What is Fascia?

fascia (/ˈfæʃə//ˈfæʃiə/; plural fasciae /ˈfæʃɨ.i/; adjective or fascial; from Latin: "band") is connective tissue fibers, primarily collagen, that form sheets or bands beneath the skin to attach, stabilize, enclose, and separate muscles and other internal organs.[1] Fasciae are classified according to their distinct layers, their functions and their anatomical location: superficial fasciadeep (or muscle) fascia, and visceral (or parietal) fascia.

Like ligamentsaponeuroses, and tendons, fasciae are dense regular connective tissues, containing closely packed bundles of collagen fibers oriented in a wavy pattern parallel to the direction of pull. Fasciae are consequently flexible structures able to resist great unidirectional tension forces until the wavy pattern of fibers has been straightened out by the pulling force. These collagen fibers are produced by the fibroblasts located within the fascia.[1]

Fasciae are similar to ligaments and tendons as they have collagen as their major component. They differ in their location and function: ligaments join one bone to another bone, tendons join muscle to bone and fasciae surround muscles or other structures.

Wikipedia entry Fascia

Anatomy Trains - Fascia Overview - http://www.anatomytrains.com/fascialfitness/fascial_fitness1.pdf

Fascial Congress Video

Harvard Medical School Conf. Ctr.
October 2007

Click for the abstract.

Click for the
full presentation
(12min, 160MB).


Active fascial contractility: an in vitro mechanographic investigation

Schleip R et al., in: Findley TW & Schleip R (eds.), Fascia research – Basic science and implications for conventional and complementary health care. Elsevier Science, Munich 2007.


With immunohistological analysis we demonstrate the presence of myofibroblasts in normal human fasciae, particularly the
fascia lata, plantar fascia, and the lumbar fascia. Density was found to be highest in the lumbar fascia and seems to be positively related to physical activity. For in vitro contraction tests we suspended strips of lumbar fascia from rats in an organ bath and measured for responsiveness to potential contractile agonists.With the H1 antagonist mepyramine there were clear contractile responses; whereas the nitric oxide donator glyceryltrinitrate induced relaxation.The measured contraction forces are strong enough to impact upon musculoskeletal mechanics when assuming a similar contractility in vivo.

Full text (PDF) available here

The Spring-like Function of the Lumbar Fascia in Human Walking
Zorn A et al., in: Findley TW & Schleip R (eds.), Fascia research – Basic science and implications for conventional and complementary health care. Elsevier Science, Munich 2007 (plus video).

Although almost every person swings the arms and rotates the trunk in walking, the movement of arms and trunk in gait analysis are generally regarded as one inflexible passenger block serving no function in walking. We introduce the hypothesis that the clumbodorsal fascia acts as an elastic spring helping to propel the mass of the trunk forward.

We developed a model of a walking human body which included the legs, the pelvis, the back, the shoulders and the arms. We described the kinetics of this body using accurate mathematical treatment of applied mechanics. The legs are represented by invertedcpendulums. The pelvic and the shoulder girdle are represented by torsion pendulums and the arms by suspended pendulums. A crisscross arrangement of elastic springs acts as a model for the posterior layer of the lumbodorsal fascia (PLF) which is put under tension by the latissimus dorsi and the glutaeus maximus muscles, thus connecting diagonally the contralateral arm and leg pendulums, based on the anatomical findings from [2]. The PLF has an attachment at the trunk (spine) in the lumbar region. Anthropometric data were mainly taken from [3]. The two muscles were assumed to work isometrically, thus giving the LDF a pre-stretch as described in [1]. The elastic stiffness of the PLF in vivo is unknown – instead we used Young's modulus of human tendons. This set of interconnected oscillators in the gravity field was handled by formation of the appropriate Lagrange function. The obtained equation was solved numerically with Maple(TM) software. The time-dependent values of kinetic and potential energies during the cycle of movement were examined.

The lumbodorsal fascia, the latissimus dorsi and the glutaeus maximus muscle together form a continuous bowstring-like sling, being able to periodically exert a sagittal force helping to propel the mass of the trunk forward. Acting in this way, these two muscles (being the largest of the human body) can also do work in the normal walking movement in an efficient isometric way, in addition to the generally recognized triceps surae muscle. The values of the kinetic and potential energies during the stride cycle show a shift from pendulum to spring loading and back again. As such, the PLF acts as an active force transmitter.

In contrast to the traditional gait analysis, the pendulum action of the arms and the spring-like action of the lumbar fascia can have the potential to facilitate energetic efficiency in walking.