Breaking Muscle

A Fascia Primer for Athletes

  Loose Connective Tissue

Since fascia is such a hot topic right now, and, er, I have a site with this tissue system in its title, I wrote a "Fascia 101" of sorts for athletes in my monthly column on Breaking MuscleBut since it is also just plain old a fascia primer for anyone, you might want to check it out. If you're curious about why fascia is getting so much attention these days, and how it relates to living well (pain free!) in your body, you can give it a read. Here is the beginning of the article:

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You may be noticing the word “fascia” (aka connective tissue) is a hot topic right now in all body related fields. But before we get to why fascia matters to athletes, here is a brief primer about why it’s getting so much attention these days.

First, many think of fascia as a glorified body stocking - a seamless piece of tissue that Saran wraps you just underneath the skin. While this is true of the superficial fascia, it’s important to understand it is a richly multi-dimensional tissue that forms your internal soft tissue architecture.

From the superficial (“body stocking”) fascia, it dives deep and forms the pods (called fascicles) that actually create your musculature like a honeycomb from the inside out. Imagine what it looks like when you bite into a wedge of orange and then look at those individually wrapped pods of juice. We’re like that too! Fascia also connects muscle to bone (tendons are considered a part of the fascial system), and bone to bone (ligaments are also considered a part of the fascial system), slings your organ structures, cushions your vertebrae (yep, your discs are considered a part of this system, too), and wraps your bones.

So imagine for a moment you could remove every part of you that is not fascia. You would have a perfect 3D model of exactly what you look like. Not just in recognizable ways like your posture or facial features, but also the position of your liver, and the zig-zig your clavicle takes from that break you had as a kid, and how your colon wraps. To say it’s everywhere is far from over-stating things.

In fact, it turns out fascia’s everywhere-ness is one of the reasons it was overlooked for so long. Until recently it was viewed as the packing peanuts of soft tissue. Therefore, in dissections for study and for research, most of it was cleanly scraped away and thrown in a bucket so the cadavers could be tidily made to resemble the anatomical texts from which people were studying. Poor, misunderstood, and underrated fascia. Sigh.

Fortunately research is catching up to what turns out to be a remarkably communicative sensory and proprioceptive tissue. What fascia researchers are discovering is pretty amazing not just for fascia nerds like me, but for anyone who wants to put their body to good, healthy use. (Like, for example, all of us at Breaking Muscle!) So without further ado, here is some of the newly emerging information about fascia and how you can use it to maximize not just your athletic performance, but also just your plain old ability to feel good in your body.

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And you can read the rest of the juicy (pun intended) information if you head on over to Breaking Muscle!

The Ubiquitous Keyboard and How It's Setting You Up for a Shoulder Injury

This is a new article of mine that came out on Breaking Muscle today on how the things we do when we're not training, specifically the things that involve screens and keyboards, set us up for shoulder injuries. Here's an outtake of the article, but if you want to read the whole thing and view the 2 corrective videos I made to address the issue, you can do that here. 

keyboard typing

"We are how we move. Our soft tissue is always responding to the demands we put on it, willingly complying by creating tissue patterning that makes it easier for us to do what we do more, well, more. This means our tissue is staying hydrated and gliding where we keep moving, and gluing us up in the ranges that we avoid.

Fascia (your connective tissue) can be your friend when it is adapting to support you in healthy ways, and it can be not so friendly when it starts to put the blinders on and gum up the works. It’s a basic use it or lose it set up. This is excellent news when what we’re doing with our bodies is perfecting the form of our deadlift. As we get more sophisticated in our movement, our tissue patterning allows for and adapts to this sophistication. However, this is not such great news when it comes to the sheer quantity of time we spend doing other less than helpful things.

Enter the ubiquitous keyboard. Whether it’s on a desktop, a laptop, or your phone, the odds are if you are reading this article you log more hours as a typing slave than you would like. Hey, look! I’m doing it right now! And while I love the fact that my keyboard means we all get to have this nice chat here at Breaking Muscle, it costs me. Specifically, it contributes to the plague of internal rotation that we are all living with these days. YOU CAN READ THE REST AND WATCH THE 2 CORRECTIVE VIDEOS ON BREAKING MUSCLE

 

DIY Friday: Combating T Rex Arms Part 2

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*Do it yourself! Every Friday we do a roundup of great posts, videos, or other resources around a theme that help people to turn their bodies from cranky to happy.*

3194747923_59c6c04f98_zHowdy! On last week's round up we began to look at some therapy ball help for those wound up, bound up forearms and the elbow tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome that so often come along with them. This week we're looking at the same thing but from a movement perspective. Both are fab ways to tackle the issue and I like them (therapy balls and movement) best as a combo platter.

Note: as Sue Hitzmann remarked in her video on last week's DIY Friday, sometimes stretching carpal tunnel syndrome can just agitate things. So if your nerves are currently all gummed up and inflamed, you may want to start with therapy balls and progress to these movements from there. Or give the movements a shot and see how you do with them, but listen to your body!

First here's a little mini Yoga Tune Up® video that I made for you of the fantastic shoulder and arm unraveller, Dancing with Myself (ha ha now you have the song stuck in your head!):

   

Secondly, here's Willow Ryan on Breaking Muscle going over some great stretching and strengthening movements:

Now you and your computer can be better friends!

Photo by Reva G