Here is one of my favorite definitions!
Thomas Hendrickson (Massage and Manual Therapy for Orthopedic Conditions pg. 14)
“(FASCIA) Connective tissue is composed of cells, fibers and ground substance. It forms the structural walls for the heart, lungs and blood vessels and it binds joints together through ligaments and joint capsules. It give shape to the body through broad sheets of fascia and compartments, called septa, which contain the muscles. It forms the structural framework within muscles and transmits the pull of the muscles through the tendons.”
Thomas Hendrickson, pg. 24-25
“The muscle fibers are so interwoven with connective tissue that a more accurate term for muscle is myofascai. “
So much action is going on inside the body during a Pilates session: fluid is moving, cells are being repaired, fibers of collagen are gliding, and muscles fibers are contracting.
So how do we as Pilates teachers begin to cue Fascia and influence the superficial layer of fascia?
- Study the Fascia Lines of movement with all of the muscles involved. Cue the entire system of fascia, and know that there is a fluid exchange that is happening due to the nature of the Pilates Method which includes: Inversions, Flexion, Extension, Rotation, Lateral Flexion, and Dynamic Stretching. Here are the Fascia Lines according to Thomas Myers from his Anatomy Trains: Superficial Back Line, Superficial Front Line, Lateral Line, Superficial Spiral Lines, Deep Front Line, Arm Lines, and Front Functional Line.
- You need to know what Pilates exercises activate the different fascia connections. Use verbal cues that speak to the entire body, instead of a specific muscle group. Focus on lengthening, instead of muscle contraction. A good resource is Elizabeth Larkam’s book Fascia in Motion has a great break down of the fascia lines from Joe’s Classical Reformer work in Chapter 5 – it’s my favorite part of the book and I love how she draws the fascia lines on Joseph’s original black and white pictures.
- You have to be able to see the stuck tissue first. Notice where the client is not activating, then use tactile cuing to guide the superficial layer of stuck fascia to help re-pattern the body.
- Know the POWER of the Eccentric Contraction in Pilates. You need strong springs that give the body RESISTANCE on Eccentric part of the exercise. This is the pull or the turning on the fascia. Fascia, is slow to fire unlike muscle. It can take a few reps for it to actually start to be part of the movement. Cue to the eccentric contraction.
For example: Footwork on the Reformer: Heels on- The Concentric Contraction is on the press out to straighten the knees, Eccentric Contraction is on the return into the carriage. I would tell the clients to drag the carriage into the stopper from the heels all the way up the back of the leg, through the spine to the crown of the head to the top of the eyebrows.
- Springs are important! The eccentric pull in a spring will train the fascia. If the spring is lacking that quality, then the fascia won’t turn on. I recommend Merrithew’s Springs, Balance Body’s CONTROLOGY Springs, and Gratz Springs)
We as teachers have to grow and expand as movement science advances.
Check out my YouTube TV Channel Carrie Miller Pilates. Click Here for Footwork on the Jump Board with a Fascia emphasis.