Reading time: 2 min.
Fascia used to be dismissed as a simple "support corset" for the internal organs. We now know better: fasciae not only support the body, they also make a significant contribution to health and well-being.
What are the functions of fascia in the body?
The fascia fulfill the following functions:
- independent organ that supports and shapes the body
- contains many nerve connections, pain and movement sensors
- central organ of body perception (influence on the immune system and psyche)
- independent contraction
- Power transmission from muscle to muscle
- Muscle coordination and smooth function
In recent years, the fascia has increasingly come to the fore in scientific and therapeutic areas. Whereas previously only firm, flat structures were referred to as fascia, since the first international Fascia Research Congress at Harvard Medical School in Boston (Massachusetts) in autumn 2007, experts have been saying that all collagenous fibrous connective tissue, especially organ and joint capsules, Muscle septa, ligaments, tendons, as well as the fasciae by name - flat, solid layers of connective tissue such as the fascia lata on the thigh - are included in this group. Accordingly, the term fascia (Latin: to connect, composite) is used today to describe all the soft tissue components of the connective tissue that run through our entire body like an enveloping, connecting and supporting network. A distinction is made between three groups:
Superficial fascia: Consisting of loose connective and fatty tissue, it is found in large parts of the body in the subcutaneous tissue. In addition, they surround organs, glands and neurovascular pathways. Their task is to buffer and dampen the lymph, blood and nerve tracts.
Deep fascia: These are the dense, fibrous connective tissue structures with extremely high viscoelastic tensile strength that enclose muscles, bones and cartilage, nerve tracts and blood vessels and partially penetrate them, sometimes as extensive fascia (e.g. the plantar fascia) or tendon plates (aponeuroses), as Ligaments, joint capsules, tendons or muscle septa.
Visceral fascia: They surround the internal organs and are therefore responsible for the suspension and embedding of the intestines.
Fascial connective tissue is found in all sections of the human body. It creates a seamless connection between the various parts of the body and organs and is made up of several superimposed and independent layers with a vertical, horizontal, oblique and spiral orientation. In addition, considering the number of mechanoreceptors in fascial tissue, it can be said that fascia is our largest, most important and richest sensory organ for proprioception.
How can fascia cause pain?
Studies by the University of Ulm found that fascia is equipped with contractile, smooth muscle-like cells. As a result, they can contract, stiffen, and relax independently of the voluntarily controlled skeletal muscles. The connective tissue structures thus play a crucial role in power transmission during dynamic, springy movements such as walking or running. Such contractions of fascial structures can even occur in response to stress.
Furthermore, it was discovered in the latest studies that fasciae are highly innervated and can therefore cause pain. It is even assumed that a large part of the back pain does not have anything to do with the intervertebral discs, as previously assumed, but rather is caused by damage to the back fascia. Likewise, supposed muscle tension is often actually hardening of the muscle connective tissue.