Fascia. Our body is full of it. It’s the connective tissue that holds us together and everything within us, where it’s supposed to be.
In Latin, Fascia means “band” or “bundle”. It is made mostly of collagen and it is throughout our entire body. It holds every organ, blood vessel, bone, nerve fibre and muscle in place. Under ideal conditions your fascia is malleable enough to twist, bend, slide and glide as you do.
Fascia is meant to stretch as we move. Certain things can cause fascia to thicken and become sticky. When this happens it tightens around muscles and limits mobility. Painful knots and adhesions often develop. Unhealthy fascia can be caused by:
- a sedentary lifestyle
- poor sleep habits
- poor nutrition
- muscle overuse or injury
Often it’s difficult to determine if the soreness that we feel is joint, muscle or fascia related. A rule of thumb is that if it hurts more after movement it’s likely a joint or muscle issue. If it hurts less after movement it could be fascia tissue that has stiffened up.
Have you ever noticed that when you “stand up straight” you actually feel good? Try it now. Stand up. Get your shoulders back but keep your chin down. Ensure your feet are pointed forward and tighten your butt muscles. Your hands are relaxed at the sides of your body. Lastly, lift your head like there’s a string attached to the top of it that someone is pulling on. Does that make you feel strong or what? Hopefully it does because that is where your body is its happiest. Fascia tissue is there to keep us in that position when we choose to be in that position. When we choose to be slumped over a desk, fascia tissue tightens up to that position and then it becomes a fight to get into a standing position. Voila – all of that pulling results in pain.
A healthy lifestyle, full of movement, great food and rest, is the answer to avoiding and/or reducing pain caused by sticky/thick fascia tissue. Pain is our body’s way of telling us something isn’t right and that we need to fix it or it will get worse. Sure things like foam rollers, stretching and massage help but the reality is it has to be done daily to get rid of the pain. That’s why an array of movement is so important. The bigger your repertoire of movement is on a daily basis the smaller the opportunity for fascia to stiffen up!
For a moment, think about the type of moving you want to be able to do in 5 years from now. Whatever it is, you have to be doing it now (or working toward doing it) or you won’t be able to do it then.
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