If not for everyone, then most people want to have a healthy, beautiful and strong body that makes it easy and effortless to move and live. But even the most active and athletic of us sometimes lacks the flexibility and the feeling of lightness that appears after a good workout or yoga class, but for some reason they quickly disappear. One of the reasons may be our inattention to a very important, but so far little studied part of the body – the fascia. In this article on CLEARlife we will tell you what it is, why it is important to train it, and how to do it most effectively.
What is fascia?
Fascia is a type of connective tissue that envelops nerves, blood vessels, ligaments, organs and muscles and forms a kind of soft frame for all these systems in our body. It mainly consists of collagen and elastic fibers, interwoven in different directions and forming dense networks . This tissue has many functions: it fixes organs and muscles, keeping them in their places, and separates them into zones, envelops the entire body under the skin and determines its shape, protects nerve endings, participates in water-salt metabolism. Fascia combines everything inside into a single system , serving not only as the basis of a person’s physical form, but also transmitting nerve impulses, for example, from muscles to bones and from one area of the body to another.
One of the first people who spoke back in the 1940s about the important role of fascia was the famous Russian surgeon and anatomist Nikolai Pirogov, whose name is used to name many hospitals and medical centers in Russia. In his atlas, “Surgical Anatomy of Arterial Trunks and Fascias,” he published more than 500 illustrations with a detailed description of the structure of fascial cases and nets. However, for a very long time this internal system remained little known in non-medical circles, and only in the last few years they have been talking about it as a part of a healthy and beautiful body that needs attention.
We at How to Green became interested in this topic and decided to study in more detail how exactly fascial tissue affects our appearance and health.
Fascia and shape of our body
One of the most famous modern fascia researchers is American chiropractor Thomas Myers . He is the author of several books on the structure, functions and role of this tissue, as well as the author of techniques for strengthening and healing it. Myers was one of the first to talk about the fact that to a greater extent fascia , and not muscles, determines the shape of the body and its individual parts. Of course, the muscles provide filling and volume, but how this or that zone looks exactly depends on the intercellular or fascial matrix.
It was Myers who coined the term “tensegrity”, which refers to the tone of fascial tissues even at rest. This tone determines our forms, supports organs, muscles and ligaments and determines how we look and feel in different positions.
Another important function of the fascia is trophic. Fascial fibers are directly involved in many metabolic processes of the body and partly determine the amount of fluid that is retained in the tissues. This means that by strengthening and stretching the fascia, you can not only give more attractive forms to your body, but also significantly reduce the manifestation of cellulite and general swelling.
According to the same principles, the fascia is arranged under the skin of the face: its shape, youth and fit largely depend on the condition of the connective tissue inside. It is known that one of the reasons for the loss of skin elasticity is a violation of blood circulation and lymph flow, and this happens also when the fascial matrix is not sufficiently “trained” and loses its mobility. Interestingly, the fascia on the body and the fascia on the face are essentially the same: working on one part, for example, on the back, you inadvertently have a positive effect on the neck, skull and face.
Fascia and general health
In addition to the aesthetic side, which is certainly important, it is worth remembering that a healthy fascia is necessary for a good state of the body, in particular internal organs, ligaments, joints, tendons, blood vessels. When the fibers are mobile and elastic, they actively participate in internal metabolism and uninterruptedly nourish the tissues with the necessary trace elements. When the connective tissue is trained, its different parts can work in concert and, if necessary, compensate for too much tension in one zone, evenly distributing the load on the whole body. This helps us to avoid injuries during training and daily activities and to recover much faster if injuries were nevertheless received.
A less obvious, but no less important relationship also exists between fascia and our emotions. For example, when we doubt, feel sad, feel disappointed, we tend to lower our shoulders, round our back, and stoop. If this happens often enough, the tissues of the back, neck and shoulder area (including the fascia) get used to this situation and it becomes natural over time. And of course, there is a connection between the body and posture with emotions and even character: by stooping, a person, as it were, is trying to become “less”, to hide. With shoulders and head bowed, it is more difficult to feel confident and experience joy. Regularly in this state, you risk becoming a sad person who finds it difficult to see the good. Based on this theory, you can start changing emotions with the body, relearning the ligaments and fascia to keep you straight and confident in life.
What is the best way to train the fascia? There are several basic ways and techniques that will help you work through its tissues efficiently.
Basic principles of fascia training
Since the fascia is an elastic, but sufficiently dense structure, it needs effort, time and amplitude to take a new, necessary shape, and then recover and form new fibers. Therefore, when training and stretching , try to reach your maximum and slightly go beyond it. In this case, you should not feel pain, but a pleasant tension and tension. It is very important to do everything slowly and gradually, so that the collagen and elastic fibers have time to stretch. Multiple repetitions of the correct movements and a long stay in one or another pose work effectively . Yin yoga is one of the best types of movement for the study and healing of fascia.
Another way to train your fascia is with foam rolling, or with a massage cylinder . This is a fitness area in which you massage your body with the help of a special long cylinder, every year it becomes more and more popular. The essence of the technique is that you lie down or sit on this cylinder, begin to make the recommended movements and, due to the weight of your body, work out its various parts deeply. The first time, most likely, it will be uncomfortable, and possibly painful, since the untrained fascia is in tension and does not know how to relax, but each time the tissues will begin to open easier and faster, the pain will go away, and you will begin to feel much more freedom in body.
Speaking about fascia health, it is impossible not to touch on the topic of nutrition, which can both support and load your tissues and overall health. It is important to maintain a neutral alkaline balance in the body due to the large number of fresh vegetables, fruits and greens, remove foods that cause inflammation , consume the amount of protein you need – the main building material of all cells and tissues. Since fascial fibers are largely composed of collagen, with high physical exertion, an additional portion of this form of protein will be very useful.
Obviously, our body is an amazing, harmonious system that humanity has yet to study and study. We hope that this information about the fascia will help you better understand and feel yourself and, possibly, try new types of movement and training aimed at strengthening this almost invisible, soft foundation of your body and health.