Monday, June 14, 2010

Fascinating, Fascia-nating Fascia

When thinking about health, most people consider their digestion, bones, heart and other muscles. Few consider their fascia, after all most people don't even know what fascia is. Fascia is the organ of structure, the connective substance that holds muscles, bones, organs, and everything in the body together.

Finally fascia is getting its due.

A recent article in Men's Health entitled "Everything You Know About Muscle is Wrong" describes how the inner, interconnected web is as important as muscle to fitness, athletic performance and pain-free living. Fascia creates the bounce and resiliency that we associate with youthful movements. It also can ingrain our ineffective postural habits, which causes strain and stiffness.

So how do you keep your fascia healthy?

In the article, Steve Maxwell, a former Jiu Jitsu world champ and current personal trainer, recommends exercise that uses balance, ROM, being fluid, and elastic recoil. Think of the activities you enjoyed as a child, those that use your whole body and are playful.

Even though we may not be able to jump like we did as children, we can bounce and swing. One of exercises recommended in the article is the exercise of the month, which is highlighted in this blog's previous article.

What do you do to keep your fascia healthy?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Exercise of the Month: Squats

Squats or Chair Pose (utkatasana) in yoga are so good for you, that I recommend doing some every day. Not only do they strengthen and stretch muscles, they are good for your cardiovascular system and also line up your digestive tract.

Here's a variation that helps keep the spring in your step.
CAUTION: Only squat as far as you can without any pain. If you have knee problems, check with your health care provider to see if this is appropriate for you.
  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart or a little wider and your toes pointing straight ahead.
  2. Sit down and back with your spine straight and low back long, Move slowly as you sit back so you can focus on your alignment.
  3. Keep your knees in line with your toes and don't let them go forward of your toes. Concentrate on keeping your hips back more than your knees forward.
  4. As soon as you reach your comfortable deepest squat, press evenly into both feet and stand up quickly.
The more frequently you do squats, the deeper you will be able to go, eventually being able to sit back on your heels.