Quality of movement is severely underrated in the fitness industry. Movement quality cannot fully be understood, without a discussion around fascia. Fascia is the elastic connective tissue fabric that holds us together, and spans through our whole body. Fascia is an intricate, endless web that supports our organs and joints from head to toe. Fascia talks to the nervous system 9-10 x more than our muscles do. If we want a healthy system, we need healthy fascia! In a living body fascia appears watery and runs in multiple directions, showing us how even at base level, the need for hydration and 3D movement is integral for healthy fascia.
Thomas Myers’s incredible work “Anatomy Trains” details specific myofascial meridians in our body that support us. Fascia is the missing in injury treatment and optimal movement efficiency. Traditional fitness programs don’t allow for the degree our fascial systems contribute to movement, or the negative hormone responses that stem of a restricted fascial system. Intelligent fascial release and movement strategies are imperative in boosting and restoring our physical and emotional health. Looking at some of these fascial lines, you can see how tension in one area, can be traced back to an inefficiency somewhere else. Understanding the role of these lines in movement, postural dysfunction, pain referrals, and emotional patterns, has provided invaluable insight into how to best help our clients. These anatomy trains help illustrate how interconnected everything is, and that when pain hits, we need to search beyond the site of pain.
Why is fascia important to address?
Fascia or connective tissue gets laid down in the line of stress (Davis’s Law.) Some areas that don’t move often enough can develop a thicker scar tissue like stiffness. When lines of tissue are repeatedly used, our bodies lay down extra tissue to cleverly make the stressed area stronger. The same is true for bone remodeling via a process of mechano-transduction whereby bone is remodeled in response to mechanical stress. (Yes we can change our bone shape! Slowly)
When fascia is dehydrated and stuck, it gets gluey which is a big problem for the body. Glued up fascia binds multiple layers of tissue, forcing co-contraction. This makes movement restricted and less efficient, often leading to compensation patterns, pain, injuries and general lack of wellbeing. Compare the energy requirements to contract a single muscle, versus several muscles bound together by thickened fascia. It’s energy expensive to be stuck, as your body needs to push through more resistance. When fascial areas become restricted movement becomes clumsy and lacks rhythm and control.
When fascial areas become restricted (think of a trigger point in a muscle) we lose important sensory feedback, and thus become less adept at navigating our environment. The sensitivity of an individual muscle or line of tissue becomes dimmed when it is improperly bound to several others resulting in clumsy movement that lacks rhythm.
Fascial restrictions can result from playing a specific sport that loads repetitive lines of tissue, being injured and immobile, or simply moving through life with a preferred hand/leg. These subtle compensations we have in the body take time to undo, as subconsciously our body will move with the path of least resistance. With improved awareness and fascial freeing, we can start to unglue and undo dominant patterns.
Optimising Fascia in your Training
We can use a variety of tools and techniques to address both local, and global fascial restrictions in our bodies. The brilliance of addressing the fascial system, is that positive change in one area, will influence the whole web like system. Given the vastness of our fascial system, and how interconnected it is to our physical and emotional function, the smallest change can create widespread improvements to how someone moves and feels.
Manual Therapy: We can use hands on structural integration techniques with movement, to create a more lasting change.
Fascial Release Techniques: We teach our clients how to apply fascial release using trigger point balls, foam rollers.
Vibration Training: We can use Vibration to rapidly hydrate fascia, increase massage efficiency, & release tension.
Movement: We use movements to load lines of tissue together for greater fascial change.
Local fascial change has limited success, without further integration of the freshly enriched part back into the system.