Fascia is a buzz-word in the health and fitness industry today. There are advertisements for "deep-tissue" massage, fascial stretching, fascial conditioning, and self-release techniques around every clinic corner. The truth is that there isn't one technique that is better than another and no singular treatment method will solve every problem that we have. Instead what we know is that movement is critical to maintaining a free-moving fascial system that moves freely.
What is Fascia?
Fascia is a connective tissue that flows throughout our body. It stabilizes, encloses, attaches to and binds with the muscles and internal organs. It is a highly complex system that affects the entire body and drastically changes the way that we are able to move. It runs in "lines"throughout our body, which is a topic for another day, but think of it as a link from head to toes for example. In other words, if you feel tight in your feet, this will affect how your back is able to bend, how your shoulders move, or how your neck might feel. Kind of scary, but also fascinating and our understanding of these systems can help us solve a multitude of problems.
What exercise is best?
How should we go about ensuring that this layer of connective tissue functions at an optimal level, or allows you to exercise and move in the best way possible?
The number one answer is to MOVE! Move often and in different ways. We easily become invested in one particular modality of exercise: weight-lifting, cardio, stretching, aerobics, yoga, or whatever is trending. Our team can't encourage you enough to push yourself to try new things, within reason. Your body is meant to move, in a wide variety of ways. Compliment your weightlifting with a day of body weight exercises where you work on your body control at end range of motion. This will allow you to connect through a greater part of your fascia, helping you to ensure that the whole system is on the same page. If you're a die-hard yogi, well you probably have fascia that moves really well, but the underlying tissue and structures probably could benefit from strengthening. Those who are involved in repetitive sports (running, cycling, tennis etc) need to find an activity or movement that compliments their main choice. If you're a runner, stretching after each run won't magically make you flexible. You just took thousands of repetitive steps, 1 minute of stretching won't balance the amount of input your fascial systems received during your run. Try taking 2 days a week to do a yoga flow class to ensure that you're body is being put in positions of restriction and pushed to move beyond.
Challenge yourself in ways that make you uncomfortable
Your body is made
What about the therapy?
Next week we will dive into some of the treatment options available, and offer some suggestions for self-care methods that can greatly improve the health of your fascial systems.