11 questions about fascia (expert interview)

Faszien - a term that is currently on everyone's lips. But what are fascia and what are they good for? This and other questions answered Faszienforscher Dr. Robert Schleip, Human biologist and director of the "Fascia Research Project" of the University of Ulm in our interview.

1. What are fascia?

Dr. Schleip: Fasciae are white, muscular connective tissue that surrounds bones, muscles, tendons and organs as a shell. Our fascia forms a network that runs through the whole body, giving it structure. In the past, this tissue was rather neglected in conventional medicine. It has been considered more or less as a "packaging organ".

2. What is the function of fascia?

Dr. Schleip: In recent years, it has been found that this muscular, fibrous and elastic connective tissue has many important functions in the body: It is one of our most important sense organs for the body perception. Over 100 million nerve endings are located in this collagen tissue network. Collagens are fiber-forming proteins of the connective tissue.

Another feature is that fascia affects muscle-to-muscle transmission. Fascia support and shape the body as well. Thus, healthy fascia, for example, can prevent back pain.

3. How come that fascia stick together and what are the consequences?

Dr. Schleip: Healthy fascia and fascia at a young age often have a scissor lattice-like structure and are thus optimally elastic. In elderly, injured or untrained people, the tissue matted by the collagen fibers have a disordered geometry and stick together.

Mostly this is due to a lack or wrong use - so lack of movement. These Undercharge of the fascia happens quite often. However, felted fabric can also occur if a part of the body was plastered. As a result, one is no longer so mobile and becomes stiff.

In athletes, the fascia also felt, which then on one Overstraining the fascia is due.

4. Fascia should cause back pain - is there something about it?

Dr. Schleip: Yes that's true! However, we still do not know the percentage of fascia responsible for back pain. What we do know, however, is that even if there is a herniated disc, it is not responsible for the back pain in most cases. For at least 80 percent of the back pain states: cause unknown.

And here the fascia comes into play. It has been found that these are significantly changed and sticky in back pain patients than in age-matched, healthy people and that the back fasciae in humans have numerous nerve endings that serve the perception of pain and movement.

5. Are then many supposed muscle injuries more likely injuries of the fascia?

Dr. Schleip: You can say that, yes. The so-called muscle soreness, for example, should actually "Faszienkater" be called. Because the free nerve endings, which are very sensitive one to two days after the exercise, lie in the fascial muscle sheath and not in the muscle itself.

However, it is not known exactly why the fasciae now hurt when sore muscles. It could be that the muscle sheath has suffered micro injuries. However, it could also be that the muscle itself was injured, and the muscle sheath then hurts as a designated alarm tissue.

6. Is fascia training good against muscle soreness?

Dr. Schleip: For sore muscles, fascia rolls can be of help. These not only stimulate the connective tissue, but also the skin, muscles and other tissue types. There are now relatively reliable, evidence-based reviews that show that the sore muscles through a subsequent rolling - I would now call regeneration treatment rather than training - is efficiently reduced. And even more so than subsequent massages; presumably because when rolling the circulation and stimulation are promoted even more than with massages.

New studies, including in the Journal of Sport Rehabilitation, have also shown that with rollers with vibration core, the subjective pain attenuation is even more intense.

For example, if you warm up with a fascia role before playing sports, you have a good chance of winning one To prevent muscle soreness. Warming up improves blood flow to the body and increases the elasticity of the muscle sheaths so that injuries are less likely to occur. Although this preventative effect is not clearly established, it does indicate something. But here, too: If you overstrain yourself during training, you have to expect pain.

7. How can I train my fascia and what does the training bring?

Dr. Schleip: There are four pillars that allow you to train your fascia optimally:

  1. With Fascia rolls or balls you can keep the connective tissue supple and loosen glued fasciae. However, the roles are not the only option and are not enough for a Faszientraining alone.
  2. At least as important springy, erratic movements, which keep the fascia elastic. Unfortunately, in the health sport, this bounce training was long ignored, as it was felt that one could train muscles and circulation differently more efficiently and thus have less overload damage. However, it is now important to rediscover bouncing and springing movements, as one trains through them rather the white than the red tissue. Although you can not train these two types of tissue separately, you can focus on them. Example sports would be jump skipping or trampolining.
  3. In addition, do stretching expansions, similar to a cat, the tissue is good. Here it is important that stretching not only stresses a muscle, but is carried out holistically and dynamically. Because this stimulates the fascial chains that run over several joints. Especially suitable here for example, yoga, Thai Chi or Qi Gong exercises.
  4. Last but not least, fascia should also function as a perceptive organ fine, sensory movements be trained. Sports scientists often talk about so-called sensorimotor training. An attempt is made to train the body feeling by switching off visual stimuli (eg closing eyes) or difficult conditions. This includes, for example, the targeted nestling of individual vertebrae on a backrest while sitting.

8. How often and how long should I train my fascia?

Dr. Schleip: It always depends on what you want to achieve. If you want to break down old collagen tissue, daily rolling is recommended for a few minutes per area. But if you want to strengthen collagen, I would only roll every two to three days, because the collagen buildup needs a certain amount of repercussion time.

9. Can I do something else for my fascia?

Dr. Schleip: Of course, exercise is the most important thing for our fascia. But also one balanced nutrition and Healthy sleep come into play here. A healthy lifestyle, in addition to sufficient exercise, can help to keep the fascia elastic.

10. How can I tell if I'm overdoing it with fascia training?

Dr. Schleip: It is precisely these springy, hopping movements described above that cause a certain youthful lightness in us emotionally. This feeling can cause people to overestimate themselves. Then they run the risk of exaggerating the training. Strains or similar injuries can then be the result.

Especially older men you have to slow down in this exuberance. Instead, they should train "age-appropriate", that is slowly and in a dosed manner. Women may experience bruising or spider veins if they overdo it with the fascial role.

In America, this behavior is more common than in Germany to observe: US women treat themselves here until they get bruised. Supposedly that should help against cellulite. Significantly healthier is a lower-dose and above all gentle training, which can lead to tightening of the skin in the long run. Also, regular jogging visibly reduces cellulite. But you should always keep in mind that cellulite is also genetically determined.

11. Are there certain groups of people for whom fascia training is rather inappropriate?

Dr. Schleip: Stretching stretches are good for almost everyone. Equilibrium movements, as practiced by frequent joggers, can overtax the fascia. Also with the springy bounce training you have to be careful. People with inflammation in the body should first let it fade before they can get into training with light rocker movements. Even people with osteoporosis should practice bouncing movements only after medical consultation.

In addition, people who frequently catch bruises in everyday life - and sometimes without knowing where - should start with a soft fascia role and gradually increase. Because these people have one weak connective tissue and would contract bruising with a hard role.

Conclusion: Faszientraining as a supplement

Dr. Schleip: With all the enthusiasm you should see a fascia training as a supplement - and not as a substitute - for muscle, circulation and coordination training. As so often does it make the combination here.

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