Fascia is in fashion in the movement and massage industries right now. Growing scientific research is deepening our understanding of how it affects our movement training for athletes and rehabilitation.
What is fascia?
Fascia is a web around the body that covers all muscles, bones, connective tissue and organs. It is an important connective tissue for our entire body and plays an important role in our full body healing and wellbeing. It is an uninterrupted three-dimensional web of your entire physical body – a cadaver of fascia looks just like you!
The composition of fascia is gelatinous made of collagen and elastin fibres, which provides it with deep strength and high resilience. At the superficial layer it is involved in scar tissue healing and at the deeper layers fascia plays a healing and defence role against pathogens.
“The plasticity and pliability of our fascia is related to the quantity and quality of collagen and elastin fibers, the consistency of the ground substance and the hydration of the tissue. Many factors influence this, like our diet, our posture and movement habits and the level of mechanical stress and mental/emotional stress in our lives.” ~ Healing Arts
How does this affect our physical structure? Fascia is resilient and responds across the entire body in all dimensions. From a biomechanical perspective fascia responds with ‘Tensegrity” (tension + integrity), a highly efficient structure.
Fascia can be hydrated through movement. Flowing movements can hydrate the fascia that create more ease in movement around the entire body.
As fascia is a web of the entire body, where you move in one part may impact another aspect of the body. An injury or illness could be resolved at other layers of connective tissue in the body, but not the fascia. If the fascia is unhealthy then we will still feel tension in our body – this could be expressed physically or emotionally. Pain is a sure sign of unhappy fascia.
Healthy fascia creates a feeling of spaciousness in the body that is pliable and responsive to all around us. This can impact high intensity sport performance or collecting your bag of the baggage claim at the airport. To release fascia removes toxin build up, promotes healing (including recovery time from training) and a more efficient body for movement in life.
Most fascia release has been through massage like a myofascial massage therapist or learn how to use a prop to find this release on yourself, e.g. foam rollers for the IT band (a bundle of fascia on the side of the thigh), but this mostly aggravates the tension. Perhaps a restorative yoga class will begin to open and release some of the fascia, but it
Through movement we must move slowly with flow. When we slow our movements and feel a consistent flow, there is a deep connection to the web and its sensations. This opens a way to train ourselves at a deeper level in movement – functional and fitness
What happens on retreat?
I developed the mini-stability technique from her integrated training of Pilates, fascia, yoga, Raynor Massage and meditation. A simple class is designed to empower clients on retreat to learn how to manage this on themselves when they leave the retreat.
I use this daily as my ‘check-in’ with my body, mind and emotions. It informs me as to how strong I feel, how fluid and spacious my mind is, whether I can let go or am holding on tight to something – perhaps I have a workout, or it turns into a meditation, other times I roll and tears roll with my body. I never know what will unfold, but I know that this release technique has hugely supported my own healing and ongoing development.
You will use techniques to (a) body scan for sensations, (b) deep release breathing, and (c) visualisations, to deepen your body-mind connection to determine your movements and what to release in your body.
This powerful session releases as far as you are willing to breathe into and experience. When you have discovered how to release then you rebuild movement habits within the boundary of effortless ease, softness, fluidity and space.
Check out this short video clip of a class on retreat as I talk about how it has been developed.