One of the most effective approaches to achieve optimal mobility for fitness, recovery, injury prevention and improvements in performance has been ignored a long time. Training only partial muscles of the body is ‘old-school’ whereas training the neuromyofascial system is much more effective.
What is fascia?
Fascia is the Cinderella of body tissues. Fascia is an overall name for a whole-body-communication network. It is a connective tissue including the blood and its cells. So it’s much more than just a ‘plastic wrap around the muscles’. It can be said, that fascia forms are the biological container and connector for every organ.
How does fascia webbing function as a system?
The fascia net is a single connected unity in which the muscles and bones float. Imagine, fascia is one big net with muscles squirming in it like swimming fish and the organs would hang in it like jelly fish.
The shape of the body – inside and out – is one of the fascial properties. For every single body there’s a different shape that a net can take. It can be thick, thin, tight, loose, more or less open, flexible or less flexible. Beside this, it fills the space between the organs and works like a deflector of our body. The connective tissue filters all the residue from the lymph and keeps the blood in a continuous flow.
Function of Fascia
The connective tissue determines your shape in the overall sense. It holds the bones together. For a better visual understanding see the tensegrity skeleton. In this model the bones are the primary compression members and the fascia are the surrounding tension members.
It seems, that the skeleton is a continuous compression structure. Imaging the soft tissues would be eliminated. The bones would clatter to the floor, as they are not locked together but perched on slippery cartilage surfaces. Of course, this model is a simplification but it helps to understand the important and complex structure of the connective tissue. So it is evident that the connective tissue is an essential element in our body to hold the organs together, to prevent injuries and to hold the body in an upright position. The second essential part is that the fascial elasticity is stored and can be returned very quickly.
So, how can we use this information for an efficient fitness training?
We’ve learned that every body has different forms and stadiums of a connective tissue… tight, loose, flexible ect…. So, Fascia has elasticity (like a Theraband) and viscosity. Visco-elastic exercises combine springy and stretch movements. Ideally, the body net should be balanced, meaning not too tight, not too loose.
Imbalance, like poor mobility or too tight areas in the body is common for people who are not into fitness training. Here are the most common examples for imbalances in the connective tissue, what can be helped with the specific fascial training:
- Low back pain from tight iliopsoas fascia
- Weak core muscles from tight hip flexors
- Neck pain from compressed fascia
- Plantar fasciitis from tight fascia in the leg
- Poor inhalation from tight psoas
This article should give a small insight to the complex world of fascia. Would you like to learn more about it? Check out the articles by Thomas Myers and Fascia Research Group
Stick around for the next article: Fascial Training: How To Train Fascial Mobility?