What is the fascia system and why is it important?
Fascia is both tissue and fluid. Let’s take a look at this quote from Louis Green’s Book Structural Integration and Energy Medicine, pg. 25
“Healthy connective tissue supports the structures embedded within it by delivering blood flow, nutrients, neural impulses, and energetic messages and by removing metabolic waste.”
“When connective tissue becomes twisted in rotation, they can shorten, compress and dry out. This dehydration leads to a buildup of metabolic wastes that cause inflammation, pain, and degeneration. The fascia can also adhere to itself or other structures, distorting the shape of the three dimensional fascial web of the body.”
The connective tissue is very responsive and adaptable. The rotation patterns arise out of injury, emotion, stress, and habitual posture patterns (the preferred side).
The second element of fascia is the fluid exchange which is very important to rid the toxins and direct that fluid to the lymph nodes. The only way the fluid exchange happens is during movement or exercise.
This is a quote by David lesondak, from Fascia, What it is and Why it matters
“The fluid component of the extracellular matrix (EMC) is where the culmination exchange takes place. It’s called ground substance. Ground substance is a viscous, fluid environment where chemical exchanges take place in the body and the molecular exchange between blood, lymph, and tissue cells happen. It is the immediate environment of every cell in your body.
“The ground substance surrounds the fascia fibers enabling them to slide. The EMC is full of water. We are more or less 70% water. Every day that 7.5 L of interstitial fluid wash past our cells, outside of the vascular system, mostly ending up in the lymphatics."
"Interstitial fluid flow is responsible for transmission of nutrients to cells and has a role in tissue remodeling inflammation and lymphedema flow can give directional cues driving tumor cells in lymphocytes to lymph nodes."
How do the Pilates exercises influence the fascia system (fluid and tissue)?
The way we work against gravity. Pilates Mat is predominantly conducted on the floor in a supine and prone position with the arms and the legs in the air. It has rocking motions, recoil, and push / pull patterns which help the stuck tissue to glide. The fluid exchange starts to happen and there are immediate improvements in circulation over glide of the tissue which leads to new movement potential.
Pilates is one of the only exercise systems that uses the body in this way. Secondly, Pilates is training the neural pathways - repatterning how the body needs to respond to gravity once the fascia begins to glide.
The Pilates reformer and all equipment with springs creates pretensioning on the fascial system and the instability creates connection to the body 3 dimensionally. Meaning it automatically turns on the fascia system.
The fascia lines, bone movement, and preferred patterns.
How do we cue the fascia system? It’s through relationship patterns and micro movements of the bones with an understanding of the fascia lines as well as the developmental patterns with connection to breath.
The fascia lines are the connectivity of the mind to the relationship of gravity and how the body responds. The lines are:
Deep Front Line, Functional Front Line and Superficial Front Line
Functional Back Line, Superficial Back Line
Arm Lines - Front Superficial Arm Line, Deep Front Arm Line, Back Superficial Arm Line, Deep Back Arm Line
These fascia lines activate by the body’s relationship to gravity in the Pilates exercises - think prone, supine, side lying and the actions of the movement flexion, extension, rotation, and lateral flexion.
Where are the compensations for most people?
The lateral line and the back lines are usually very underdeveloped unless the student plays a sport like: football, basketball, hockey, etc.
I focus on working those two lines especially for new students.
What I have found is that using the fascia lines and bone movement I have been able to identify compensations. Cueing to these compensations brings new awareness to their proprioception and helps students break plateaus, heal from injuries, and find movement patterns that will keep them in high performance.
Are you interested in learning more about how the fascia system is integrated into the Pilates exercises?
I have two courses for the teachers: Foundations Fascia Mat & Foundations Fascia Reformer - click here for more info.