|Posted on June 21, 2016 at 10:25 PM|
Fascia — the body's connective tissue that wraps around muscle — can be trained, just like muscle.
Like muscle, fascia can be stretched or trained to be made stronger. This makes sense when considering the function of fascia: to transfer stress to the skeletal system. When we lift something heavy, in many cases we use more than a single muscle group. It's the job of the fascia, or connective tissue, to redistribute the force onto the skeletal system. Fascia allows us to use our whole body, while at the same time saving us from injury. By making our fascia stronger, we can lift more weight and lift for longer durations.
One of the ways we manipulate fascia is by using the foam rollers to relieve tension in our muscles. However, stretching and relieving tension is not the same as strength-training.
I use three different techniques to train fascia.
- Old School Kung Fu Method: extend our joints and make forceful circles around our joints. These movements are used in Wing Chun, Tai Chi and Ba Gua, for example. While executing these rotations, you will hear cracking and popping. This is normal. This is the sound of the fascia stretching.
- Centifugal force: keep relaxed as possible, lift your arms overhead and let them drop naturally. As your arms fall, drop your body weight and relax. The speed of the drop is enough force to create a sudden lengthening of the fascia. With practice, this will make fascia stronger and more supple. Use this same technique at varying angles: take your arms and throw them to the side or behind you. The key is to stay relaxed. Do not use too much force, or your joints could hyper-extend and become injured.
- Use weights: grab a light barbell (or two dumbbells) and execute a hip hinge, ending at the back, but making sure the core is engaged) Then, totally relax the body and let the weight add tension to the fascia. If you do it correctly, you should feel a bit of stress on your joints — and not your muscles.
When you train hard, remember to train the fascia to become stronger and lower your risk of injury. Also when stretching, foam roll first. This will create less resistance around the muscle allowing for a bit more stretch