Strength Training Using Myofascial Lines
As scientists have now been able to uncover some of the mystery surrounding the elusive fascial system, it is a logical consequence that fitness experts are using this knowledge to explore how to use myofascial lines to optimise strength training.
The fascia is similar to a web – a network of tissue that is like an envelope for all the internal organs right from head to toe. You can imagine it to be something that holds together and connects organs, muscles, bones and joints in a way as to facilitate smooth movement with minimal friction. As it consists mainly of wet, slippery, oily tissue it went largely unnoticed and was not recognised as a system in itself until only recently. This “extra-cellular matrix” comprises of 3 main elements:
- Collagen fibres that provide tensile strength
- Elastin which is similar to a rubber band and lends elasticity that holds organs together
- Water that surrounds the tissue and makes it easy for the fibres to move and glide over one another.
However in order to be able to leverage the myofascial system to optimise training, we still need deeper insights into the exact functions of the fascia.
Important facts and functions of the Fascia:-
- Provides a kind of a 3D structural support around organs
- Minimises localised stress to joints, bones and muscles, thus also minimising the amount of fuel needed by the body to carry out the movement.
- The fascia soft tissue re-models itself based on the frequency of a particular movement – as repetitive movements create lines of stress. The characteristic of the fascia to become denser and stiffer along these lines comes with its set of advantages and disadvantages. From a short term perspective, the repeated movement will strengthen the particular tissue, easing that particular movement. In the long run, it may weaken the surrounding fascia resulting in resistance in the other joints when moved in a different direction.
- Possesses the ability to heal itself.
- Is able to act independent of the Central Nervous system. It’s the gravity that helps maintain the tension in the fascia in what is known as “the human resting myofascial tone”. This shapes our posture and enables us to carry out routine movements by dispensing minimal energy and without even thinking about them at a conscious level.
- Makes it possible to train the body as a whole. As the fascia envelopes the entire body, any workout would ultimately affect the body as a whole. This is the reason why fitness experts advocate including complete body movements into workout regimens as a means to improving fascial health.
What we can infer from the above insights is that training based on myofascial lines enables us to understand how to improve joint mobility and build endurance and strength, using minimal force and energy. It is important to train the body as a whole as against in isolation or segmented parts. This distributes force equally through the whole system, easing joint tensions and facilitating joint movement in all three planes of motion. It is therefore also essential to design and engage in exercises that use a varying mix of direction, force and speed in order to optimise the functioning of the fascia.
Some insights into training the neuromyofascial web
1 Use variation, rather than a repetitive program better for a smooth fascia
2 Whole body movements – engaging long myofascial chains is key to training the fascial system
3 Adaptive movement –
What to avoid:
1 Repetitive movement- those that work the same fascial line over and over again
2 Working out with upper level loads all the time
3 Training in the same tempo at every session