When did fascia become the bad guy?

What is the world coming to? There is a recent immersion of outdated theories arising where people are seriously touting the idea that you have to “mash” and “squash” your fascia to aid in improved performance.

Let’s leave the mashing and squashing to potatoes and bugs. Why mash and squash your own body? Why would we have to beat our bodies to submission to make it do what we want it to do? Just FYI, we are not at war with our body and if you treat it that way, well, you will have a revolt anyway you cut it.

It’s as if people perceive their body issues as an internal battle: Psyche against Body. This mentality is right in line with fraternity hazing. To have the brethren bond you must pay a dear price.

Look, I get it, and to some great extent I believe the ideas of the “when you play, play hard or go home”. Seriously, if you are going to train for sports performance, don’t read a magazine or watch TV while you train, exercise or work to obtain a goal. Why add distraction to the goal you want to achieve anyway? Train with purpose or don’t bother if your ultimate goal is to become outstanding in a sport, dance, or anything that requires accurate whole-body movement. In fact, I get that even if what you want to lose weight and you are doing cardio just for that, pay attention to what you are doing and you will make gains faster!

Although training at a high intensity consistently is a key way to become a great athlete, there’s nothing that says if you play this way you won’t have pain or get hurt in your efforts. If you train this way there is great risk of injury. In fact there are just as many sport injuries during training than there are once out on the field or court or track. That doesn’t mean a person shouldn’t take the risk.

However, when it comes to self-care and therapeutic intervention, you don’t need to work so hard.

self-inflicted pain

(Ouch: Here's an example of self-inflicted pain.)

Self-inflicted pain isn’t the fastest way to improved performance or eliminating pain. With foam rolling emerging as a way to self-care, the issue remains in this old self-massage modality – the concepts are outdated, static, and no recent understanding of cellular stability or integrity is even applied. Here’s the thing: you don’t need to mash your fascia to adapt changes. When did fascia become the bad guy anyway?

Let me educate you a little bit on connective tissue and what it actually is: At a cellular level, it is a support structure. It’s the environment that keeps all elements within it stable, balanced, and functioning efficiently. Daily living, from the elite athlete’s 6-hour training day to the lawyer who sits at a desk from 9-5, young or old, man or woman — the repetition of each day causes a demand on the supportive connective tissue. Its job is to manage incoming tension and compression forces to sustain balance from head to toe. If you keep doing the same repetitive things that daily life demands and you don’t address the accumulated stress in this tissue, it loses its ability to keep you stable in an efficient way. As the support structure becomes more challenged and strained, it loses ability to keep your body balanced and return it to an efficient place after you place stressful demand to it. I should mention here that sitting in the same posture is just as demanding as training for a marathon on the connective tissue level.

Connective tissue is challenged daily. The cellular dehydration occurring in this system is a natural effect of daily living. The problem with this natural effect is, it accumulates and causes stuck stress to alter our ability to function efficiently. If you never do anything about it, this singular cause can create a myriad of symptoms and issues from fatigue to pain. Once you are in this state, mashing your fascia isn’t the place to start helping restore its integrity. Now, don’t get me wrong, heavy compression when applied by a great therapist can certainly be beneficial, but if you are taking your care into your own hands, better to begin with a more specific, deep, focused, yet far-less-painful approach.

It’s hard for those who live in the “it’s got to be hard to work” mentality to wrap their brain around the idea that to make your body better you don’t have to go to war with it. It’s not a battle. In fact, when it comes to restoring the stability system of the body, going in slower, with a more specific, lighter compression will allow you to go deeper into the tissues that hold the stress and imbalance and make greater changes and lasting results. And dare I say, you may, in your slow, conscious, specific touch actually learn something about your body?! It’s counterintuitive based on what modern living tells us, but patience and consistency will get you far in the MELT Method. So go make some mashed potatoes and squash the old ideas of self-inflicting pain as a way to help your body perform better. You will be better for it and your body will reap the benefits of your self-care.

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