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What is Fascia?

What is Fascia? By Jason Bye, LMT Maybe you have heard the word from your massage therapist. Or perhaps it has come up in your favorite healthcare news source? For me, the term first came up in massage school in 2004. So when I saw the 6th International Fascia Research Congress was going to be in Montreal and they were going to have Body World, an exhibit of the first ever full body plastination of fascia there, I thought, I should go! Plastination is a process used to preserve the body, allowing you to see all muscles. As someone who has worked with fascia for nearly two decades, to see FR:EIA (the name given to the full body plastination) up close with all the fascia on display was mind-blowing. Part of what makes fascia so complex is that it is composed of different types and layers throughout the body. Superficial fascia, for example, is found just below the skin and in almost all body regions. This layer is loosely connected tissue. Below the superficial fascia is the deep fascia, the white tissue surrounding the muscles and the tendons. Deep fascia is more densely connected. Then we have visceral fascia, located within our body cavities, holding all the organs in place. Some sources also discuss parietal fascia, which describes the fascia that lines a body cavity. There is also meningeal fascia, which is explicitly associated with the nervous system and the brain. Parietal fascia, found in the pelvis, is yet another type still being explored. Although many doctors, researchers, and other experts spoke about fascia at the International Fascia Research Congress, it is still something we are learning about. While at the conference, Jan Wilke from the University of Klagenfurt gave a presentation titled "Of muscles, cats, and hangovers: a tale of fascia and its role in recovery." As part of his research, Jan spoke about the recovery from delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Jan discussed how most available research focuses on the muscle as the big player in DOMS and how instead, their research opted to look at the deep layer of fascia as the location of DOMS. This thought, then, begs the question, as massage therapists, when we massage a person after strenuous exercise, the tissue we might want to focus on is the deep fascia and not so much the muscle. Of course, more research needs to be done, but I know one thing that doesn't change for now is that massage can help you to feel better after working out for the first time in a while or the 100th time. So the next time you come in for a massage and have DOMS, you may consider trying different techniques that target your deep fascia. Halloween is coming up, and I wanted to give you one less thing to be afraid of this year. In massage school, you learn that muscles move bones. So rest assured, a skeleton could not ever really chase after you. Happy Halloween! Here is a link to look further into fascia and to see it in more detail.

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