Physiocare Rimbey

Fascia: The long-overlooked tissue that shapes your health

The connective tissue that surrounds your muscles and organs, known as fascia, has always been ignored – but new insights suggest it holds the key to tackling chronic pain and immune dysfunction

The 19th-century anatomist Erasmus Wilson called this tissue – now known as fascia – a natural bandage. In dissection, that is exactly what it looks like: sheets of white, fibrous connective tissue that are strong yet flexible and perfect for keeping muscles and organs in place. They are also sticky, gloopy and get in the way of looking at the muscles, bones and organs they cover. Which explains why, for years, anatomists cut this tissue off, chucked it away and thought little more about it.

What is fascia?

Your body has two forms of fascia: dense and loose. Each type is key to facilitating movement. Dense fascia, made of sturdy collagen fibers, helps give your body its shape. It holds muscles, organs, blood vessels and nerve fibers in place. It helps your muscles contract and stretch, and stabilizes your joints. The more slippery loose fascia allows your muscles, joints and organs to slide and glide against one another like a well-oiled machine.

How does fascia get damaged?

In 2007, an anatomy professor named Carla Stecco at the University of Padova in Italy found that fascia is alive with nerve endings. This means it can be a source of pain. The longer it is damaged or inflamed, the more sensitive it becomes.

When you’re sedentary for a long time, fascia can shorten, become overly rigid and congeal into place, forming adhesions that limit mobility, said David Krause, a physical therapist at the Mayo Clinic. Over time, inactivity can also lead fascia to reshape itself. If you spend most days hunched over a computer, the fascia surrounding your neck and shoulder muscles may change so that your posture becomes curved.

Fascia can also become damaged from repetitive movements, chronic stress, injury or surgery — becoming inflamed, overly rigid or stuck together. And it stiffens with age.

Role of Physiotherapy:

Physiotherapy plays a significant role in maintaining and improving fascia health through various techniques and interventions. Here’s how physiotherapy contributes to fascia health:

  1. Manual Therapy: Physiotherapists use hands-on techniques such as myofascial release, deep tissue massage, and soft tissue mobilization to address restrictions, adhesions, and tightness in the fascia. These techniques help improve fascial flexibility, mobility, and circulation.
  2. Stretching and Flexibility Exercises: Physiotherapists prescribe specific stretching exercises targeting the fascia to improve flexibility and reduce tension. These exercises help lengthen and realign the fascial tissue, promoting better movement patterns and reducing the risk of injury.
  3. Strengthening Exercises: Weak or imbalanced muscles can contribute to compensatory movement patterns and increased strain on the fascia. Physiotherapists design strengthening exercises to target specific muscle groups, improving overall musculoskeletal function and reducing stress on the fascia.
  4. Postural Correction: Poor posture can lead to excessive strain on the fascia and musculoskeletal system. Physiotherapists assess posture and provide interventions such as ergonomic advice, postural exercises, and manual techniques to correct alignment issues and reduce fascial tension.
  5. Modalities: Physiotherapy modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and laser therapy may be used to promote healing and reduce inflammation in injured or dysfunctional fascial tissues. These modalities can complement other interventions and accelerate the rehabilitation process.
  6. Education and Self-Management: Physiotherapists educate patients about the importance of fascia health, proper movement mechanics, and self-care strategies to prevent injury and maintain optimal function. They may provide guidance on home exercises, ergonomic modifications, and lifestyle changes to support fascial health.
  7. Functional Rehabilitation: Physiotherapists incorporate functional movement patterns and activities into rehabilitation programs to restore normal movement patterns and improve functional capacity. This approach helps address underlying issues contributing to fascial dysfunction and promotes long-term recovery.
  8. Pain Management: Physiotherapy interventions such as manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, and modalities can help alleviate pain associated with fascial dysfunction, injuries, or conditions such as myofascial pain syndrome. Physiotherapists work collaboratively with patients to develop personalized pain management strategies.
  9. Prevention and Performance Enhancement: Physiotherapists work proactively with individuals to identify risk factors for fascial injuries and develop preventive strategies. They also provide guidance on optimizing movement efficiency and performance through proper biomechanics and conditioning exercises.

Overall, physiotherapy plays a crucial role in promoting fascia health by addressing restrictions, improving mobility, enhancing function, and preventing injuries. A comprehensive physiotherapy approach tailored to individual needs can help individuals maintain optimal fascial health and overall well-being.


  • Image from New Scientist
  • This article was written with the help of and was vetted for accuracy by a Registered Physiotherapist before publishing. This article is not intended to replace any medical advice, if you have any chronic musculoskeletal problem you are advised to consult the Physiotherapist to arrive at a diagnosis and a proper treatment plan. Thank you. 

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