It’s all connected! Movement, strength, and flexibility are all so beautifully integrated in the human body. Like many aspects of our health, the last generation has broken down the training, exercise, and rehabilitation of the human body into isolated units. Yet having an appreciation for the connective power of our fascia can expand and enhance your definition of physical fitness.
Fascia is the overlooked intercellular web that holds us together. It wraps around our organs, muscles, and bones as a support system vital to all functions of the body. As you lift a glass of water to your lips to take a sip, fascia provides the elastic glide between the muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and nerves of your hand, wrist, arm, shoulder, and mouth. It is a neural and muscular connector that helps us respond to stimulus from our environment and our minds.
Though we typically identify with specific muscles and anatomical conditions (like “glutes” or “back pain”), there is no such thing as isolation within the human body. Walking, squatting, lifting, or playing tennis are motions that require chain reactions of lengthening, decelerating, and controlling the connected parts of our body. All motion stimulates our tissues, providing healthy pathways for blood flow, nutrient delivery, and nerve communication. Fascia is the integrative network. Pointing or flexing your toes automatically sets off connected reactions throughout the body, not just the ankle muscles.
From a musculoskeletal perspective, the body is organized to promote fluid sequences of motion. Thomas Meyers is a leader in the research and application of fascia and its relationship to movement. In Anatomy Trains, he identify’s fascial “lines” or patterns within us that help control the mobility and stability of the human form. These tracks include the fascia that connects both deep and superficial layers of muscles on the front, back, and lateral aspects of our body. The integrative “spiral line” connects the special relationship between opposite arms, legs, and the “core” muscles in-between.
The answer for healthy muscles, bones, nerve communication, and fascia remains consistent: full body motion, and lots of it. Tight muscles, joint pain, cramps, and chronic injuries are signals from our body to move more authentically. We are designed for consistent motion, regularly, and every day. Work on personalizing a combination that works for you, your body type, and where you currently are in your life’s routine. Here are some parting tips for healthy fascia:
- Walk every day if you can, it’s the most fundamental full body exercise.
- Move during your day AND plan personal time to exercise.
- Limit your seated time to half hour increments when possible.
- Learn and practice different combinations of full body exercises.
- Practice safe variations of stretches and exercises you are comfortable with.
- Participate in activities that require different combinations of stimuli (sports, gardening, hiking, dancing).
- Foam rolling, massage, and fascial release techniques can help with “sticky” spots of tissue.
- Drink plenty of water and replace processed foods with real foods in your diet.