I recently had the opportunity to do a presentation on fascia at a TRE training. I have always been somewhat fascinated with fascia-it always seemed mysterious and magical in appearance and function, and when speaking of fascia, many people put their hands out, palms up, and shaking their heads slowly and say “we have no idea…."
However, because of my preparation for my presentation, I found out that actually, yes, people DO have ideas about fascia! There are researchers not only asking great questions, they are coming up with fantastic answers! So I wanted to share some of the things I have learned in a short ongoing series about fascia.
To begin with, let’s identify what it is. Fascia is essentially connective tissue that runs throughout the body. It covers your muscles, it forms your tendons, ligaments, it runs through your organs and bones. It is everywhere. Think of a grapefruit and the whitish membrane that covers the pulp, separates the sections from each other and connects the skin to the fruit and you have an idea how fascia exists in your body. And like that grapefruit “fascia," it is different strengths and thicknesses through your body.
An interesting thing to consider is that it is thought that fascia gets the signal to move a body part before your muscle tissue. So when your brain says “Let’s go places” the fascia is the first to mobilize. The other interesting fact to put with that is that your fascia molds itself to the shape or position that you have spent a long time, or a life, time in. What does that mean on a practical level? As you stand up to get out of the chair you have been sitting in for a few hours while checking your email with your right leg crossed over your left leg, your hip extensor and quad muscles may be fired and ready to go, but your fascia, which has kind of settled into the position you were sitting in, is still kind of molded to that sitting position, and not always ready to leave. So you get up, you feel stiff, creaky and rusty and you find it hard to take the first step without feeling like something is going to break off or that you are going to fall over. Pause, shake your body out a bit, give your fascia some time to get with the program. Give it yet another signal that you are going to start walking, take a deep breath and then start to go. Consider that the fascia is in charge here-nothing is going to start moving until it is ready, and respect that hierarchy.
Not being in the same position for a long amount of time will ease this kind of facial constriction. Staying hydrated will help to. So a great idea is to drink a ton of water when you are working. This helps keep you hydrated AND moving because you will have to get up to go to the bathroom more frequently.
Of course practicing yoga helps, but you already knew I was going to say that. Yin Yoga is particularly a good practice to loosen up fascia. As fascia is protective in nature (we will get into that next week) you may want to consider Restorative Yoga as well. Until next time, drink up! (By the way, choose warm or hot water with lemon over ice water)
Click here to sign up for Yin Yoga with Sally and Restorative Yoga with Deb in February