The Most Unknown Part of Our Body is Essential for our Health, Scientists Find
We are always reminded of the benefits of exercise for muscles and bone health, or decreases fat. But, there is a rising interest in an part of our anatomy that is often neglected our fascia.
Fascia is a thin layer of connective tissue composed of collagen. It is an elastic structure that gives durability and protection to a variety of parts within the human body. It is the one that protects every organ bone, blood vessel, muscle and nerve fiber in position. Researchers are becoming more aware of the importance of it in bone and muscle health.
It’s hard to spot fascia inside the body however, it is possible to get a glimpse of how it appears when you examine the inside of a steak. It’s those thin, white lines of skin on the surface, or between layers of meat.
Fascia has both general and particular roles in the body and is organized in various ways. The closest one to it is superficial fascia that is located beneath the skin, between the layers of fat. Then there is the deeper fascia, which covers bones, muscles as well as blood vessels.
The relationship between fascia bone health, and muscle function is confirmed by the latest research that shows the crucial role that fascia plays in aiding the muscles’ perform their work by supporting the contraction of muscles cells to produce strength and stiffness in muscles.
Each muscle is covered with fascia. These layers are essential because they permit muscles close to, or even over one another to move in a fluid manner without interfering with each other’s function.
Fascia helps in the transfer of force throughout the muscle-skeletal system. One example is the ankle, where the achilles tendon transmits force to the plantar fascia. The forces are moving upwards down the achilles before being transferred horizontally to the bottom of the foot, i.e. the plantar fascia when we move.
Similar force shifts are evident from the muscles of the chest, which run down to muscles of the forearm. Similar fascia connective chain structures in different areas of the body.
If fascia is damaged
If fascia’s function isn’t as it should when it’s injured, as in or surgery, the layers are less able to allow movement over one another or transfer force. Injuries to fascia take an extended time to heal due to the fact that it has the same cells as the tendons (fibroblasts) and also has limited blood supply.
In recent times, facial fascias, specifically those layers that are close to the skin’s surface have been found to have the second highest number of nerves, second only to the skin.
The linings of the muscles’ fascia are also linked to injuries from surgery, injury to the musculoskeletal system caused by exercises, sports and aging. As high as 30% of patients suffering from muscle pain might be suffering from fascial issues or could be the reason.
A form of massage known as fascial manipulation, invented through Italian professional physiotherapist Luigi Stecco in the 1980s It has been proven to ease pain caused by patellar tendinopathy (pain in the tendon that runs below the kneecap) as well as in the short – and long-term.
Fascial manipulation also has shown positive results when the treatment of chronic shoulder pain.
One of the most popular methods to treat muscular and skeletal injury is Kinesio tape that is commonly employed for professional athletes. It’s also used to aid in the work of the fascia. It is utilized to help with low back and neck pain that is chronic, where fascial involvement is an issue.
Fascia as a sign of disease
Apart from being damaged, fascia also serve as a path for infections that can spread, particularly within muscles.
The spaces between the fascial layers are typically closed (think of the cling film that is folded over) however, if an infection develops, bacteria may spread between the layers. This is particularly problematic in the neck area, as there are multiple layers of fascia to allow infections to pass through.
In extreme cases surgical intervention is usually required to eliminate the dead tissue and preserve the healthy tissue.
One of the main instances of the fascia’s functioning in good health and the issues it can pose is the most common complaint, plantar fasciitis, a condition that is a cause of pain in the arch and heel of the foot.
The condition is extremely common and is a problem that affects 5 to 7 percent of the population and can reach 22% for athletes. It is recognized as an overuse injury which causes the enlargement of fascial bands around the soles of your feet, which provide an arch support.
Fascia is also implicated in serious health issues like necrotising fasciitis. It is a rare, but severe bacterial disease which can spread throughout the body rapidly and result in death.
The condition is typically result of bacteria particularly Streptococcus group A and Staphylococcus aureus. The first infection is caused by scratch or a cut then the bacteria spread through the fascia to different regions away from the initial location of access, and then multiply in the perfect environment provided through the warm recesses of your body.
We can better see it today.
One reason why fascia has been neglected in both the field of health and disease is that it was hard to visualize with the current technology of imaging. In recent years, MRI and ultrasound imaging have been proven to be helpful in identifying fascia, especially in musculoskeletal disorders like plantar faciitis and pathological changes to the shoulder fascia and neck.
With the increasing interest in fascia as well as the growing recognition of its role in the health of our musculoskeletal system, it’s sensible to recommend that we look at it the same way as we do for the rest of our muscle and skeletal system – by working with it.
Simple methods such as foam rollers and stretching can be helpful in increasing mobility, but there’s still a lot to be learned about the fascia, and the importance it plays in everyday health.