Blog posts about: FASCIA
When there’s a problem in the knee, there are probably imbalances in the feet. My friend had no complaints about her feet, but when I watched her move I could see that, especially on the side of her knee surgery, she wasn’t using the full articulation of her foot.
I practice yoga to keep my fascia silky enough and my joints adaptable enough that my coordination can stay smooth even as the aging process diminishes my stamina. Yet, here I was, post yoga class, walking in this awkward way. I teach movement, for heaven’s sake. How had I slid into this familial pattern?
Tensegral body attitude, by expanding the space within the torso, grants more living room to your organs, beneficially affecting all visceral functions, including circulation, respiration, and digestion. And, because expansive visceral space contributes to high vagal tone, it can positively affect both health and social connectedness.
Your body is a floating compression structure—bones float within a tensile matrix of soft tissue. This is a very different model from the old idea that your body should be lined up like a stack of blocks.
Jumping off from the subtitle of The New Rules of Posture, I spoke about fascia, pandiculation, tensegrity, ergonomic chairs, spatial orientation, and manspreading. If you enjoy it, please share!
Unlike cats and dogs, humans tend to stifle this natural urge. In polite company such movement expression is considered rude.
I began to be curious about how that deep front line of the leg might affect or be affected by the deep line within my torso. What was my psoas muscle up to?
I don't think the earth feels equally solid to everyone, or even equally solid to anyone from one moment to the next. In this moment, I only seem to be relaxing. In fact I'm in a state of procrastination and my to-do list looms in the air about three feet away.
Healthy, hydrated fascia is an essential ingredient in enduring youthfulness and grace of movement. The stiffness we experience when we begin to age is a sign that fascial layers are dehydrated and are becoming adhered to one another.
Trash day offers me 61 opportunities to lengthen my anococcygeal ligament, one for every step.
For those of us who are rising, pink-hatted and furious, to the occasion(s), I caution against leaving our bones behind.
I also know that moving stiffly--ambulating with the bare minimum of joints engaged--becomes a habit that can’t entirely be blamed on my bodily tissues. Habits take place in the brain. The more often I move stiffly, the more familiar and less optional that way of moving becomes. I can choose how I move.
Fascial breathing is quite striking the first time you tune into it. It might even seem unnerving if you‘re not used to being so intimate with your aliveness. Fascial breathing makes it obvious that you’re alive in your body. This may touch your vulnerability, reminding you of your impermanence.
We can imagine this biblical hero raising his left leg first when he puts on his boots. The entire right side of his body is compressed, and this compression would have been reflected in his gait.
Current fascia research suggests that we’ve had it backwards for several millennia. This research indicates that bones, muscles, and organs--indeed, all other tissues in the body—may be, in fact, specializations within the unified medium of fascia. A primary constituent of embryonic development, fascia is the very clay of our creation. In other words, fascia is the stuff we’re made of.
We dipped into pelvic dance, the ancient feminine communion originally meant to prepare women for pregnancy and childbirth. We explored the possibility of dancing from our ovaries, from our cervices. If we could dance that way, could we not also walk that way? But where and when, in current culture, would that feel safe?
Contemporary living undervalues body awareness and overrides it most of the time. But could it be that listening to our interior body signals has an evolutionary advantage? If so, we undervalue this capacity to our detriment. We need to practice activating it.
If our hunter-gatherer forebears wore simple hide foot coverings or, depending on the weather, went barefoot, wouldn’t shoes that are barely there be good for us too?
Well, not necessarily, because “we’ve paved paradise and put in a parking lot.” We walk on flat, smooth, unyielding surfaces, whereas our forebears walked on grass, dirt, sand and gravel…
That may not be true for everyone, but for sure, foot problems stop you in your tracks. As a Rolfer® and movement coach, I’ve seen too many miserable feet and the problems they’ve transmitted to the bodies above. So I’m motivated to share anything I come across that might help my readers care for their own precious gravity negotiators. Feet, with their 26 bones and 33 joints and countless soft tissue springs and pulleys, are perfectly designed to negotiate uneven surfaces. When they don’t get to do that—when they’re constantly shod and subjected to flat, hard surfaces…
My intent for the workshop is to empower you through information and experiences to understand how your feet are meant to support and transport you. The content includes:
• demonstrations and explorations to FEEL how your feet should work
• relevant but simple anatomy to understand the complexity and magic of the foot
• the relationship between your feet and your body as a whole
• what it means to feel and receive support
• self-help exercises to improve faulty foot habits
I was lying in a backbend, supported by a chair. It had been beastly hot in Los Angeles, and Karin, my yoga teacher, had given our class a number of supported asanas to cool us down. But I was resisting: I had let my yoga practice lapse for a number of months and hadn’t been in that upside down position for a while. My throat felt taut. Trying to find the source of my discomfort, I zeroed in on my tongue. Sure enough, loosening it helped me settle into the posture. But Hyoglossal_musclewhy did my shoulders release so dramatically, just from softening my tongue? The image that came to mind was anatomical…
In my DVD, I speak several times about the importance of propelling the body forward with the back leg and foot, allowing toe-off to be complete. It’s common, in places where space is at a premium (e.g. crowded sidewalks, corridors between work cubicles, small kitchens) for us to pull ourselves forward with the leg that swings forward, rather than propelling our bodies forward from the back leg. When the body is drawn forward from the forward heel, the hamstring muscles don’t complete their potential for movement which is to extend the hip enough to take the leg behind the body. When the hip doesn’t fully extend, the hamstrings are robbed of the opportunity to let go during the swing phase of the walk. This is the scenario of perpetually tight hamstrings…
Posted below is Pack Matthews’ TEDx talk. He talks about the health offascia, the “sitting is the new smoking” research, and the research linking longevity to one’s ability to sit and rise from the floor without using hands or knees–and gives a great demo of this! Pack is the inventor of the Soul Seat™, a great option for people whose work requires that they sit all day. The design invites you to squirm and stretch while you sit. I’m putting one on my next letter to Santa!
Here’s an amazingly well-produced television story about the latest research on fascia. Robert Schleip is in it and Rolfing is well represented. The graphics are incredible–you really get a sense of the fascia living inside you and a sense of awe for its role in your life. The video is in German, but the subtitles are clear…
In previous posts, I’ve written about re-framing our fitness regimes to target fascial conditioning. I haven’t meant to imply that stretching, strength-building or cardio approaches to fitness are not worthwhile, but rather to emphasize that the type of movement that specifically restores dehydrated tendon and other tight regions of fascia requires a specific approach. Fascia needs to stretch and rebound—to bounce; that’s what keeps it juicy and healthy…
Here's the podcast conversation I had with Dr. Perry Nickelson of stopchasingpain.com. What a congenial host and interviewer! I really enjoyed speaking with him and felt free to go off on tangents, which seems to be my way of attempting to paint the whole picture…
You may have gathered that I like Pilates, yoga and dancing for my personal fitness and posture maintenance. But here’s the thing–both yoga and Pilates train muscle tone and muscle flexibility, but don’t directly address the fascial system. Scientists have only recently become interested in fascia, so there’s much learn about keeping this pervasive part of our bodies healthy and resilient enough to last a lifetime…
The idea for this post came to me while I was dancing. It also grew out of a conversation I’d had a few hours earlier with one of my spiritual mentors, Dunya, about a workshop given by Robert Schleip that I had recently attended. Robert is one of the foremost researchers on the nature of fascia…