The official definition of Fascia from the International Fascia Research Congress:
“Fascia is the soft tissue component of the connective tissue system that permeates the human body, forming a whole-body continuous three dimensional matrix of structural support. It interpenetrates and surrounds all organs, muscles, bones and nerve fibers, creating a unique environment for body systems functioning.”
So, this white stuff that envelops everything in our body does more than just serve as a cover but functions as a sensory organ loaded with mechanoreceptors and proprioceptors. Every single muscle fiber in our body is covered by fascia. Whenever a muscle is stretched or contracted, the enveloping fascia must be stretched. In order for muscles to respond to demands, fascia must have normal viscosity. Increased viscosity (density) of fascia will lead to reduced feedback to the brain and muscle incoordination.
One of the primary reasons fascia is able to glide over and within a muscle is due to Hyaluronic Acid (HA)! Most of the HA is located directly beneath the deep layer of fascia. Due to trauma, repetitive stress or inflexibility, HA chains entangle and significantly affect viscoelasticity. Interestingly, as body alkalinity increases, HA gets freed up and enhances fascial gliding!
An Italian P.T. by the name of Luigi Stecco, describes muscle fibers contracting as a collective group and a particular direction of tension will be established with the overlying fascia and there will be a converging point in the deep fascia called centers of coordination (CCs) or a myofascial unit. The CCs are often located in the belly of a muscle and are frequently located proximal to the painful area and are typically quite tender. So, the fascial planes throughout the body are considered connected just as acupuncture points as considered in meridians. So, an anterior hip pain could be resolved by treating an anterior lumbar, pelvic, hip, knee or foot area along the plane.
As a clinician, time has revealed that working on local points may help a local problem but unless tension is removed throughout the whole plane the condition will return. Back, neck, extremity and whole body issues fall into this paradigm. In working with athletes, addressing the entire kinetic chain both fascially and biomechanically will most likely be necessary to uncover causes of dysfunction and have repetitive stress patterns resolve. Manipulation of osseous (bony) structures as well as the myo-fasical tissues together will promote functional restoration of injuries and repetitive stress patterns of pain and loss of function.