THE FASCIANATING WORLD OF OUR CONNECTIVE TISSUE
Your fascia is constantly remodeling you and it does so depending on the demands you put on it
The more I learn about fascia, the more fascinated I become. If you've been to my yin classes or myofascial release workshops, you've heard me talk about it extensively. Fascia and connective tissue are often used interchangeably. Fascia has got many roles; it connects and also contains things, it's akin a bag that holds things in place (like a sausage bag). This connective tissue wraps around muscles, organs, nerves and even blood vessels), it directs movement, responds to tensile forces (tensegrity) and it is connected to every system in the body.
When someone says " I have tight hamstrings", it is not only the hamstrings that are "tight/tense" but the whole superficial back line of the body which includes the plantar fascia, calves, hamstrings, glutes and the fascia alongside the spine, neck and head is restricted as a whole.
Fascia/ Connective tissue is a continuum, that's why they can be referred as "anatomy trains". Muscles are not isolated but are part of a web that follows a certain pathway. The best way to understand these are to have a look at the images under "Myofascial Lines Anatomy Trains" online (quite similar to the Chinese Medicine meridians)
I recently took a Body Reading course with the amazing Tom Myers, author of Anatomy Trains and I've been delving deeper in his teachings which help see body imbalances and methods to ease restrictions, limitations and most importantly, pain.
'll share some of what I've learnt with you in the following lines
When you take up an activity such as yoga, a sport, a job and even an attitude, it all remodels your fascia and the demands you put on the body.
Our posture is a representation of what we constantly do.
"Habit requires posture" as Tom says.
When most of the hours in our days are spent in a particular shape, the posture in the surrounding areas also have to adapt to the demands imposed by our habitual posture.
The cells in our bodies respond to tension, to stresses in the tissues and to being pulled on by creating more fibers and these fibers are organised along the lines of pull.
Often, when there's pain in the body, we may think that the area of pain is also where the root of the problem is, however, when it comes to fascia, the culprit of the pain is often somewhere other than where the pain is felt/experienced.
"Where you see a bow,
look for the bowstring and ease it."
The images above are not the best example of bow legs (ideally the feet would be a bit wider apart), but it can still provide a reference. In this case, the bow is on the outside of the legs, since the fascia on the inside/medial side of the legs (the bowstring) is so taught, the bones on the knees have adapted to this pull, causing compensations throughout the body.
What I've described is just an example and is not always the case. If someone has been born with a predisposed skeletal shape and there's no pain, then there's no problem.
Our Connective tissue/Fascia is constantly responding to the positions we find ourselves in and the movements we are doing.
When there's a balanced distribution of force on both sides of the legs (as the above image on the left) with a bowstring of equal lengths, there would be ease. On the other hand, in the case of the bow and bowstring (image on the right) the pull in the direction of the arrows responds to the force travelling through it by increasing the arch of the bow; causing imbalances, compensations and pain. It's not asymmetry what we are after, but balance.
When we look attentively to our bodies, we can notice imbalances using the analogy of the bow and bowstring, whether it's in our feet, seeing the body from the side, front, back, etc.
Finally, the image below shows "knock-knees" which would cause strain and pain on the inner knee (where the bow is) but the fascia which is pushing things out of place, is short and tight on the outer side of the legs.
Areas of pain are often the ones which lack space.
So, whenever you experience physical pains, look twice.
Find the bow and bowstring in your own body and free up the bowstring.
Easing the fascia along the line of the tight bowstring gives room for balance and it gives the bones a chance to return where they function most optimally.
Yin Yoga, myofascial release, and manual therapy work wonders to free up areas of tension
Yin yoga classes are a passive type of yoga where 99% of postures are done laying down or seated, it is suitable for all and no experience is needed.
It targets the fascia (myofascial lines/sinews/meridians) increasing circulation of blood, energy and information.
May you be free of bodily pains which will translate as freedom in other areas of your life <3