Fascia is everywhere in our bodies. From the superficial fascia, it dives deep and forms pods called fascicles that actually create your musculature from the inside out. Under a microscope fascia is highly organized in a mesh formulation of tubules filled with water and fluids. Fascia has been overlooked for a long time. Until recently is was viewed as “packaging” for our soft tissue, but science is finally recognizing that fascia is so much more than that. It is a highly communicative sensory and proprioceptive tissue. The fascia is what you feel when you stretch or when you have physical pain. It’s the tension in the fascia around the area of sensation that causes feelings of tightness. The tendons and ligaments are layers of fascia that are meant to absorb shock and distribute the impact. However, if tendons and ligaments are short, dehydrated and tight they will fray, resulting in pain. Think of a sponge. When a sponge dries out it becomes brittle and hard and with very little force it can easily be broken. However, when a sponge is wet and well hydrated it is resilient and springy. You can crush it into a ball and it bounces back. You can twist and pull on it but it is difficult to break. This is what is happening inside our bodies! When our fascia is well hydrated our bodies are resilient and mobile. What we call stretching a muscle, is actually the fibers of the connective tissue (collagen) gliding along one another on the mucous-y proteins called GAG’s (glycosaminoglycans). GAG’s can glue layers together if water is absent or allow for them to glide across one another when hydrated. one of the reasons we get injured is because layers of fascia “glue” together, the fascia is dried out. The fascia becomes brittle and is more likely to experience tears, ruptures and all sorts of uncomfortable things. So drink more water right? Well, yes and no. Hydration is great for your body but if your fascia is dehydrated it is like having a bunch of little kinks in your fascial system and no matter how much water you drink it can’t get to the dehydrated tissues. In order to get the fluids to the kinks you need to work on the soft tissue.
So what do we do to re-hydrate the tissues? We move. Movement gets hydration out to the tissues, but not just any kind of movement, varied movement. The movements themselves along with the tempo need to be switched up. Moving constantly in the same ways and in the same planes actually puts you at risk for joint erosion, joint pain and further dehydration of the fascia. However, when we vary our movement patterns, drawing hydration back into our tissues we are left feeling younger, lighter, resilient, more mobile and we will literally put the spring back into our step. Once your tissue retains it’s natural spring, the fascia allows you to use less muscle power for the same effect resulting in less fatigue and greater endurance.