Superficial Fascia and
Its Role in the Body
If you’ve spent some time here with me, you know that fascia isn’t just a surface-level piece of anatomy. It may be understated, but fascia serves a surprising array of functions and is essential for a healthy body.
There are four types of fascia — superficial (structural fascia ), deep (interstructural), visceral (goopy fascia in the belly), and spinal straw (encasing and feeding the spinal disc). Each one plays a unique role in your body, so today we want to dive deep into the first type, superficial fascia, to gain a better understanding of how this type of connective tissue works and its importance for your other body systems.
What is Fascia?
Fascial tissue is everywhere in the human body, no matter if it's superficial or deep. If you underwent dissection, you'd be amazed how the fascial system can be found throughout it. But this independent system is so much more than just connective tissue. Healthy fascia can alleviate tension, release toxins and help solve other physical problems.
It can heal, clean, provide nutrients, and create a healthier environment for our bodies to live in. In truth, no one really knows all that your layers of fascia do—we've just scratched the surface when it comes to studies!
Learn more by reading my post ‘What is Fascia?’ here! You can also check out leading research studies on Google Scholar and Pubmed.
Why is Fascia Misunderstood?
Most people today don’t have a clear idea of what this fibrous connective tissue is or why it’s important. They think of it just as a casing for your muscles, if they think about it at all.
Here's why fascia is so misunderstood—educators want to keep things simple.
Consider this example. Most of us are taught that superficial fascia runs in long strips like bacon throughout your subcutaneous tissue and cutaneous tissue. The problem with this idea is that it’s an incomplete picture that really only applies to superficial fascia.
Instead, I recommend picturing your fascia as a slice of pizza piled high with toppings. If you started to pull at the top of a slice, you would drag up strings of gooey cheese that wouldn’t want to come free from the rest of the pizza. The cheese on top is like superficial fascia while deep fascia is the strings of cheese being pulled up—it’s all one thing!
Fascia works the same way. It's all interconnected. Your body consists of fascial layers that interact with each other. Just as you may only see cheese on the top of a pizza but know that it’s connected to everything below, superficial fascia is attached to the three other types.
All forms of fascia surround and penetrate the whole body. Just like a piece of pizza and its toppings, fascia stays interconnected and moves as one unit. It connects your ligaments, soft tissue, receptors and more. So while we often see these types of fascia described as two distinct forms, we’re really talking about one interconnected system here.
Superficial vs. Deep Fascia: What’s the Difference?
By common definition, superficial fascia is the lowermost layer of your skin, found just below the dermis. Depending on who’s talking, you might hear it referred to as the following terms: surface fascia, superficial layer, anatomy trains, fascia lines, myofascial fascia (the casing), aponeurosis, sheath, membrane, and even the superficial musculoaponeurotic system.
In contrast, there are four main types of deep fascia:
01. Superficial Fascia: Considered the deepest layer of skin, superficial fascia gives you your outward shape.
02. Deep Fascia: This layer of dense, fibrous connective tissue surrounds individual muscles and ligaments and groups them together for functional movement.
03. Visceral Fascia: Found within your abdomen, visceral fascia surrounds your internal organs and suspends them in place.
04. Fascial “Spinal Straw”: These three layers of fascia surround the spinal column and attach to all the other types of fascia to provide nourishment to the spinal discs of the spine. This type of fascia is also responsible for shortening the distance between vertebrae.
The main way to differentiate between the different types of fascia is to pay attention to where they are found in the body. Superficial fascia is found directly below the skin, housing fat, blood vessels, lymphatics, glands, and nerves, and is separated into cavities called septa. In contrast, deep fascia surrounds individual muscle fibers and penetrates tissues.
Since each of these types of fascia are located in a variety of locations, each has several unique functions. While we're just focusing on superficial fascia from here on, you can look through my other posts for further details about deep fascia.
Next, let’s dive deeper into the importance of superficial fascia and then cover why it matters for more than just your skin.
The Role of Superficial Fascia
Superficial fascia is the surface fascia. It’s what you see when you cut right below the skin. Unlike what you might assume from its name, "superficial” fascia actually does a lot for you.
01. Hold the skin in place:
The lower layers of our skin—also known as the basement membrane—are actually made up of this superficial fascia. Since it's located in various layers of our skin and below the skin, it does a lot for skin structure!
02. Supports the passageway for our lymph, blood, and nervous systems and plays a large part in pain sensory:
This cannot be overstated! As I mentioned previously, your entire body is connected. Pain sensations travel through the whole body, regardless of where they originate. This is due in part to your superficial fascia, which transports the good—and the bad—throughout our lymph nodes, blood, and nervous systems.
03. Plays a significant role in overall health.
Fascia health is an important factor in your overall health. When fascia is working like it should, it helps your body flush out poisonous toxins and feeds cells with oxygen and necessary nutrients to keep systems functioning like they should.
However, unhealthy superficial fascia can cause plenty of problems. It can pull the body out of alignment, which can be painful and increase your risk of injury, and it can also deprive your cells of the nutrients they need to be healthy. In addition, when fascia isn’t working like it should, it leads to toxins getting trapped in your body and causing issues with other systems.
Fascia Toxins and Your Skin
You’ll have physical proof when your superficial fascia isn’t doing its job correctly. When fascia is dysfunctional it can stick to itself and other structures creating dents within your skin. Another name for these dents? Wrinkles and cellulite.
One way to keep fascia from becoming adhered is to increase blood flow through your fascia, made up largely of collagen fibers. That’s where the Fascia Blaster can help. It works to increase temporary blood flow to the site blasted, very evident by the immediate redness of the skin. The blood flow helps flush those harmful toxins out of your body. You want to not only feel good on the inside but look good on the outside. The FasciaBlaster not only increases blood flow but has shown in peer-reviewed science (1) to reduce cellulite, reduce fat, decrease inflammation, increase collagen production and remodel fascia tissue. A great list of benefits!
These blasting devices couldn’t be easier to use. You’ll massage it where you feel tightness, and your fascia will start to loosen up, increasing your flexibility and boosting the nutrient flow. It’s simple to add to your daily routine to prevent toxin buildup and reduce your chances of developing any distortions in the skin.
When you look good, you feel good—and getting rid of unhealthy, stored toxins in your fascia can definitely be somewhere to start!
Takeaway: Give Your
Superficial Fascia Some Credit!
By now I hope you’ve come away with a better understanding of superficial and the surprising roles it can play in your overall health. Learning about fascia can help you grasp the concepts of what it means to live and move in a healthy body.
By understanding how it's all connected, you can then learn how to best treat pain, problems, and any other toxins in your body.