Fascia: The Connective Tissue System
The connective tissue system is referred to by many names, depending on its consistency and function. Most commonly we refer to any connective tissue that supports or lies between or around other tissues as fascia. Fascia is largely made up of water and collagen and other proteins.
Fascia is the soft tissue component of the connective tissue system that permeates the human body. It interpenetrates and surrounds muscles, bones, organs, nerves, blood vessels and other structures. Fascia is an uninterrupted, three-dimensional web of tissue that extends from head to toe, from front to back, from interior to exterior. It is responsible for maintaining structural integrity; for providing support and protection; and acts as a shock absorber. Fascia has an essential role in hemodynamic and biochemical processes, and provides the matrix that allows for intercellular communication. Fascia functions as the body’s first line of defense against pathogenic agents and infections. After injury, it is the fascia that creates an environment for tissue repair.
- Superficial fascia: Refers to those layers of connective tissue just below the skin or closest to the external body that can usually be palpated.
- Deep fascia: Includes the connective tissue between muscles and bones, the periosteum, and membranes of the internal viscera, and others that are less accessible.
- Myofascia: Is fascia associated with the muscle and its neural components.