What is Fascia?


Post Highlight: Fascial Training Improves Power and Speed

Fascia is connective tissue that is most often described as plastic wrap for your muscles. Fascia supports muscle contraction and stabilization. It covers and connects everything in the body. Did you know that it does this in just one sheath? That’s right; your plantar fascia, fascia covering your biceps, and even fascia covering your brain are all part of the same sheath with no interruptions.

For that reason, the body can never work in isolation. Whenever you pull or shorten fascia in one area, you affect it in another area; this is known as spiraling fascia. Cutting-edge coaches are training elite-level sprinters to twist their wrist in certain motions (supination and pronation) to influence the fascia at their hips. That’s right; a flick of the wrist really can make a difference in a sprinter’s career, at least for Tyson Gay when he beat Usain Bolt after training using spiraling for his fascia. Do I have your attention now?

So how does it all work? Fascia has ten times more sensory neurons than muscle, meaning there needs to be some focus on fascial training as well as neuromusculoskeletal training. This can be achieved by performing counter-movements (small quick movements in the opposite direction of the desired motion) prior to the primary action of the muscle. Reason being, fascia has highly elastic properties; therefore, it responds well to stretching.

Fascia has many neurons and elastic properties; it also acts as a hybrid for muscles. Studies show that the stretch of the fascia aids in energy output when released, as the muscles isometrically and concentrically contract. Meaning, less energy needs to be used by your body because it is being applied by the fascia as stored and released elastic energy. What this means to you is when you train your fascia more efficiently, it will help reduce your energy needs, saving energy for later in your workout.

Thomas Myers in his Anatomy Trainssystem declares twelve “myofascial meridians” unifying sections of muscle through fascia. These myofascial lines are the planes which movement mainly occurs and are:

  1. The Superficial Front Line

  2. The Superficial Back Line

  3. The Lateral Line (Front & Back)

  4. Back Functional Line

  5. Front Functional Line

  6. Spiral Line

  7. Deep Front Line (Lower Anterior & Upper Posterior)

  8. Deep Front Line (Upper Middle & Upper Anterior)

  9. Deep Front Arm Line

  10. Superficial Front Arm Line

  11. Deep Back Arm Line

  12. Superficial Back Arm Line

Think of the lines as highways which movement moves more fluid and energy transfers throughout the body most efficiently. I would suggest reading Myer’s book to grasp the full concept. I am only mentioning myofascial lines to illustrate how the body operates holistically in one great sheath rather than in isolation by individual muscles.

Building upon that, keep variety in your workouts. Life never follows the same repetitive pattern, so why should practice? Remember to vary your reps, weight, rest, duration, frequency, and intensity on a regular basis. Fascia needs to adapt to a variety of pulls in numerous directions with varying intensities to function most efficiently. The best way to do that is to simply add variety.

Always improve,

Chris


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© 2020 by Christopher Johnson, Ed.D. No information on this site is to be taken as medical advice. Newton, Ma 02460