Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Fascinating Fascia

I've been reading about Fascia lately. No longer is fascia a mysterious tissue, it's now seen as a dynamic communicative integral part of the body. 

If you've forgotten what it is, it's that vast network of connective tissue, bit like clingfilm, banding us together on the inside. 

Muscles, bones, organs, nerves and blood vessels are woven together by fascia. It provides a 100% inter connected network, banding everything together as a whole. Oneness.

When we stretch we usually think of muscle and tendons but we need to bring Fascia into the frame. Muscle plus tendons equals a Myofascial unit. Therefore in our asana practice we are manipulating both muscle and our fascia at the same time.

Myofascial units connect to make larger myofascial chains which are responsible for our movement. 

Try this.

Pretend you are Kate Winslet in Titanic. Put your arms to the side, open your chest, sternum lifted to the sky, squeezing the shoulder blades together the arms elongate and extend back. Feel all the muscles you are using across your shoulders and chest, stretch stretch stretch and notice the vibration goes into each hand and all the way down your back and beyond. One single stretch vibrates throughout the whole body. Fascia.

My first point is, there is an interconnectedness. Fascia represents the principle of oneness within our bodies.

By bringing the idea of a fascial network uniting us on the inside to our asana practice it may help us to dissolve the illusion that there is an individual self or Atman and that we are connected to a greater transient oneness [Brahman] 

Fascia is more than clingfilm! haha. It's full of innumerable sensory nerve endings, constantly communicating with the brain about the body's position in space. It's the body's inner vision to sense itself. Our 6th sense.

And my second point, the quality of your proprioception   

  1. Proprioception (/ˌproʊpri.ɵˈsɛpʃən/ PRO-pree-o-SEP-shən), from Latin proprius, meaning "one's own", "individual," and perception, is the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement.
has been linked to healthy ageing. 

If your proprioception is high then pain levels will be low.

How does this work? 

High proprioception = skilful daily movement = less likely to have injury.

Now let us link fascia and proprioception.

The fascial system is a major organ of proprioception. So, we need to keep our fascia healthy.

But how?  By varied movements and not repetition. Fascia loves diversity of movement input.

So walk on varied terrains, if you do repetitive yoga and therapeutic exercise break it up with another style of movement. 

For me there is not one single type of exercise that holds all the answers for our body. So mix it up and don't get fixed. Also have regular bodywork and massage to help the fascia stay strong and resilient. 

I have a fascia stimulating roller. The protrusions are hard and it can be a little painful at first to get used to it but it really stimulated the fascia and gets it moving. I bought my at TKMax.

So, if you want your body to support you as you age a variation in movement input seems to be key. Keep that fascia healthy!




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