In It’s time to check out your backside, I addressed poor posturing due to imbalances between the front and back body. Our posturing is dependent upon many things such as activities of daily living, physical/emotional exhaustion, stress and/or how we learn to carry ourselves in the world from influences around us. Yes, this is one more thing for which you can blame your parents. BUT, “if you are going to blame them for all the things they did wrong, you are gonna to have to blame them for all the things they did RIGHT” –Tony Robbins, I Am Not Your Guru.
With that said, poor posturing can be related to childhood, adolescent and/or adult fears, stressors and traumas. Fear, stress and traumas activate the fight or flight response from the sympathetic nervous system. Our fight or flight response is designed to protect us from danger. It is an instinctive response in both animals and humans that contracts the upper body forward to protect the front body. All mammals, except humans, will extend out of this contraction when the threat is over. Humans, unfortunately, have the ability to stay contracted when the treat is over thus, remaining compressed and shortened in the front body which in turn weakens the back body. With chronic and/or repeated fear, stress or trauma, the stress response system stays activated encouraging contraction of the front body to become habitual.
Here’s the thing…Our fascia is constantly listening and responding to our nervous system. So, when we are in flight or fight and the body becomes contracted, our fascia disorganizes to accommodate for these changes.
THE MORE YOU KNOW…
Healthy fascia, like healthy happy cells, requires movement, whether you practice ELDOA, yoga, pilates, etc…. Healthy loading these practices induces remodeling of the fascial architecture. After longs periods of sedentary behavior (i.e., sitting all day) the fascial architecture becomes disorganized. It takes some time for the disorganized fascia to unravel and reorganize. There is no quick fix. If practiced healthfully, yoga and ELDOA are good for remodeling. It’s not like training for a marathon where once the marathon is over your training is technically done. Both ELDOA and yoga postures are long term daily practices; ELDOA works specially on the fascial lines. There is a caveat: if we don’t have the awareness to change our posturing, we are encouraging our bodies to stay tense and compressed in any practice including ELDOA and yoga postures.
Tom Myers, of Anatomy Trains, states, “yoga is the medicine of SPACE.” He also includes martial arts, osteopathy and soft tissue work in this “medicine of SPACE.” He defines the medicine of space as the make up of 3 systems: the nervous system, the fluid system, and the fibrous system.
The nervous system is our perception of time. It takes information in from the outside world and assimilates this information creating movements, reactions, behaviors, and memory. The nervous system is binary and logical ~ it is coded messages.
The fluid system is our organs and circulatory system. It is vascular, a fluid medium ~ it is our perception of matter; it is our emotional memory. Our fluid system responds to our emotions – i.e., when we flush with fear and blush with embarrassment. The fluid system balances the nervous system and the fibrous system.
The fibrous system is our fascia, (including ligaments and tendons), muscles, and bones ~ it is our perception of space, our belief system. This system balances tension and compression. It is how we choose the get into consciousness with yoga and ELDOA. Myers explains this as the “Consciousness Theory” because the fibrous system is our belief system, it is mechanical, handling tension and compression. Our belief systems are stored in our flesh, our fascia. It is not just the fibrous system that makes up consciousness, it is all 3 systems. He goes on to explain that all behaviors begin as an experiment. When our behaviors are repeated, they become gestures. When our gestures are repeated they become habits. Habits will create a structural compensation in our fascia from asymmetries in our posturing, driving, sports, etc… Not all habits are bad, there are good habits, it’s the bad habits that become ingrained in our fascia that cause illness, injury and pain that are not good.
Take a moment and ask yourself:
- How do you occupy space?
- Do you make yourself big and expansive or small and unseen?
- How did you progress as a baby to a toddler; from lying on your belly to crawling to walking to running?
- How do you move through space?
- Do you lead with your hips, your shoulders, or your head?
- Are you heavy walker or light of our feet?
- How do you interact with your environment?
- How do you walk up hills, stair, sidewalks etc…?
FASCIA IS OUR 6TH SENSE
Fascia responds to our nervous system as we move about in daily life. If you we move about life with unhealthy behaviors, gestures and habits the fascia can become dehydrated, disorganized and stuck. Tight fascia does not respond to strong pressure and responds less effectively to increase in pressure (i.e., the FasciaBlaster®, foam roller, and deep tissue massage). According to Tom Meyers and my teacher Dr. Guy Voyer, it’s all about HYDRATION, HYDRATION, HYDRATION. We need 1/2 to 3/4 of our body weight in water to keep our fascia hydrated.
Think of your fascia like a sponge. If were to put a heavy load, such as a casserole dish of lasagne on top of a sponge, the sponge will loose most of its water. You lift the casserole dish off the sponge, the sponge can then resorb the water. When you add a heavy load and demand, you dehydrate fascia. When you move with a spring in your step, you hydrate fascia. Healthy bouncy springy movements, including manual therapy with pumping, will rehydrate and reorganize fascia. Meyers explains “fascia can be trained for elasticity (storing and releasing energy). It can be trained for viscosity (hydration) and plasticity (ability to change shape).” Fascia will respond to the nervous system immediately, however reorganization will take time. Pain and injury can only resolve if the rewiring has occurred. This is where patience is a virtue and not giving up is essential. A daily home practice may be necessary for healing to occur.
IT’S TIME TO REORGANIZE
In order for fascial reorganizing to occur, engaging the long myofascial chains, (i.e., soma training) and whole body movements (i.e., ELDOA and yoga) is the best way to train the fascial system. Reorganization occurs with whole body movements placing healthy tension on the facial lines requiring one body part to move with another body part remains in a fixed position. Placing healthy tension on the fascial lines along with dynamic movements including bouncing and preparatory counter movements with maximum flexion and extension and primal movements will hydrate. Lightly rubbing and light surface tissue stimulation enhances fascial proprioception. Taking your attention away from the muscles to go deeper into the fascia (myofascial stretching) will allow the body to make more accurate and fully informed movements (Kinaesthesia acuity) preventing injury.
WHAT ABOUT STRENGTHENING?
Is it possible to strengthen the fascia? Well, not exactly, but strengthening the muscle will make fascia smarter allowing to act as a stabilizer. Remember, for the purpose of understanding movement and creating space, we are looking at the fascia and muscles as the same structure. Therefore, strengthening the muscles, improves fascias flexibility, mobility, stability, alignment, and proprioception.
MY PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
We have gone from the industrial revolution into the electronic revolution. Our bodies compensate to assimilate into each new era, you would think, like Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Except, Darwin’s Theory of Evolution suggests that all species of organisms arise and develop through natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual’s ability to compete, survive, and reproduce. If we really look at how are our bodies are changing as we move within the electronic revolution of sitting and texting, are we improving our ability to survive… NO!
What if it just took AWARENESS to change what is not serving us? What if we didn’t need western and eastern doctors and pharmaceuticals to “heal” us from aliments caused by activities of daily living. What if all we needed to do to heal was to educate ourselves on how our body functions within itself and in space.
Up next: chronic pain and the flight or fight response…
P.S. A special thank you to Gayle Simon for being my editor! 😉