Fascial Tissues

Zügel M, Maganaris CN, Wilke J, et al
Fascial tissue research in sports medicine: from molecules to tissue adaptation, injury and diagnostics


This paper has had a lot of traction recently in the world of musculoskeletal medicine. It looks at the fascia structure and talks about it’s properties at an in-depth cellular level as well as looking at injury to the structures. But it’s long winded and it’s medical jargon doesn’t really make much sense. Let me take you through my key take aways and what we, as Physiotherapists, can do to help you if you have an issue with the fascia.

Firstly, what is fascia I hear you say?

Well the dictionary tells us that fascia is a thin sheath of fibrous tissue enclosing a muscle or other organ. Our friends Zügel et al (2018) tell us that this definition is too broad to accurately define the structure and explain that the term fascia actually includes a host of structures including, but not limited to, tendons, ligaments, joint capsules and even the skin! All in all, fascia is a very strong structure.

That’s great but what does fascia do?

Lucas (2011) helps us understand this a little more. She explains that fascia covers all of our tissues and helps them move against one another as we move – let’s not forget that movement is what we are designed to do (just like the picture). Fascia structures help us to resist over stretching tissues as well as providing our internal organs with a structure.

Back to Zügel et al (2018)

Now that we have an understanding of what fascia is and what it does we can link that to my take homes from Zügel et al (2018).

  1. Fascia is involved in force transmission

This doesn’t mean fascia does this in isolation. It works alongside your skeletal muscles and wider MSK system to help move force from one area to another allowing us to move. This then means that if the fascia system is a little too stiff or a little more flexible then we might incur problems with overall movement

2. Fascia can still be injured just like any other structure within the body

Inflammatory markers and hormones have a chemical response in fascia just like when there is injury with any other structure. This can lead to acute and persistent pain responses at local and higher levels. Effectively, in the same way that you develop a tendinitis for example, you can develop injury to the fascia.

3. Exercise continues to be the master of all things!

Exercise has been shown time and time again in the research to help with almost all musculoskeletal pains and injuries and the fascia system is no different. Fascia responds to stretching as well as resistance training and whole body exercise. We’ve already spoken about how fascia is designed to move so it makes complete sense that it would respond positively to movement! A combination of stretching, loading and desensitisation techniques seems to be the most effective approach.

Can Physio help?

The short answer is yes – Physios can help with fascia issues! We are the medical professionals who specialise in movement and exercise. We take in to consideration you as a whole and prescribe you with specific treatment and functional rehab following your assessment so that your symptoms improve. As we have learned, the fascia structures help us to move and a compound treatment approach that utilises targeted and full body exercise is key to improving the durability of this tissue.

But the most important thing here is what you think and I’m keen to hear your opinion! If you’ve got any questions or any thoughts on fascia or anything else please get in touch using the contact page.

Thanks for reading and we will catch up soon =]


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