I’d like to have you join in with an activity that we’re going to do called FIND YOUR CENTER. And the purpose of this activity, by the name you could probably guess, is to help you to find where it is that you can most easily balance on your feet, standing. So please come to standing and join in as we do FIND YOUR CENTER. FIND YOUR CENTER. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and imagine that you’re like a tree in the breeze, and the wind is blowing from behind as you shift your weight into your toes, keeping your heels down. And then gently move through center and allow the wind to blow you into your heels, so your toes stay down, as far as is comfortable. Then come through center and go half as far into your toes this time. Coming through center again. And half as far into your heels. And then move through center, and come just a little into your toes. Move through center, and just a little bit into your heels. And come back to center. Now the wind will shift you right and left. So allow the wind to blow you over into your right foot, keeping your left foot heavy. Coming through center. The wind blows you to your left foot, keeping your right foot heavy. And then through center again. Coming into the weight of the right foot, just half as far. And then shifting through center and into your left foot, half as far as before. Coming through center once again. And just a little bit into your right foot. Back through center. And then a little into your left foot. And coming back to center. And notice where it’s easy to be, and notice how you feel.
[11:54] Why Should I Find My Center?
So that was FIND YOUR CENTER. I hope you enjoyed that. This is a great activity to do to help you find an easy way to stand, so that there’s not a lot of pressure in one part of your foot versus another part, and also so that there’s no tension that is building up in your muscles or even in your fascia. So this is a great activity to do anytime that you might be feeling kind of not fully present in your moment. If you have the tendency to be anxious or even depressed, on the other end of the spectrum, using this activity can help you to feel more in line with yourself, and more easily standing and comfortable. And by doing this, we’re sending a message through this fascial network that everything is OK, and we can turn off any sense of the trauma response that might be happening.
[13:14] Less Stress/More Comfort
So thank you so much for joining in and doing this activity with me today. We’ll be learning more about fascia in the next few episodes. You can find out more about my work at MoveIntoResilience.com. And I have a program there which allows you to do a lot of these motions that you learn here on the show. I call it LESS STRESS/MORE COMFORT, and it includes private sessions with me where we can figure out the things that might be holding you back in your life from living your fullest expression of greatness. So I hope you check that out. Thank you very much for joining me and send yourself some appreciation for joining in. This has been Move Into Resilience. I’m Pamela Stokes. Take it easy.