It’s called your body’s second skin, the structural tissue that holds your muscles, bones, organs and nerves in place. While your muscles may move you, it’s your fascia that gives you shape.
If you’re active, maybe even a recreational athlete or ever had tightness or stiffness you’ve probably heard of your fascia, how it wraps around your muscles and how you need to release it in order to release the pain.
During one of my Body Balancing Sessions, I learnt how your fascia tissue can impact your posture and thus pain and performance. How removing tension can often be done by reshaping your fascia tissue and reteaching it to settle into the correct position. I learnt that a healthy fascia is a hydrated one and that doesn’t have anything to do with the amount of water your drink and that foam rolling, the hero of myofascial release isn’t always the best way to treat tight fascia tissue.
To clear up the facts on fascia; and how you can keep it hydrated and healthy, I asked Alon Davidow a few questions. Below he shared his insight into how you can keep your fascia healthy and in turn your body more relaxed and pain free.
How does your fascia impacts thing like posture, pain and performance?
Fascia is the structural tissue of the body. Have you ever wondered when you try sit or stand up straight it seems like a lot of effort? The reason for this is because the fascial shapes us. Our muscles move us.
If your fascial net is shaped in a slouched position due to chronic bad posture your muscles are no match to pull you up against this postural power house.
Fascia is the tissue that prevents your arteries from exploding every time your heart beats. Fascia has the tensile strength of over 900kg of pressure.
Think of a guy riding his bike at 32km per hour into a wall. That gives you an idea of how much force the fascia can withstand. Can you imagine the effort and strain muscles need to go through to change your posture? To sit straight, you need to reshape your fascial net, not strengthen your muscles.
The benefits of reshaping this tissue are many.
Tight fascia causes friction on the millions of nerve endings that sit inside it. This aggravation over-stimulates the nerves causing sensitivity and pain.
Tight fascia also affects coordination and balance.
Watch a professional athlete and you will admire the beauty and elegance of their movement. The symphony of thousands of muscle fibres contracting and relaxing is made possible due to a well-conditioned fascial net. For smooth, rhythmic and precise movement to happen, muscles need to be able to work independently-known as muscle differentiation.
Tight fascia will cause multiple muscle groups to “stick” together and contract at the same time, causing an awkward and spastic like movement. This type of movement affects fine motor skills, as well as the load joints and muscle tissue, unnecessarily leading to increase wear and tear and injury.
How does your Fascia become dehydrated?
Fascial dehydration is more a result of insufficient water in the tissue itself due to any chronic posture, repetitive movement and lack of use rather than from not drinking enough water. However, not being well hydrated can have an effect, as this article explains.
Why are foam rolling and massage not always the best things to do to release your fascia?
Reshaping fascia uses a low force stimulus over a long duration. Massage will lengthen the fascia temporarily, but within a few days the fascia will return to it “original” state before the massage. The time spent on the tissue does motivate the change you need for a lasting effect. Massage does help with temporary relief but if you want to create lasting changes you need to find the patterns that are causing the dehydration and then rehydrate and reshape the fascial tissue.
Foam rolling also helps, but it is more of a direct technique which can cause pain and activate a stress response. This response naturally causes more tension. So you end up creating tension in one part of the body while you release others. For example: Tensing your entire body as you grimace through the pain of rolling out your ITB, defeats the purpose of releasing tension, doesn’t it!
What is the best thing you can do every day for your fascia tissue?
I Believe the best think you could do for your posture is working with any non-habitual movement without overworking the body. Doing anything, in any way that you don’t ordinarily do it, will help expose your fascia to different patterns, and prevent the dehydration in a particular shape.
Simply not overworking the body will also help keep it fluid and mobile. These exercises are a great start.
How can body balancing, breathing and small movements act as a myofascial release?
There are millions of moving parts and processes that keep us alive every day. A change in one part can have a knock on effect on the entire system. The self-correcting, regulating, and balancing system within the body is magnificent.
Body Balancing is an indirect approach, focusing on allowing the body to choose the best way to change. The system focuses on working with the natural principles (C.A.R.E) all living things need to function.
- Assimilation of nutrients
- Relaxation (parasympathetic function)
- Elimination of toxins and waste
The breathing, small movements and manual techniques are also designed to change the messages the nerves are sending and receiving, and work within the non-habitual patterns, and allow the fascia sufficient time to reshape itself based on the stimulus.
For example, on one level, breathing works on shifting from a stressed state (catabolic or breaking down) to a state of relaxation (anabolic or building up). The relaxation state lowers muscle tone and reduces tension.
The reduction in tension eases the pressure on the fascia net and makes it open to change.
The fascial net around your diaphragm (breathing muscle) and rib cage is often dehydrated and tight due to stress and bad posture.
By switching off the stress response and using the breathe to work in non-habitual you help rehydrate the fascia and keep your posture open, your body well oxygenated and your mind sharp, calm and ready for action.
Alon Davidow is the creator of the Body Balancing System, a system he created to help you get rid of chronic pain naturally. He has numerous qualifications including craniosacral therapy, nutritional counselling, breathwork, fascial release, reiki and personal training. He offers individual Body Balancing Sessions, releasing tension and giving you the tools to live a healthier life. For more information visit his website here or contact him at [email protected]
Zissy is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to make things, do things and wear things.