How do you nurture your fascia?

1. November 2017

What are fascias?

To put it precisely, there is no such thing as fascias in the plural form, but rather only THE FASCIA. Fascia refers to the fibrous and collagenous connective tissue structure which runs through our body. This intricate network consists not only of muscle coverings, but also includes tendons, ligaments, and joint and organ capsules. The fascia thus envelopes every muscle and organ, working as an indivisible unit and holding the body together, thereby granting it stability and flexibility at once. 

Why is the fascia so trendy now?

This connective tissue has been known for a long time, but 30 years ago it was categorised into the less appealing-sounding domain of connective tissue research. “Fascia research” makes for a far more thrilling and mysterious impression. Modern findings, however, are not new, but rather were lost throughout time and are now subject to increasing scrutiny, not least because industry is able to sell new products through fascia training and fascia accessories.

What findings are new?

Experts were familiar with the importance of this network before, but they were unaware of how it worked. Even today, this has yet to be fully resolved, but modern measuring methods have enabled new findings to be achieved. It is now known that the mechanics of the locomotor system are influenced by the networking of the fascia across many more joints than previously thought. A further detail of interest is that on-going tension stems not just from muscular problems, but may also involve the fascia.

When does the fascia work best?

The fascia requires diverse movements in as many planes of movement as possible and in all directions. Otherwise, there is risk that the individual layers which make up the fascia may stick together and thus lose elasticity and their ability to move. The greater the diversity of movement, the more flexibly the fascia works. And the more monotone movement is carried out on a day-to-day basis, the greater the risk that the fascia can no longer smoothly fulfil its complex function. The lack of movement epidemic to our modern lifestyles has most certainly also led to increased adverse health effects that can be traced back to a deficiency in fascia function. 

What types of sports “nurture” the fascia?

Gymnastics, running, throwing, jumping, playing – complex sequences of movement that play out, as mentioned, in many planes of movement. Everything people used to do (and still do) in gymnastics clubs, except that nowadays a lot less people are in gymnastics clubs any more. Endurance athletes have more routine training, as they are conditioned to perform monotonous, even sequences of movement for hours on end. That in itself wouldn’t pose a problem, as endurance sports have many positive and very desirable effects. Nonetheless, endurance sports should be supplemented with other types of sport, because if you do not consistently face new movement tasks, you have a lack of variety. Everyone should ask themselves: When was the last time I did a somersault, jumping jack, or pull-up? When did I last swing across rings or dive from the 1-metre-high diving board? If you’re in need of new ideas, you can head to a playground and see what all the children are up to. Children constantly discover new things while playing. It wouldn’t cross their minds to run around in a circle for 30 minutes. 

What fascia training is on offer in fitness studios?

The fitness industry must be given credit for having acknowledged how many people lack variety in their movements. It has therefore not simply sought to constantly propose new forms of movement, but has also composed holistic training forms such as functional fitness, CrossFit, or boot camps. The content of such forms of training is not new, but given the rampant expansion of technology use in our day-to-day lives these offers most certainly have their justification. This way, less habitual movement patterns are practised and frequently neglected muscle groups stimulated. 


Can fascia training also be performed at home?

Of course, anyone can carry out a varied exercise programme at home if they tackle the issue a bit. Or head onto a fitness trail again, where creative exercise ideas are ready to be carried out. But many people need the motivation of a group or instruction by a fitness trainer to carry out varied movements or do things that require a bit of extra push. 

What good are accessories like fascia rollers or balls?

People used to roll their back and legs over rolling pins, or stuck tennis or golf balls into socks for the same purpose, while today ready-to-purchase fascia products made of plastic are offered in roller and ball form. Self-massage promotes the perception of your body as well as recuperation, which is generally positive. The roller massage furthermore encourages tissue water exchange. In particular, individuals can also treat tension that is typical for runners as well as trigger points regularly and on their own if they systematically use fascia rollers or balls on a regular basis. You get used to the pressure-induced pain over time and don’t risk inflicting any damage. Depending on how sensitive you are to pain, you may prefer somewhat softer rollers which can then successively be replaced with harder ones after a while.