Tensor Fascia Latae is Not a Starbucks Beverage

Gordon Hannah of The East End Aikikai Aikido Studio asked me an interesting question; is it possible to perform exercises that stretch fascia? First, know that fascia is kind of like sausage casing; it wraps snugly around your muscles and internal organs. According to the textbook I enjoy beating over my anatomy students’ heads, fascia is “a layer of (areolar) connective tissue between the muscles or separating the muscles from the skin”. Like all areolar tissue, fascia contains collagenous and elastic fibers running in random directions, an abundant blood supply and “a lot of seemingly empty space”. So…can you stretch it? Well, maybe, but the question is why? It is through stretching of your muscles that you improve flexibility and range of motion around the joints of your body. I tried to look up  research in peer-reviewed journals on the stretching of fascia and came up with very, very, very little data. At least one individual claims that you can alter your body’s fascia through techniques outlined in his book (act now and get free shipping, doubtless). And there is an organization that ostensibly is conducting research on fascia, but it seems a bit…ah, shall we say “alternative-medical-market driven”? To improve your health and athletic performance, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends stretching your MUSCLES. Check out this well-done article for more details. 

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