The Definition of Fascia and Its 3 Main Categories You Must Know
Published on: September 17, 2021

Published By: Southwest Physical Therapy

Definition of Fascia

Fascia  is just now reaching its age of enlightenment because it has long been misunderstood. It is finally gaining the respect it deserves by cracking the dermis into public consciousness. The great results of myofascial release therapy have been what have accomplished this.

The fact that fascia has no particular form has been part of the reason why fascia has been so misunderstood. It shape-shifts around your entire body. Sometimes it is fibrous and firm, other times it is goopy. At times it is hidden, invested like membranous cloaks around the cells of your muscles, while at other times, just as with belly fat it presents itself obviously.

Spotlighting a subject that constantly shapeshifts is very hard — not to mention one that creeps when it moves, for it can’t exactly strut into the limelight on its own. The thing is, without it we wouldn’t be able to strut. 

Biotensegrity is a concept that must be understood in conjunction with fascia, so let’s break it down: 

Biotensegrity

A mechanistic system of levers and pulleys is not what the human body is. That is why a biotensegrity structure is what our body is referred to as being. Tensegrity is when there’s a win-win relationship between pull and push. The compression bearing “struts” are formed by your bones, the tension is maintained by the facias, and your bones are left floating in the fascia. That tension gets distributed around the whole system of your body is what this means in practical application. Does this apply to you? How? Well, you may not need attention in the area where you feel your pain, but rather elsewhere in your body.

The Definition of Fascia 

It was just within the last decade that fascia received an official definition of being both a system and a tissue. 

Since fascia has historically been ignored, its role in postural and mobility integrity has only recently found some well-deserved respect. A semi-annual Fascia Research Congress has even been founded to discuss it. 

The definition that the Fascia Research Congress has of fascia is rather technical:   

For those of us who aren’t scientists, a more succinct description of fascia from The Roll Model Method is, “The body’s living aqueous knitting fabric is its fascia. The soft-tissue scaffolding of the body is this seam system that interconnects you to yourself.”  

Although these seams are continuous, the purpose, textures, and tensions of fascia is not all the same. 

The different categories of fascia are shown in this quick breakdown of them:    

The 3 Main Categories of Fascia You Must Know

There are three (3) main categories of fascia 

  1. Loose Fascia: Since loose fascia is more of a “slippery seam” that keeps the layers stitched together, it is a bit harder to locate. Pinch a portion of the flesh on your forearm and try to move it up and down, back and forth… even take it for a spin by winding it up, whenever you wish to try getting a feel for it. Watch it return to the shape of your forearm by pulling it up and letting it go. Fascia that cannot be categorized as either deep or superficial is what loose fascia refers to. It can be found between layers of deep fascia, between myofascia and deep fascia, and between deep and superficial fascias, as an intervening connecting layer. It can structurally be more like a membrane that is known as membranous fascia or be like a web. The motion of slide and glide is permitted all over your body by loose fascia. Another anatomical finding was spawned in 2018 by this loose zone of fascia. The Fascia vocabulary saw the entry of the term interstitium, after fluid-filled spaces connecting the body together were observed by scientists. These spaces were named interstitium by them, as they were identified as a conduit of movement throughout the body.
Myofascial relaxation of the leg muscles with a massage ball on a gymnastic mat at home. Prevent leg fatigue.

2. Superficial Fascia (aka pannicular or areolar):  Everything starts with superficial fascia. As you read, for an embodied feeling of your fascia, go ahead and squeeze the squishy bits around your belly or the soft stuff over your glutes. Superficial fascia is made of loosely arranged areolar collagen fibers that are web-like in a matrix with adipose (fat cells) and lies just beneath your skin. This layer feels springy, fluffy, or spongy. Fat-filled superficial fascia coats ninety-eight percent of your body. As a matter of fact, your scrotum, labia, nose, ears, lips, and eyelids are the only areas of your body that are missing the protective fatty cushion found in the superficial fascia. Muscles are separated from skin by superficial fascia, enabling them to glide across each other. Your lymphatic flow, the regulation of your body temperature, and your circulation, all experience the involvement of your superficial fascia. Sensory nerve endings pepper your superficial fascia to help provide sensory feedback about various types of pressure and touch to your brain.

3. Deep Fascia: The time to get deep is now. Southwest Physical Therapy suggests that you grip the famous band along the side of your thigh while you read if you want to palpate. A shining example of deep fascia is that your iliotibial (IT) band is right about where the stripes on your Sephora pants land. The appearance of deep fascia or fascia profunda is tough and duct tape-like, with waves in different densities that are crimp-like. It is found surrounding muscles with an arrangement that is highly organized or as a broad, aponeurotic tendon layer that is thickened. Everything is still connected but kept separate with the help of this layer of fascia. Myofascial force transmission occurs in this layer to neighboring muscles or across a joint.

Fascia has such an important role in our body that it is responsible for too much. Is fascia solid, liquid, or interstitium? Movement occurs in the fascial zones that are transitional nature’s true marvel. Plenty of dynamically stabilizing collagen fibers are here, along with pre-lymphatic vessels, resident cells, sensory nerve endings, abundant fluids, and migrant cells. Differential movement is permitted by their zones that exist all over our body. They need to be respected as the biological estuary that they are. It made worldwide headline news when it was named the Interstitium by the renowned Dr. Neil Theise.

You will delight in Gil Headley’s Fuzz Speech video if you have the cojones to see a human corpse’s fascia up close and personal, and will be eternally convinced that movement is medicine and that it is too important to be neglected.We take very good care of you at Southwest Physical Therapy, so you can say goodbye to your chronic pain and limited mobility with our myofascial release therapy. Contact us TODAY, for you’ve suffered much too much already!

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