If you've ever had a shoulder rub and heard something that sounded like crinkling plastic under your skin, that wasn't your imagination—it was probably your parched, stiffened fascia, says Ruth Werner, the president of the Massage Therapy Foundation, who spent decades teaching anatomy and physiology to other therapists. The collagen fibers that make up fascia need to stay supple to work properly, and to slide over and under muscles and other inner-body surfaces.
The fix: One way to keep the fascia hydrated is obvious: drink lots of fluids, says Werner. Another easy (but easily forgettable) way is to make sure we stand up, stretch and flex regularly throughout the day to keep the fascia from locking up. Werner says some research has also shown that rubbing tight areas—as when you get a massage—can boost circulation and warm the fascia, changing the texture to make it even more pliable.