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What is Fascia?

Written By: 

Hannah Lies, Certified Rolfer


What is fascia? 

As a Certified Rolfer at Runners’ Edge Alaska, I get this question a lot– and it’s my favorite to answer!

Keep reading to find out why Fascia is so fascinating! 

Releasing lower extremity fascia

What is fascia?

What the heck is fascia? Simply stated, it is a thin layer of connective tissue around ALL muscles and organs. For a visual, think about the white we see encasing a piece of meat. It is incredibly strong, yet flexible and provides support and protection. Fascia is an important system in our body that maintains interconnection, communication, and interaction between different parts of the body. 

“Prima material”

In biology, fascia is known to be ‘prima material,’ also called the basic material of the body. Infact, studies have found that in the developing embryo, bone, muscle, tendon and ligaments are all created and connected by fascia.  

  • Bone: Part of this connective tissue evolves into bone
  • Muscle:  Muscle develops as tissue tendrils that grow out through the fascia network 
  • Tendons & Ligaments: Toward the end of each muscle, the fascia thickens into straps we call tendons and ligaments, which work to bind muscle to bone and bone to bone.(1) 

What is fascia’s role in how we move

One fascinating fact about fascia is that it supports whatever pattern of movement and posture the body adopts. In other words, it can either enhance or inhibit the way we move. On one hand, healthy and relaxed fascia helps us achieve proper posture and balanced movement patterns. Then on the other hand, strained, tight and shortened fascia, cause compensations in movement (more on this below).(1) One could argue that the body actually changes its shape to reflect how it’s being used! How cool is that?!

Why is facia important?

For active individuals, athletes, and anyone who desires to move more freely, fascia plays a very important role. 

First off, for various reasons, tissues have a tendency to get “stuck” and the friction between the tissue increases. Therefore, the smooth slide and glide over the muscle decreases, and entire chains of motion are affected. Muscles have to work harder, and we begin to perform compensatory movement patterns. Additionally, we will see asymmetric loads and overloads of some body parts and joints, which may eventually lead to injuries. 

Want more? Check out this article by the Dr. Ida Rolf Institute (where I was trained!): What is Rolfing

3 ways Rolfing can help

Rolfing works in select areas where the fascia, or connective tissue in the body, is “stuck” or “pinned down.” Here are 3 ways Rolfing helps restore balance in your body and relax the tissue:  

  1. Release it– During a Rolfing session, we release these “stuck parts” by providing specific pressure to the area. This will provide pain relief, increase your range of motion and balance your body for optimum posture.
  2. Treat the entire system- Because fascia is a system throughout the whole body, it is important to not only treat the area that hurts, but other areas of the body that is responding to tension that could be influencing the problem area. This is what differentiates Rolfing from traditional massage. Everything is connected! 
  3. Deep breathing- Often times the tissue connecting the diaphragm can get restricted, which makes breathing shallow. A skilled Rolfer is able to release the diaphragm, which improves breathing. Furthermore, full and deep breathing can help fascia throughout the system relax. Unrestricted breathing is a must! 
Many of our clients at Runners’ Edge Alaska have found many benefits from pairing Rolfing with their PT treatment. Read more on that HERE

Now that you are familiar with what fascia is, how it affects our bodies, and its importance in our health, you must feel the same way I do… Fascia is fascinating! 

Want to learn more about fascia, Rolfing, or the 10-series? Let’s chat! Schedule a FREE discovery session with me today!  


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