I had the most wonderful vacation a few weeks ago.
We drove up to Mendocino to get my ocean fix and, once we added in the stops for wine tasting and rock shopping, the drive was an all day affair.
We played golf the next day, or at least I attempted to play but the extended car time the day before set me up for a rough day on the course!
When the body is static for prolonged periods of time (road trips, desk jobs, coach potatoes) the fascia, or connective tissue that lines most interior surfaces of the body, becomes stiff which restricts fluid dynamic movement.
As I struggled with my golf game, I was reminded of this photo of the fascia along the back of the body. My lower back and hips were tight from sitting in the car, and that tension was transmitted via fascia to the shoulders as well as other parts of the body.
The tension created by fascia is part of what holds the body together and allows us to do some of the crazy physical antics that human beings are so drawn to either doing or watching, such as gymnastics and platform diving, for example. When fascia is supple and happy, the body is capable of amazing things; when it’s stiff and bound up, just walking up the fairway is a chore.
My clients look at me strangely when I tell them that, in order to address their knee pain (or neck pain) we’re going to stretch and strengthen the muscles of the hips. In spite of the raised eyebrows, I ask them to trust me which they usually do, if somewhat skeptically.
Often, once stability (strength plus flexibility equals stability) has been created in the hips, the pain and tension in other locations of the body subside and, if you consider the lines of fascia and its function, this makes perfect sense.
Tom Meyers is the force behind the movement to treat fascia as a critical component in maintaining a healthy, mobile body.
His website, Anatomy Trains offers a tremendous amount of information and education on the ways the body is held together through the tension of fascia pulling on and communicating with other tissues of the body. Tom and his colleagues refer to this as ‘transegrity’, which has changed the way many professionals approach physical exercise, movement and rehabilitation.
The discoveries that Tom shares on his website and in his book Anatomy Trains strongly influence my toward working with approach the human body. As clients share their physical limitations with me, I always look at either the joints above or below where the pain or restrictions are occurring.
And for those who are curious, I shot 91 that day. Not bad, all things considered, and my golf partner got a hole in one! So the whole adventure was very successful in spite of tight hips and stiff fascia.
Illustration: Anatomy Trains, Second Edition, 2009, Thomas W. Myers, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, ISBN 978-0-443-10283-7