But what even is fascia? You can’t see yours, but everyone has it. Put in the simplest terms, fascia is your body’s connective tissue that surrounds muscles and organs. Experts use lots of creative imagery to try and explain it: “it’s like the white, fibrous layer of an orange peel”; “it’s plastic wrap around your muscles, like a sandwich”; “it’s like the compartments of a T.V. dinner.” If you’re still confused, that’s okay, because even researchers are mystified about the extent to which fascia exists in your body.
“We think of fascia like a tissue that supports muscles and tissues,” says Charles Kim, MD, assistant professor in the Departments of Rehabilitation Medicine and Anesthesiology, Perioperative Care, and Pain Medicine at NYU Langone’s Center for Musculoskeletal Care. “You can think of it as a bag of support around a substance.”
Every move you make, every step you take, your fascia reacts to you. “If you’re dehydrated, suffer an injury, or perform any kind of high impact activity, this can cause the fascia to clamp up and adhere to itself and other structures in the body, such as muscles, bones, and skin. This makes your fascia rigid and stiff, which causes pain, tightness, or just dull soreness.
“In modern medicine, we don’t have all the explanations or knowledge of exactly what fascia is, but we do know is that some people get adhesions to fascia and tissue, which cause irritation and pain, Jeannie Curtis says. “Physical therapists use myofascial — which means muscle and fascia — release methods to break up the fascia.”