Whilst embarking on more challenging forms of activities such as cliff climbing, skiing, wake boarding and mountain climbing it is predominantly the arms and legs that have to be strong enough to enable the participant to do well at their chosen sport.
However, if it were only the arms and legs that were being relied upon then that strength would be as good as useless in all the sports mentioned above. This is because everything we do requires us to use our core muscles. Our deep, stabilising abdominal muscles, and many of our other muscles as well, to help us to co-ordinate our movements, to balance ourselves and to have overall strength.
Our bodies are amazing! They work as a perfectly well-oiled machine. Everything synchronised. So, if we don’t work in a segmented way, what is it that makes us weld together and work as a unit?
One of the answers is fascia.
What is your fascia?
In essence, your fascia is one big continuous net that surrounds everything in our bodies, including our skeleton, muscles, nervous system and organs. The term is derived from Latin and means ‘band’, or ‘bandage’.
Thomas Myers, author and thought leader in fascial systems describes the fascia as:
‘…The biological fabric that holds us together, the connective tissue network. You are about 70 Trillion Cells – Neurons, Muscle Cells, Epithelia – all humming in relative harmony; fascia is the 3-D spider web of, gluey, and wet proteins that bind them all together in their proper placement.’ (1)
Recent research has shed light on just how much fascia matters, from affecting range of motion in joints to the role it can play in injury prevention and healing. Like the musculoskeletal system, the fascial system changes in response to repeated stress and injury. Small changes in the fascia in one area of the body, can ripple out and affect the body as a whole. It is important to look after it.
To keep the fascia healthy:
1. Keep moving- sticky adhesions can form between the fascia and affect joint mobility. Take a break from sitting down and walk for a few minutes every hour.
2. Stretch – fascia like muscles needs to be stretched out; ease gently in and out of these stretches.
3. Stay lubricated - just like every other tissue and organ in your body, your fascia is made of water. It works better, moves better and feels better when it’s hydrated. Drink plenty of water!
4. Rest – after a long day at work (especially if you have been at a desk all day) it is important to give your body a chance to relax, unwind and allow the fascia to loosen from those tight muscles. A warm Epsom salt bath is the perfect way to do this!
Pilates exercises and fascial release work go hand in hand as in Pilates we work in many different positions keeping the flow of movement going throughout the session. We focus on range of movement, on strengthening and lengthening muscles and fascia. We also use small equipment and the foam roller that can aid in fascial release.
If you feel you would benefit from some ‘fascial release’ and would like to book a Pilates session please call the Bridge to Health team to book an appointment.
1: Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists
By Thomas W Myers.