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Ask the Expert: Find out more about Fascia

Ask the Expert - More about Fascia

Our Co-founder Moira Merrithew was interviewed by Pilates Style Magazine on the importance of fascia and what mind-body instructors need to know based on the recent findings. Here are some highlights from the Q & A. Read the full story here.

Q: What do I need to know about fascia to help my clients keep their bodies healthy and moving well?

A: Fascia is the body's connective tissue. Made mostly of collagen, it's a fibrous framework that connects muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments and blood, supporting and protecting major muscle groups and organs. It's essentially what holds us together - it's everywhere throughout our bodies.

When it's healthy, fascia is supple and flexible, enabling the body to move, twist and bend easily. But when it's unhealthy, it gets tight, clumpy and sticky, impeding mobility and causing pain and discomfort. In the movement arena, fascia is still a relatively new field of study - most of the data we have comes from the manual therapy world. Of that data, these three key findings are most relevant for fitness professionals looking to maximize the health and fitness of their clients.

1. Change things up. Fascial tissue is adaptive, so if you load it, it will adapt by getting stronger. However, if you reload it the same way over and over, it will only end up being strong for that particular movement. We all want a functional body that can adapt to the different movements we do every day, so make sure you add variety into your routines and programming.

2. Move more. A sedentary lifestyle is a major contributor to unhealthy fascia, so it's important to encourage your clients to move regularly throughout the day. Fibroblasts (the cells of the fascia) thrive in a mobile body, and remaining immobile for long periods causes these cells to die. Working out a few times a week isn't enough to keep them healthy - it's vital to keep the body active throughout the day, every day, even if it’s just doing a simple stretch after sitting for a long time.

3. Avoid repetitive patterns. Moving the same way over and over dehydrates the fascial tissue and creates an adhesive environment, so it's important to not overload any one area day after day. Like muscle, fascial tissue needs recovery time for collagen turnover. To build a stronger, more collagenous structure, clients need a good 48-hour rest between intense workouts.

When your fascia is healthy, you move better. Body symmetry and alignment are improved, blood flow is increased and your recover faster from exercise. Plus, there's a reduced risk of injury and less day-to-day pain. Incorporate fascial stretches and rolling into your routines, and encourage your clients to learn more about the benefits of fascial health.

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