Fascinated by Fascia…

So, what is Fascia?

Fascia is the substance that encapsulates muscles and organs. Imagine peeling the skin off an orange. Underneath, each segment is wrapped in its own pod or skin.  This is similar to the human body – underneath the skin tissue, all the individual muscles and organs are wrapped in fascia.

Fascia can react a little haywire after operations, through the ageing process or during any trauma, like a sporting injury or accident. The fascia and tissue can stiffen and tighten, resulting in restricted movement and flexibility.  Through stretching we can effectively stretch the fibres of the connective tissue and the surrounding fascia which helps to keep the action of the muscle hydrated and less ‘gluey’.

Rest is also important for the rehydration of fascia and tissues. Exercise drives the water out of the tissues, like a sponge being squeezed dry. Rest is like emersing the sponge back into water, rehydrating the fascia and tissue ready for more exercise.

By stretching and rolling, our tissues enjoy this regular source of nourishment which can help regain that spring-like factor! Fascia is also related to our proprioceptive system – sensing where our limbs are in relation to where we want them to be. This adds to control of our movements, and how graceful or wild we can be with these movements!

Here are a couple of ways that you can help release Fascia:

Well, I have been nagging about it in class but lots of slow, controlled stretching is a great way to start.  Aim to hold your stretches for at least 30-60 seconds, if not longer for that true fascial release.

My main focus areas would be the glutes:

Lay down on your back, crossing one ankle over the opposite knee and pull the legs in towards you, keeping the tail bone lengthened away.

And neck:

Stand, preferably facing a mirror, tilting your head gently to one side, feeling that stretch down the long side.  Try placing your hand over your upward facing ear to gradually increase the stretch…

But also everyone’s favourite – the lovely stability rolls!  Come on, get them out from behind the sofa or in the cupboard, wherever they may be collecting dust! If you haven’t got one I highly recommend getting one!  Roll out those upper backs, back of thighs, fronts and sides of thighs. Does it feel bruisy? The more you roll the less discomfort you feel and the deeper you get into that oh so helpful fascia!!

It really is worth it.

(Please remember though, for any major issues consult your regular physio or osteopath for any contraindicative exercises).

Lets all try and be Fascia-nable in March…and beyond!

Keep smiling!