Fascia and Tensegrity
Fascia is the biological fabric that holds us together. You are about 70 trillion cells all humming in relative harmony; fascia is the 3-D spider web of fibrous, gluey, and wet proteins that hold them all together in their proper placement. How fascia works as a whole – our biomechanical regulatory system – is highly complex and under-studied. Understanding fascia is essential to the dance between stability and movement – crucial in high performance, central in recovery from injury and disability, and ever-present in our daily life from our embryological beginnings to the last breath we take.
There are many designations for different areas, topologies, and histologies within biological fabric. Traditionally, ‘fascia’ as a medical term applies only to certain sheets of fabric within the body – what we call the plantar fascia, for instance, is actually the plantar aponeurosis. Thoracolumbar fascia, the fascia lata, the pannicular fascia, the fascia profundis – these are recognized by science to be fascial sheets.
Here, though, and increasingly in scientific and research circles and professionals worldwide, ‘fascia’ has a wider definition: all the collagenous-based soft-tissues in the body, including the cells that create and maintain that network of extra-cellular matrix (ECM). That definition includes all the tissues traditionally designated as ‘fascia’ in classical anatomy, plus all the other very similar tissues arrayed in different ways around the body; tendons, ligaments, bursae, and all the fascia in and around the muscles – endomysium, perimysium, epimysium. Also included would be the fascia around the organs: the coelomic bags that hold the organs in the peritoneum and mesentery in your abdominal cavity, the mediastinum, pericardium, and pleura that hold the organs in the chest cavity, and the membranes – dura and pia and perineuria – that surround the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves.