A few months ago, I was discussing with a friend the differences in my workouts since my injury. I admitted my routine used to consist of “slamming weights” 5 days a week, maybe three cardio sessions, and occasional stretching. I rarely considered the pain or tightness; just pushing through the workout to get the rush. Now, not so much.
He said two words: Your fascia.
And kindly enough, he tried to explain, but still needed to do research when I got home. Here’s what I found:
WHAT IS FASCIA: Fascia is the connective tissue that holds your ENTIRE body together! It is a system of densely packed collagen fibers and gel-like webs that connect all of your muscles, bones, tendons, and organs. Fascia connects through the whole body, wrapping around the individual parts to keep them stable and separate while you move.
HOW DOES FASCIA WORK: Fascia plays a massive part in movement, injuries, and recovery. A healthy fascia system is flexible and adaptable, making it easy to twist and bend without pain. An unhealthy fascia is tight, sticky, and thick, causing restrictions, distortions, and even injury. (Hello!)
WHY SHOULD I CARE: The fascia encloses, separates, and stabilizes our muscles and organs, connects them with nerves and blood vessels, and dictates our movement. Movement (muscle potential) is directly related to the quality of fascia (connective tissue). If the connective tissue is tight, the associated tissues will suffer tension and further hardening of the fascia. Think of it like this:
- Tight Fascia: Limited mobility and malnourished muscles (Like trying to twerk while wearings Spanx and a corset)
- Healthy Fascia: Fluid movement and healthy organs (Like wearing a sundress and sharing a dance)
Keeping the fascia healthy is relatively easy; it just requires consistency. Doing simple things like drinking more water and adding 10 minutes of stretching to your day will help lessen the creeks and cracks when you stand. It is also important to remember to incorporate stability and mobility training into your exercise routine. Yoga, Pilates, Thai Chi are all great for tapping into your core and enhancing stabilization. If you want to indulge a little, I suggest a great massage or even a few minutes of cryotherapy.
Of course, the best thing you could do for your fascia, watch what you eat. Diet plays the most significant part in keeping your body working for you.