Healthy Fascia - Part II
I just love being the one hundredth person to suggest yoga to you, but here it is: look up some online flows or classes. Stretching helps elongate and release tension in muscles. This is a key component of healthy fascia. My whole family enjoys ROMWOD (Range of Motion Workout of the Day). A subscription program that you can download and do at home in front of the computer or TV. Romwod.com, the program is less than $15 per month and consists of workouts (yoga type stretching) that take 15-20 minutes.
If a massage isn’t an option, think self-myofascial release. This is also faster and easier than emotionally manipulating your significant other into some body work.
Self-myofascial release - Self-myofascial release is basically a self-administered massage. As we go through some techniques, keep this in mind - research has found that fascia tissue can withstand 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch! This means that working on the fascia can be uncomfortable at times but remember to relax and let the tissue release. The lacrosse ball – For under $5 you can purchase the ultimate torture tool. Rolling on the lacrosse ball is a great way to release tight fascia. Try sitting on the counter top and sticking a lacrosse ball under your hamstrings, moving the ball to find the, “ohh, it hurts so good” areas. Really tough people can even roll on the ground on top of the ball releasing tension in their erectors, upper back, IT bands and lats. On the ground, you can place the ball under a calf (place one leg over the other to add extra pressure). You can also roll out your shoulders and back against a wall. Tools of the Trade - I won’t expound on all the tools out there, but here are a few self-myofascial release tools – foam rollers, the Hypervolt™ and Theragun™ (think jig saw power tool with fascia pulverizing attachment), Rumble Roller™, Trigger Point™, and the Runner’s Stick™. There are also tools for sale so you can practice the Graston Technique™ on yourself. These tools look like a really thick, very dull knife and are used with emulsion (The Sarco Freeze works well for this) to repetitively rub over acute areas of discomfort. There is also the Insta-famous Fascia Blaster™ which is a pretty nifty tool that is designed specifically for cellulite. Inconsistencies in the fascia tissue can change the way your skin looks. According to Ashley Black, the creator of the Fascia Blaster™, "Fascia adhesions can pull the skin down and force the fat up, causing dents and dimples commonly known as cellulite” When working on fascia release, either self-myofascial release or by a professional, using a good full spectrum hemp extraction high in CBD can speed up the process. Cannabinoids will interact with the sensory receptors dampening the pain signals sent to the brain. This is very important because working on the fascia can be uncomfortable! Furthermore, many different CBD products have been paired up with active ingredients that will help the cause. Menthol increases blood flow, arnica helps with inflammation, essential oils like roman chamomile will help sooth muscles and help with muscle spasms.
If you have access to a sauna, heat helps the fascia relax and elongate. But apart from just taking care of the fascia, the sauna can help in a slew of different ways. Studies have found that the sauna can help mitigate delayed on set muscle soreness ("DOMS") post workout. Furthermore, saunas increase circulation and induce the release of endorphins. The near infrared type sauna has also been shown to induce apoptosis (the killing of weak cells- this is good for mitochondrial support). There are also studies circulating which claim the near infrared sauna increases the release of human growth hormone (HGH). Saunas are also a great way to detox.
Cryotherapy & Ice
Conversely, cryotherapy, or simply using ice to reduce inflammation can also help maintain healthy fascia. Cryotherapy is pretty neat stuff! In a cryotank, temperatures can drop colder than -200 degrees Fahrenheit. This is another great way to help induce apoptosis and decrease full body inflammation in one shot. -200 degrees Fahrenheit may sound scary, but I would take cryotherapy over an ice bath any day of the week!
Pumping iron properly is a great way to keep your muscles long and full, which is great for the fascia. Notice the word "properly;" not using full range of motion or improperly using weights can be harmful. If you don’t know how to lift properly, hook up with a trainer or join your local CrossFit box. Do some research on a trainer or a functional fitness type gym, because a bad trainer or coach can/will injure you.
Aerobic exercise is a great way to warm up your body, like the sauna, however from the inside out. Heating up the fascia will keep it pliable; just remember to warm up and cool down properly. The benefits of cardio are numerous and most of them are common knowledge these days….so swim, bike, run, METCON, row, step, pick up some b-ball, just make sure you’re getting it in.
In Conclusion Maintaining healthy fascia is like flossing - it must be routine and done consistently and generously. The good news is, all the things that will help your fascia will also help your overall health. If you are a person that is chronically stiff, inflexible, or injured it might be time to see a physical therapist. Hopefully some of these tips on maintaining healthy fascia helped!
And as always…
Stay healthy, my friends!