(Excerpted from Chapter 1, “Fascia, Organ of Embodiment,” Your Body Mandala)
If the news about the nature of fascia keeps growing and spreading as it has done in the last fifteen years, we may see the fitness industry making some changes. Isolation of muscle groups, repetitive joint actions, and training as hard as you can will begin to look very old school. This doesn’t mean that conventional exercises that target strength, coordination and flexibility have no merit, but rather that conditioning fascia requires an additional approach to training.
Fascia’s natural endowment is to bounce. When you look at a happy kid at play, you’re looking at healthy fascia. You see springiness, resilience. Another hallmark of healthy fascia is movement continuity and grace. You can feel this in yourself. On certain days or in some situations, your movement feels free and easy. But if, for example, you've had the flu and have been in bed for several days, you find that when you get up to move you are stiff. That’s the downside of fascia: immobility changes it chemically, making it thicken and harden. The less mobile you are, the more brick-like you become.
Similar to a sea sponge, fascia thrives when water pumps into and out of it. When you sit for long periods, when your gait is more plodding than energized, your fascia literally dries out. It stiffens along lines of use. That means that the more repetitive and restricted the choreography of your daily life, the more you reduce your capacity to adapt to unexpected movement demands like tripping over a curb or a cat.
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. That happens with chronically poor posture as well. You’ll experience ways to re-hydrate your fascia as you progress through the book.