I'd like to talk about the importance of fascia, connective tissue hydration, stretching and how they impact the success with corrective exercise programming.
A few years ago, Dr. Gil Hedley posted a educational and entertaining Youtube sensation video called The Fuzz.
In it, Dr. Hedley makes a very complex subject simple. Through the use of real human cadavers, Hedley clearly demonstrates how connective tissue restrictions (the fuzz) between the muscles (fascia) needs to be freed up to enjoy a pain free life and living.
You might be thinking, why is fascia so important? Have you ever woken up completely stiff all over and wondered why?
Our fascial matrix is like an internal skin. It covers all of our muscles, nerves, arteries, veins, organs, and bones. Every structure in your body is covered in fascia. It acts as a communication system of the body through which:
- blood and nerve supplies travel
- most of the immune system exists within it
- feelings of pressure, proprioception and interception are located
The brain constantly receives information on how the body is positioned both internally and in relationship to movement.
Sadie Nardini (Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga) explained it beautifully in her blog:
"Each night while we sleep, or any time we're still for long periods, like sitting in a car on a long road trip, our body begins to build collagen fibers. They look a little like cotton candy, and are just as sticky, causing friction between what should be smoothly sliding muscle surfaces. The end result is the stiffness you might feel in the morning getting out of bed or standing up after watching a three-hour movie.
Now, this is usually no big deal for those of us with a consistent movement practice. We feel creaky, we do yoga, we're good. But if you don't lubricate your joints and move your muscles to break up the fuzz regularly enough, it begins to knit together. Over time, the normal, subtle stiffness becomes limited movement, and even pain as the spider-webbed, bound body tries to move against resistance. Instead of confronting the fuzz, to avoid discomfort, many people simply move less. It becomes a vicious cycle that we often chock up to aging, but really is a cumulative, and mostly avoidable, buildup of fuzz.
Now, that's not to say that all physical slowdown is due to the fuzz, and if we simply stretch more, we will never feel the effects of age. But there is much more we can do to keep our bodies--and therefore our minds--as open, vital, and free as possible. "
Through the dissection, Hedley shows the audience how the lack of motion, or inhibition of correct movement patterns results in fascial tissue binding and as he calls it "pathological states" of mobility.
Basically, Hedley supports the following viewpoints:
- correct movement patterns and stretching maintain the sliding properties of tissues in the body
- how valuable bodywork modalities such as Corrective Exercise combined with Self-Myofascial Release techniques, Pilates and Yoga are when movement has become inhibited.
I couldn't agree more! As a Corrective Exercise Specialist who practices ALL of these therapeutic modalities, I can tell you that self-myofascial release and corrective exercise should be the first course of action prior to starting a mind/body or exercise program.
Why? A well-designed corrective exercise program addresses and corrects the primary problem (root cause) of the postural compensations and dysfunctions which lead to fuzz accumulation.
Gil Hedley, Ph.D., made this clip when filming his DVD series in 2005. Back then he called the fuzz "filmy fasciae" and said:
"By using something visible to illustrate something invisible, people are helped to understand the importance of stretching, but for those wanting to understand more precisely, it is important to comprehend the difference between my illustrations using normal tissue "fuzz," and the kind of bonding which is taking place invisibly in connective tissue which can, in some instances, represent a pathological progression of tissue growth limiting movement."
So, along with all the reasons to practice the benefits of good posture, we can add healthy fascia and connective tissue. All the more reason to keep the body functional.
If you have poor posture, have recurring injury, or chronic muscle and or joint pain, a corrective exercise program that includes SMR (self-myofascial release) is the best place to start!
Address the imbalances and dysfunctions in the load joints, get out of pain,then get out there and enjoy your life. Do CrossFit, run, Pilates, yoga, boot camp, Zumba, or whatever gives you joy in movement.
A Pain Free Life and Living is within reach!
Stock Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
Head Photo Credit: Melissa Thome Photography
Author: Deb Preachuk is a Certified Foundation Training & STOTT Pilates Instructor, Corrective Exercise & Posture Alignment Specialist, and the founder/owner of Pain Free Posture MN. You can follow Deb on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, or subscribe to her YouTube, Pinterest or Instagram pages.