Fascia is a term that often flies under the radar when we talk about our health. It’s also something that can vastly improve our quality of life when understood how to treat it right and keep it healthy.
What is fascia, exactly? Fascia is a thin sheet of connective tissue that covers and binds everything in the body to keep it in place. It surrounds every organ, blood vessel, nerve fibre and muscle. Kind of a big deal, right?
It’s made up mostly of collagen, has multiple layers and is designed to stretch and bend as you move. Healthy fascia is flexible allowing you to be mobile and move freely without pain. However, there are several factors that can cause your fascia to tighten up and become knotted. This is called adhesion, and in an ideal world is something that we want to avoid.
Have you ever had a tight, tense pain in your neck and shoulders that you just couldn’t shake? Or have you ever been to get a massage to relieve that knot in your neck that was causing you discomfort? Or do you get shin splints when you go for a jog? That is all the work of your fascia being tight, damaged, or dehydrated in some way.
The good news is that fascia is a resilient structure. With some good old-fashioned TLC, your fascia can get on its way back to being in tip top shape. The better news is that if you already lead a healthy and active lifestyle, your fascia generally takes care of itself.
Here are our top tips on how to best nourish your fascia.
Adhesions between fascial surfaces occur when they’re not being stretched and moved on a regular basis. We all know what that stiff, aching sensation feels like first thing in the morning or the next day after a long walk, and we know that a gentle stretch can relieve that.
If you can commit to stretching for 10 minutes a day, you may be surprised at the increased mobility you gain! Often, our fascia can be tight and stiff without us even realising it, if it’s been that way for a while. There are lots of great fascial stretching videos that you can follow along with online, too!
Fascia is made up of mostly collagen and water, so just like every other important part of your body, it works best when it’s super hydrated! Fascia has been compared to a sponge – if it dries out it can become brittle and hard, but when it’s hydrated it’s springy and resilient.
If you’re struggling to meet your daily water intake, why not try treating yourself to a luxe reusable water bottle? You can make getting in that H2O exciting if you look forward to using a water bottle that you love. We love using Cheeki’s Reusable Water Bottles because they come in lots of sizes and colours.
Eat Fascia Friendly Foods
Foods that are rich in antioxidants, fibre and collagen are all fascia friendly foods as they all contain the vitamins and minerals needed to support a healthy fascia. Don’t worry, none of these fascia friendly foods are calling for you to start a crazy fad diet! Luckily for many of us, these are foods that we are already consuming on a daily basis. Think avocados, tomatoes, onions, garlic, leafy greens, extra virgin olive oil, chia seeds, pepitas, bone broth, fish, kefir and yoghurt. Yep, all those foods are most definitely on the WholeLife favourites list!
As the saying goes: use it or lose it! Staying active (as well as regular stretching) can help keep your fascia limber and healthy. This is especially important for those of us who sit at a desk for hours a day. Sitting for long periods of time can lead to the chronic compression of the fascia, making it more prone to dehydration and adhesion.
To keep active during the day in the office, set a timer on your phone for every hour on the hour and make time to get up and move for 1 minute. It’s the little changes that can lead to big differences over time.
Scientist and health professionals are still learning more and more about the fascia every day, which is a testament to the complexities of the human body. What we do know is that if you lead an active life with a balanced diet, your fascia (and the rest of your body) will love you back!
Featured image via Herbs of Gold