What is fascia and what does it do?
Fascia health has a huge impact on flexibility and range of motion. However, athletes often overlook the importance of fascia when trying to improve performance, because they don’t fully understand its purpose.
Fascia is connective tissue found throughout the body that is used to hold muscles together and keep them in their correct place. Additionally, fascia separates muscles from one another, allowing muscles to work independently and smoothly move past each other.
Fascial stretching is a growing trend in muscle recovery and athletic performance enhancement. Fascial stretching improves blood flow to tired muscles, which allows them to recover faster with less soreness.
Through facial stretching, athletes avoid fascial adhesions and damaged fibers. These injuries are known to restrict motion, cause pain, and poor movement in surrounding muscles.
How to build healthy fascia
Here are a few tips to keep fascia healthy and range of motion unrestricted:
- Take a few minutes in the morning to stretch out head to toe
- Move regularly – when the tissue is dormant or inactive fascia binds together hurting the flexibility
- Drink a lot of water
- Stretch your muscles – when your muscles are tight the surrounding fascia tightens along with them
- Stretch your fascia – to stretch your fascia hold gentle stretches for 3-5 minutes relaxing into a hold
Ideally an athlete’s fascia always remains fluid. However, many physical and mental factors can cause Velcro-like adhesions to form within the fascia “gluing” muscles together and restricting their ability to perform their individual functions often leading to injury.
Causes of weak fascia
Some examples of what can harm fascia include: poor posture, stress-induced muscle tension, remaining in one position for prolonged periods of time. The most common fascia issues are in the hip. This causes many people back, leg, glute and hip pain and movement restriction.
When your fascia is stuck and you want to employ fascia stretching and release the following are good tips to remember:
- Get a good warm-up before fascia stretching
- Increase your range of motion and regularly take your body through full-body functional movement patterns such as deep squats, push-ups and yoga
- To properly stretch the fascia your muscles must be relaxed
- Use a foam roller and/or a tennis ball – be gentle and slow in movements and when you find a place of tension hold the spot for 3-5 minutes
If these steps don’t help release your soreness, you may need to see a doctor. Mercy Health has caring, compassionate physicians who make it their priority to help you feel your best. Find a doctor near you today.