Fascial Fitness – Part 2

We introduced you to the term fascia in our July 1 blog, Fascial Fitness – Part 1.  It is important to understand that if you want to make permanent physical changes to your body you can’t just train your muscles, you have to train your fascia too.

Our seamless fascial web that surrounds and connects throughout the body regulates the biomechanics of tension and compression in the body.  It is not passive, it can respond to movement by becoming stronger, more elastic, more stretchy, and more communicative.   It can also get injured, and actually most tissue injuries that we experience are injuries to our fascia and not our muscles.

Since our fascia is so important to how we move we need to exercise our fascia every time we exercise our muscles.  It just makes sense.

Start by stretching the fascia after you’ve warmed up.  This will allow for greater, more fluid and cohesive movement during exercise.  When stretching the fascia you have to move away from isolated thinking.  It is not like stretching a single muscle or muscle group (for example the hamstrings).  Stretching fascia is stretching an entire chain, think head to toe.  Since fascia is a web stretching the fascia in multiple directions is also important (visualize those cobwebs that we like to hang for Hallowe’en).

Again visualizing our fascia web you can see how repetitive movements in training will lengthen and release some parts of the fascia but leave other areas less mobile.  Fascial training is therefore all about whole-body movements that engage fascia chains and in a variety of directions.  Training fascia in a variety of loads and tempos has also proven to be beneficial.

The fascia is very elastic and bouncing is a great way to build elasticity into the tendons and the entire fascial system.  And you can maximize the elasticity of your fascia and improve movement by making a countermovement in preparation of an exercise (for example swinging the leg back before kicking it forward as high as you can).

Many familiar exercises can be adapted for fascial training.  For example the bird dog exercise that is often used for back and shoulder stability as well as core training can become a fascial stretch if you keep your arm and leg up for an extended period of time and stretch finger tips to toes.  You may experience a burning sensation during the stretch and that is a good sign that you are stretching the fascia.

Keep in mind that exercising too hard too fast is a risk for fascial injury and adhesion.

Keeping hydrated when exercising is always important and here’s another reason why, the majority of the volume of fascial tissues is water, it is like a sponge.  So drink plenty as part of your fascial fitness program.