Motion is Lotion - The Science behind our Fascia
In my last post, I discussed the importance of mobility during this time. As we are all likely more sedentary as this crisis unfolds, staying active is vital to ensure we're getting adequate blood flow. When we’re not moving, the blood flow in our body is limited, because the heart doesn’t pump as much. Muscles require the heart to pump, as that blood is delivered to our brain (influencing our mental clarity, focus, and stamina). If we're moving more, our concentration is sharpened!
Fascia is this large net that maps from the plantar fascia to the mobility of our necks. When our fascia is pliable and supple, our joints can move in a better range of motion. With healthier and hydrated fascia, our bodies don't feel as stiff or constricted. When we sit, especially for long periods of time, our fascia develops compensatory patterns. This repetition causes the connective tissue to endure repeated tension which ultimately can lead to global regional instability. If we're slumping and/or practicing distorted postural movement patterns, these movements cause excessive compression on these tissues, creating adaptation within our tissues.
All of this roots back to the health of our fascia. Aside from MOVING, when we're sitting for long periods of time, make a mental note to get up every hour or two, even if only for a few minutes! When we're seated, there are many exercises we can do for ourselves....especially targeting the shoulders, chest, neck, and hip flexors. I can't stress enough how important it is to prioritize the shoulders. Sitting creates a tremendous amount of stress and asymmetry within our shoulder blades. Shoulder rolls are simple yet effective in rolling that shoulder blade back, creating an external rotation and scapular retraction. Strength training can play an important role in your shoulder and spinal health as the muscles keep the bones in place. Focus on exercises that target the rhomboids, rotator cuff, and mid/lower traps. These muscles work in concert to stabilize the shoulder blade, creating that dynamic control as you move through the ROM.
Getting these muscles to relax centers on three different principles: tissue compliance, movement control, and tissue capacity. Tissue compliance is whether or not the muscle is objectively experiencing a shortening of the muscle. Movement control focuses on the big picture, including changes in your proprioception and neural tension. Tissue capacity is the amount of load your muscle is able to tolerate comfortably (how strong is your muscle). By actual strengthening the muscles, our tissues adapt (but in a healthy, optimal way). This type of strength training can be done for 20 minutes 3-4 times a week for results. As you get more comfortable and adaptive, that's the time to increase your load/weight. By incorporating a blend of stretching and strength training, you'll find your muscles will both relax and lengthen over time.