One of the more interesting presentations at the 2014 Integrative Healthcare Symposium was by Dr. Hal Blatman speaking on the advances in the science of fascia. In the world of strength training, rehabilitation, and fitness, fascia seems to be the topic of the hour, mainly because its importance has been neglected for so long and people are now realizing that it is more than just the “sheath around the muscles.” The truth is that muscles, bones AND organs are all interconnected via fascia, and the health of your fascia has far reaching effects on the health of your body. If you want to learn more, a great book exploring the role of fascia is the book Anatomy Trains by Thomas Myers.
Now I’ll leave you with a few of the main takeaways that I derived from Dr. Blatman’s presentation:
- Fascia has the ability to contract. This contrasts from the long-held view that fascia was nothing more than stringy connective tissue that holds the body together. It takes much longer than a skeletal muscle contraction, but over a period of 90min or so, fascia will contract and relax.
- Being stressed will cause the fascia to contract and will increase the perception of pain. The correct mental state is key for effective stretching programs.
- Bouncing builds elasticity into the tendons and entire fascia system (tendons are simply thick bunches of fascia). This is why plyometric exercise, which uses the stretch reflex, will result in increased speed and power when trained properly.
- An area that is tender on the body tends to cause the most pain. The area that is tender, however, does not necessarily coincide with the area that you are experiencing the pain. This is a phenomenon called “referred pain.” For example, pain from plantar fasciitis often comes from the calf, not to bottom of the foot.
- You must take care of nutrition if you expect to maintain healthy, pain-free fascia. Some of the most common foods that will cause excessive inflammation in the fascia are wheat, sugar, potatoes, corn, juice, starch, artificial sweeteners, and hydtogenated fats. Those who experience weather-related inflammation are a result of food intolerances. If you are spending hours using various myofascial release techniques but you are not taking care of your nutrition, you are wasting your time!
- Dr. Blatman has found injection treatments such as PRP (platelet rich plasma) to be highly effective in healing tendon and fascia injuries, and even in treating scoliosis in children.
- NSAIDs such as asprin and tylenol are NOT RECOMMENDED for healing injuries! Ice is also not recommended either. NSAIDs will slow down the healing process and will result in incomplete healing over the long term. They may reduce pain in the short term, but in the long term NSAIDs are not effective and excessive use can also result in leaky gut syndrome. Simply maintainig an anti-inflammatory diet would do much more to speed the healing process.