As we farewell a long weekend and welcome another week (albeit shorter) at the office, here is something to consider for those of you sitting at your desk powering hour after hour away at the computer.

Maintaining a mobile, strong and healthy body is not just about the muscles it’s about the FASCIA. Sitting for long periods in a stooped posture, coupled with navigating stress can cause damage to the neurological system. In turn impacting hormone function, metabolism of sugars and causing chronic pain.

In times of extreme stress paying special attention to how you are managing the body, managing the stress and maintaining a platform from which you can achieve balance with your system is critically important.

If you are interested in the role of fascia in fitness training, the following questions lead to new take-aways: 

Most injuries are connective-tissue (fascial) injuries, not muscular injuries—so how do we best train to prevent and repair damage and build elasticity and resilience into the system? 

There are 10 times more sensory nerve endings in your fascia than in your muscles; therefore, so how do you train the fascia as well as the muscles?

Traditional anatomy texts of the muscles and fascia are inaccurate, based on a fundamental misunderstanding of our movement function—so how can we work with fascia as a whole, as the “organ system of stability”?

Consciously or unconsciously, you have been working with fascia for your whole life—it is unavoidable. Now, however, new research is reinforcing the importance of fascia and other connective tissue in functional training (Fascia Congress 2009). 

Fascia is much more than “plastic wrap around the muscles.” Fascia is the organ system of stability and mechano-regulation (Varela & Frenk 1987). Understanding this may revolutionize our ideas of “fitness.” Research into the fascial net upsets both our traditional beliefs and some of our new favorites as well. The evidence all points to a new consideration within overall fitness for life—hence the term fascial fitness. Lets look at a few key ways you can assist your system through stress and work for optimal physical wellbeing.

Take time to get treatment: Give a little back and help the nervous system heal and repair:

“Myofascial release is a manipulative treatment that attempts to release tension in the fascia due to trauma, posture, or inflammation. Connective tissues called fascia surround the muscles, bones, nerves, and organs of the body. Points of restriction in the fascia can place a great deal of pressure on nerves and muscles causing chronic pain.Practitioners of myofascial release employ long stretching strokes meant to balance tissue and muscle mechanics and improve joint range of motion in order to relieve pain.”

Change your training focus during high stress periods to work the body in a manner that calms the nervous system rather than focusing on strength and muscle work. By training the neurological system, you are able to help balance the high stress by nourishing the body and hormonal system through movement. Focus away from pure ‘strength’ training for the period of time that stress is high.  Lets take working your bicep muscle as an example; Many of the traditional training methodologies focus on ‘muscle’ work, while forgetting the ignition point for this to occur.

When you consider the evidence, that the muscles can only do their job after correct, clear signal from the nervous system and fascia health being integral to effectiveness of this communication, we begin to see how important caring for the body when stress is high. How managing your training practices to ‘support’ rather than ‘smash’ the system and body is so important along with clean eating and supplementation.

Yoga, Swimming, Meditation and Structured Breath practices are a great way to support the system during these high stress periods, be mindful that going harder in training sessions is NOT advised. By backing off and listening to your body, you can mitigate many long term health problems and function at a far better level overall.