What is Fascia?

by Ashley Black

Answering this question is not as easy as it seems. It all depends on who you ask. There are many different anatomical or medical terms describing fascia tissue which can make describing fascia challenging to explain. In Latin, fascia means “bundle, bandage, strap, unification, and binding together.”

Some still feel Fasciology is a pseudoscience, while others are passionately convinced that the fascial system holds the key to many health mysteries. However, there seems to be a collective understanding of fascia that it is connective tissue, a communication system, and a fluid system.

After studying the fascial system for many years, trying to find solutions for my disabled body from JRA to a bone-eating bacteria, I decided to simplify what information I could pull together from the many different Eastern and Western philosophies I studied.

The following are “Ashley Black” terms I have made up to help unify the fascia conundrum into simple and digestible ideas. All the different explanations of fascia seem to be organized into these four types of fascia.

Structural fascia

Structural fascia is the fascia that lies just beneath the skin, or subcutaneous fascia. This picture shows the fascia of a chicken breast and the membrane of fascia it is lined with. Tom Meyers, author of Anatomy Trains, describes this as long strips of fascia and traditional textbooks might call this type of fascia a sheath, membrane, aponeurosis, superficial fascia, epimysium or dense connective tissue.

Inter-Structural fascia

Inter-structural fascia is cobweb-like fascia that runs through the structures of the body including the muscles. This type of fascia is commonly referred to as myofascial tissue or “the fuzz” and traditional textbooks might call it interosseous membrane, intermuscular septa, perimysium, endomysium, loose connective tissue and more. What everyone seems to agree on is that this fascia is literally in every nook and cranny of our bodies penetrating virtually every structure such as the brain and joints.

Visceral fascia

This isnʼt blood. Itʼs a sponge surrounded and penetrated by gelatin for a visual.

Visceral fascia is jelly-like fascia that is found in our abdominal region. Most philosophies tend to agree on this type of fascia and actually call it visceral fascia. You have felt and seen this type of fascia if you have ever gutted a turkey and felt the goopy slime inside. Thatʼs the visceral fascia. It surrounds and penetrates the fat and organs in our bellies.

The Spinal Straw

The Spinal Straw Fascia is where it seems Eastern vs. Western traditions are having a stand-off on what to call this. Even an untrained eye can see that the tissue looks like all the other fascia, yet most anatomy books call the three layers dura mater, arachnoid mater, and pia mater. For simplicity, I call it the spinal “straw.”

I hope that this simple description of the layers of fascia can help build a picture in your mind and help you all you search the internet for answers. For the scientific minded, check out our ultrasound images and blood analysis in our recent 3rd party study.

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