Fascia: What It Is And 4 Ways To Take Care Of It
I’d like to introduce you to fascia (aka the second layer of skin you can’t see) and how this invisible web is the foundational fabric that’s vital for overall health and vibrant skin.
Imagine a spiderweb-like substance that fully covers and encases every muscle, bone and organ in your body. This is your fascia - a fibrous matrix that sits just between your skin and muscles, stretching from head to toe and touching every single part in between. This thin layer of connective tissue is like scaffolding (or think shrink wrap) that holds everything together. It’s intricately connected and intimately communicates with our entire body - read: the health of our fascia directly impacts the health of our overall body and being.
While research about our fascial system is still only in the beginning phases (similar to research on our lymphatic system), what has been uncovered is that this body-wide covering plays a significant part in feeling youthful, inside and out. We even came across this quote that states, “It’s not your age, it’s your fascia.”
So it’s about time you get to know your fascia and how to take care of it.
Fascia is naturally supported when we cultivate healthy habits - however, the strain of our toxic, stagnant modern-day lifestyle can take a toll on this connective tissue and ultimately, our internal state of wellness.
Lack of movement, dehydration, poor posture, stress, etc. can cause the fascia to become brittle, bunched or bound leading to feelings of tightness and tension. Tightness works just like a traffic jam – blocking the pathway of fluids, like cleansing lymph and nutrient-dense blood flow. Plus when fascia is tight, it can actually pull and negatively impact surrounding areas (remember: this body-wide network is interconnected from the feet to the scalp and everywhere in between) - not only contributing to signs of aging in the skin like sagging and wrinkles but over time can cause serious health imbalances in the body.
While there are countless techniques and tips to prevent (and repair) tight, constricted, dehydrated fascia, today we’re sharing 4 super simple ways you can take care of your fascia for vibrant skin and sense of vitality.
While dehydration can definitely make your skin more susceptible to fine lines and loss of elasticity (even sensitivities and acne) it impacts so much more beneath the surface of your skin: your fascia.
Hydration is the foundation of healthy fascia. Dehydration deeply affects fascia by contributing to the tightening, shortening and hardening of this connective tissue - the opposite effect we’re going for.
Every day our bodies lose fluid from excess sweating, chemicals, dehydrating diets and more, so it’s essential to up our hydration intake – and quality. But it’s not just about drinking more, it’s about *maximizing* the water you’re already drinking so it can actually reach and rehydrate our fascial system.
Here are a few ways to enhance hydration absorption in the fascia:
- Add sea salt and lemon (and even chia seeds) to your water for deeper, longer-lasting hydration.
- Eat your water! Add in more water-rich fruits and veg into your daily diet.
- Sip bone broth before bed.
- Incorporate more detoxing green juices/smoothies.
- Little movements and light stretching are essential to transport water into the tissues and fascia. On that note…
The truth is, you could constantly be drinking green juice and electrolyte water, but still experience dehydration in the fascia. The missing link? Movement. Movement is the delivery system for water to be deeply absorbed by the fascia.
In addition to increasing hydration in fascia, movement is absolutely necessary for keeping this fabric elastic. Because this connective tissue covers every single muscle, its shape is impacted by the way we move - or don’t.
When we lead a stagnant lifestyle and spend most of our time sitting at desk, commuting in a plane/car or on the couch, our fascia contracts and adapts to this position - creating those tight traffic jams of blockages and imbalances. If that isn’t motivation enough to get moving, I don’t know what is. ;)
The good news is that there are easy, effective forms of exercise that help to stretch and reshape fascia from your feet to your face. Daily movements like light stretching, yoga, pilates and foam rolling help prevent fascia restrictions and release adhesions.
Here are a few tips to fit in movement from morning to night:
- Make it a morning habit and stretch as soon as your feet in the floor.
- Set a timer to get up and take a two-minute walk around the office or neighborhood during your workday.
- Take a pilates class with a friend - movement is more fun together!
- Foam roll to unwind bound fascia while watching your favorite show.
Gua Sha + Ridged Facial Rollers
After a full body stretch, let’s focus on the fascia in the neck and face. Have you ever considered doing yoga for your face? Well, these facial tools help you do exactly that to support elastic, balanced and vibrant fascia (aka skin!).
As we mentioned above, it’s through movement that the tissues are nourished, muscles are strengthened and the fascia is lengthened – and facial massage (with gua sha and facial rollers) is one of our favorite forms of movement to restore mobility and elasticity in the facial fascia.
Gua sha is an ancient healing technique rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine, one of the oldest holistic healing modalities on the planet, that has been passed down from generation to generation, making its initial origins a bit of a mystery. But what's not a secret, is that the use of this simple tool has profoundly impacted well-being and enhanced beauty for centuries.
A regular gua sha routine helps to break up adhesions, release bound fascia, repattern pathways and soften tight muscles to move out waste material and sluggish lymph and allow vital nutrients to flow more freely. The result? A more smooth, lifted and sculpted appearance.
Here are a couple facial tools tips to get the best fascia benefits:
- Gua Sha: Using the larger ridges on your stone, take your gua sha strokes into your scalp wiggling the stone at the end of each step. Our facial muscles and our fascia extend well past the hairline and can easily get tangled and tight. Surprisingly (but not, because we now know how interconnected the fascial system is!), scalp massage helps to release and relax the face. Here's a brief tutorial for the best ways to use each side and angle of your gua sha stone!
- Facial Roller: Look for a facial roller with ridges to help soften and smooth facial fascia more effectively! And here's a how-to tutorial for a step-by-step facial rolling routine.
A fascia-softening and stress-reducing tool you always have access to – your breath.
While short, shallow breathing can lead to constricted, compressed fascia, deep, diaphragmatic breathing (aka belly breathing) encourages movement and warms up the connective tissue helping restrictive fascia to soften.
Not only does our ability to deeply and fully breathe benefit our entire fascial system, but it has a profound impact on our mental wellness - which is also intimately connected to the health of our fascia. If there’s only one practice you start implementing today for healthier fascia, make it mindful breathing.
Here’s how to belly breathe for beautiful fascia and a balanced mindset:
- Relax your body and place your hands just below your ribs.
- Breathe in, taking sips of fresh air and filling your belly with oxygen. You should feel your hands rise as your belly expands like a balloon inflating. Inhale for 3 counts.
- Hold here for 3 counts.
- Exhale through your mouth, releasing tension and stale/stagnant air while feeling your hands lower as your belly contacts towards your spine. Exhale for 6 counts.
- Repeat as often as needed! Try setting a timer on your phone as a regular reminder to pause and do some deep belly breathing and eventually it will become a natural rhythm for your fascial (and mental/emotional!) health.
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