Did you know that you when you admire the youthful grace and spring in someone’s step you are witnessing their myofas- cial connectivity? A youthful body is a resilient body and this resilience resides in our fascia.
This connective tissue was once discarded by anatomists as irrel- evant material that got in the way of observing muscles and organs. Science, however, is rapidly exposing the critical role fascia plays in optimum human performance. These discoveries have created a trickle- down effect that started in the lab and has now filtered into the fitness arena, influencing how trainers deliver exercises to their clients.
The fascial system is a multi-layered, fibrous webbing that begins below our skin, binds multiple chains of muscles together, and encap- sulates all of our organs, energizing and connecting all of our tissues. It translates muscle contraction into coordinated, efficient movements with the least amount of wear and tear on the joints. Fascia is a highly intelligent inner communication system that is more innervated than the muscular system. When functioning optimally, it is so responsive to its environment that it operates without our conscious control.
Whether active or static (walking, running, biking or merely hunched over a computer) we live in a world where the forward motion dominates. Over time, repetitive forward motion remodels connec- tive tissue, restricting 3-dimensional actions and making movements uncoordinated and joints susceptible to increased wear and tear. This “forward living” may cause connective tissue to dehydrate, stiffen and lose its resiliency. The proprioceptor sensitivity—awareness of how our body is positioned in space—that comes from the fascia then becomes less responsive, compromising the spontaneous, fluid, 3-dimensional motion that defines a balanced, youthful body.
The exercises below have been inspired by the myofascial meridian lines so beautifully defined and illustrated by Thomas Myers and Gil Hedley who mapped the connective tissue matrix to enhance therapeu- tic hands-on practice. Additional influences came from Sue Hitzmann and Michol Dalcourt, each with one foot in the rehab world and the other in the fitness world.