How Our Daily Habits Shape Our Fascia and Make us Prone to Certain Injuries
What we do with the majority of our days has the greatest impact on the SHAPE and QUALITY of our fascia.
Fascia is meant to be nearly impervious to change. We have more fascia in our bodies than anything else, and it’s the tissue that both separates and connects every separate substance inside of us. If fascia were easily changeable we’d be in big trouble!
This is both good and bad news for us.
It means we can rest assured we won’t bruise like crazy or fall apart if we merely bump into things, and whatever we do with our days will have only minimal impact in small doses.
It also means that fascia will only change dramatically through habitual repetition/correction of certain movements and positions, OR by applying enough compression to the fascial system and asking the fascia to change itself (this is what I do in my private practice).
The seemingly insignificant everyday movements and positions we take as we sit, stand, sleep, play sports etc have the greatest effect on the shape of our fascia because we do these things for decades.
These are the things I’m always looking for in my private practice when working with clients to figure out exactly what may be causing whatever pain they’re experiencing; and YOU can do the same type of detective work for yourself.
If someone comes in with low back pain, it’s not enough (long term) to simply release key areas of fascia if they are partially or wholly creating their low back pain pattern with their habits (unless they want to become a weekly client of mine, which some do). In order to permanently reverse the pattern some of these habits need to be corrected.
Much of the time with people who come to me for low back pain relief there are anywhere from one to five or more daily habits that are contributing, such as leaning on one leg (say the left), holding their kids on that hip, a habit of sitting with that leg bent and it’s summer and during every mountainous hike they use that leg to step up onto rocks since it’s the strong one.
This is a common pattern I see in many of my clients, and all of this left leg dominance (or RIGHT leg) can lead to low back pain, knee pain, hip issues, foot issues and more.
There are TONS of these tiny habits to consider, and I’m not going to name them all or we’d be here all day. Please watch the video for specific examples of what to watch out for in YOUR life!
This post and video are meant to spark your curiosity about YOUR daily habits in life and activities.
The more you pay attention, the wiser you’ll be when it comes to whatever pain you may be prone to and how to reverse or prevent it.
Some of these habits are easier to change than others.
GREAT news for athletes:
This is something I’ve learned by working with people over the last 8 years. Call it citizen science, because I am not aware of any actual scientific proof that I can point to, so you’ll have do your own experiments and find out if you agree with what I’m about to say.
When it comes to pain, it doesn’t matter AT ALL if you have one leg that is STRONGER than the other. What matters is the quality of the fascia within each leg. Most sports by their very nature create imbalances.
Take cycling for example: MOST cyclists tend to stabilize with the left leg and power with the right (just google cycling and you’ll see a bunch of pictures of cyclists with left legs down and right legs poised to power!)
If the less powerful leg has fascia that is smooth and relatively “healthy,” but the dominant leg has fascia that is dehydrated, knotted up in baseball sized lumps and pulling muscle groups together that should be separate, then it will likely pull your pelvis out of alignment and lead to low back or hip pain, or pull your kneecap off center causing knee pain, or irritate your plantar fascia leading to plantar fasciitis…or all of the above (these are just a few examples).
We could just as easily apply this scenario to soccer players or skiers, who tend to also be right leg dominant. Let me state for the record that there are MANY people who have cross body patterns, with fascial tightness zigzagging instead of always being on one side. Someone may be a soccer player and have a very strong/tight right quad, and they may also lean on their left leg, or hold kids on the left hip, making their left IT Band and TFL strong/tight, and maybe they sleep with their right leg curled up leading to more right quad and right adductor tightness. If you’re a CrossFitter or weight lifter, you may be using your strong leg to propel you out of the bottom of a squat but when you sit it’s always with the other leg tucked under or resting on top. The list goes on and on…
If the fascia within the strong dominant leg is smooth, supple and healthy, then it doesn’t matter one bit that it’s stronger than the other leg. A strong muscle won’t likely cause a structural imbalance like a shifted, tilted or rotated pelvis; it’s the fascia stuck in balls that does this. Yes, using this leg more will cause the fascia to become less healthy (over time) but it is entirely possible to stay on top of this with compression based fascial release methods that keep the fascia healthy no matter how much demand is placed on the tissues. This is one reason athletes stay with me even when they’re not in pain: they want to keep their fascia healthy and balanced to prevent pain.
This is great news for athletes, because unlike a lot of the other habits we can change (like how we sit or stand), it’s incredibly difficult to switch to being a left leg kicker in soccer, or become a cyclist that powers with the left leg when it’s always been the right.
Of course, this good news means that in order for the strong leg not to become an issue leading to pain, you MUST become diligent in taking care of its fascia.
The key to PREVENTING pain is to take care of that fascial system and if you’re prone to an imbalance in the legs, then the #1 priority should be to BALANCE YOURSELF OUT. Even if both legs are semi-unhealthy, if they are equally unhealthy you’ll be in better shape than if there’s a major imbalance left to right (this is more true for things like hip and low back pain than knee or foot issues). Of course, maintaining healthy fascia throughout the entire body is ideal.
If you’re not super active then you’ll want to look at your daily habits of how you sit, stand, work and sleep; and whenever possible correct the issues that lead to a big imbalance left to right and/or certain areas of fascia that tighten up and lead to pain.
I’ve had quite a few clients begin standing on both legs equally and stop sitting the ways I show in the video, and often simply correcting these two things meant their pain DISAPPEARED within a week or two.
By far the biggest issue for all of us is how we SIT. If you sit all day for work, that in itself is a big issue that can lead to low back, hip and knee issues to name just a few. HOW you sit often determines which side the pain is on.
If you sit all day and go home to sit some more on the couch only to go to sleep and spend 8 hours curled in the fetal position…you’re priming yourself for some serious low back and hip issues. If you’re not athletic that’s ok…WALKING IS ONE OF THE HEALTHIEST FORMS OF MOVEMENT. Perhaps consider taking up daily walking to mobilize your fascia, lymphatic system, heart, lungs and muscles.
For the BEST result:
Ideally you will address the unhealthy fascia you may have in addition to correcting some of these habits. You can search this site for specific areas of the body or certain types of pain and what to do for each issue.
If you get your fascia healthy AND start looking at your daily habits and stop doing even just one or two of the things I talk about in the video you will be well on your way to reversing whatever pattern and pain you’ve created over decades.