Doctor MaryJayne on Wellness

Fascia....Fascinating

In the world of Fitness and Wellness that I like to call home, we are challenged with attempting to Listen to what our clients are telling us about their body, to Look at their posture and movement patterns and to Provide exercises, techniques, and advise to help them live a life of “whole person health.”

Over the past several years, more and more attention has been given to the “Fascia” of the body. According to Medicine.net, Fascia is the latin word for band or bandage. Fascia is the connective tissue that literally bands us together to help give us shape. In the past, we used to think of connective tissue as sort of a lifeless thing like a rubber band or duct tape that just held muscle to bone or bone to bone in order to help us move. But now we have come to realize what all of my clients know.

“It's ALIVE!”

The fascia forms a complex web beginning deep within the muscle, encapsulating each individual muscle cell, fiber, group of fibers and muscle groups. Through this network, somewhat like fiber optics, it seems to be able to communicate through all parts of the body, affecting joints, posture, mobility, and some might even say organ function.

Books have been written about the concept of fascia – much more in-depth than I can go in to here. So why AM I going into it here?

Because what you know about fascia an help you feel better, function more easily, and train more effectively.

 The primary job of fascia is to provide structure and support for our muscles and bones – and it is continually working to do so. According to Schultz and Feitis, in their book The Endless Web, this process actually begins in utero! Through each and every day of our entire lives, fascia is there – like a happy spider – weaving its web of support.

Where we experience problems is when we have habitual or repetitive activities (or non-activities..) which cause the fascia to want to support us in a way that is not optimal. For example: slumping at a desk, slouching in a car or couch, trauma, immobility from an injury, running, cycling, swimming, hairdressing, purse carrying....we can all think of examples of types of movement that over the long term could potentially cause problems. When our bodies encounter this type of biomechanical stress, our loving fascia weaves it web thinking is it there to support us.

Unfortunately when this happens the fascia can cause pain and/or lead to further movement dysfunction than can actually wreak havoc with our bodies that could lead to serious intervention such as surgery! Imagine being able to regain mobility, reduce pain, and avoid medication or surgery simply by taking care of our fascia!

Take a look at this wonderful short video by Dr. Gil Hedley. Dr. Hedley does a great job of explaining fascia – what he calls “The Fuzz”.

You can do a lot to help “reduce the Fuzz” in your own body. First – move! Bend, stretch, wiggle, waggle, shimmy, shake.....simply move. However, even those of us who move for a living, still have areas of “Fuzz” we need to adress. We can do that ourselves with a technique called myofascial release by utilizing small balls, foam rollers and massage techniques to help break up the “Fuzz” and release the fascia. (Watch for my new video “Pilates on the Foam Roll” which includes a full body set myofascial release movements using the Foam Roll). Finally, consider incorporating the help of a qualified body worker who is trained in myofascial release techniques. By simply taking care of you fascia, you can gain movement, reduce pain, improve sleep patterns, and grow young!

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