“Will I be able to do the splits after you work on me?”
I’ve been asked this quite a few times when new clients walk into my office. My rise to fame would be meteoric if I could perform such a feat! The answer is NO, it doesn’t work that way.
Just because you are so flexible you can wrap yourself into a pretzel does NOT mean your fascia is healthy. Conversely, just because your fascia is healthy (maybe you’ve become a fascial release ninja?!) does NOT necessarily mean you will achieve an increase in flexibility. Though it might…
There is definitely some overlap and if you’re going to win the game of mastering your mobility, then it’s critical to understand the distinctions.
I’m going to do my best to break this down and make the info WORK for you and your goals.
This is PART ONE of a THREE PART series.
What does it mean to be flexible?
Take flexibility a step further and you might think of the people next to you in yoga who can go all the way into pigeon pose without screaming (definitely not me), or sit comfortably in a deep squat with perfect form and no knee pain (me!)
Take it to an even greater extreme and we’re talking about those people are so bendy it doesn’t even seem “right.” These are usually gymnasts, dancers, performers or dedicated yogis who have taken their practice to a totally different level: the human pretzel! (Yikes).
What does it mean to have healthy fascia?
When your fascia is in an optimal state it won’t hurt AT ALL when weight or compression is applied. That means you could have a sumo wrestler standing with his full weight on your IT Band and it wouldn’t hurt a bit! True story. (Actually I haven’t tested that one yet, but I should! Ha. That picture to the right is me devilishly excited to work on my apprentice’s IT Band, AND it demonstrates my hyper-mobile elbow and shoulder joints).
If your entire fascial system is healthy, it will act as one unit like a highly adaptive SPRING (click here for a specific post on this), allowing us to sprint, jump and fall with minimal impact on our bones.
We have as our birthright the ability to play and move as we want because our fascial system is designed to absorb impact AND allow us to spring out of jumps and steps with fluid elasticity.
Most of us, however, have unhealthy fascia to varying degrees and don’t even know how GOOD we can feel because fascia is only JUST beginning to make a name for itself within the fitness, medical and alternative wellness worlds. Getting our fascia healthy should NOT be limited (in my opinion) just to those of us in pain! Kind of like eating well and being active, the healthier our fascia the better we will feel in our bodies on a daily basis and PREVENT all kinds of soft tissue and joint pain as we age.