In my first blog of the From Desk Life to Best Life series, we got an introduction to the hazards of sitting and some quick tips you can do today, to combat it. Now it's time to take a look at this increasingly popular term called fascia and how if you know more about it, you can prevent and eliminate pain.
WHAT IS FASCIA?
Fascia is one of the most important systems and structures in the human body and is only now starting to be looked at when evaluating injury. It holds everything together in the body and is responsible for maintaining structural integrity to help you move and stabilize. Fascia is constantly shifting and changing in tone and tension due to the massive amount of sensory receptors located in it. Most people's only familiarity with fascia is an injury called plantar fasciitis. This is caused by the horrible shoes we're stuck in all day long, but we'll address that later in this series. So how does fascia relate to you and why is it so important to everyone, especially those who sit at a desk?
DO YOUR LAUNDRY
Think of fascia as a sock encasing everything in the body. It can slide, shift and bunch based on how you spend the majority of your time and how you move. At first, the sock is nice and neat. No wrinkles, all the lines are still straight - this is what fascia should look like. However, when you move in different positions, the sock starts to bunch and twist. Since you haven't moved the sock in a while, it starts to get hard and loses elasticity. That's what happens to fascia and that’s how problems arise.
PAIN...AN UNWELCOME GUEST
When our bodies are placed in a position day after day (sitting, standing, laying, etc.) our fascia begins to conform and shift to make these positions easier. Sounds great, right? Fascia is making our life easier by giving us constant support. The problem arises when we're stuck in these familiar positions and then want to enjoy an active, physical lifestyle (playing with our kids, enjoying the great outdoors, exercising). These activities, which shouldn't be a problem, become difficult because our fascia has conditioned our bodies to the familiar positions and will now fight us. Before you know it, you start to move a little differently to avoid the discomfort you feel. This is a compensation pattern and this is when the pain comes to town.
THE CULPRIT AND THE VICTIM
After you've been at your desk all day and go to do other activities (golf, tennis, exercise) parts of your body become compromised and start to move differently which causes the rest of the body to compensate. Now we have a global problem all because we haven't moved. This process is called the Culprit and the Victim.A quick example would be shoulders slouched forward (CULPRIT) causing your lower back (VICTIM) to do way more movement than its capable of. We’ll touch on other examples of this process in later blogs as well. It's an extremely important concept to remember.
Some additional points to keep in mind:
Don’t stay in one position for a long time
When you start to feel discomfort in a particular area, you can't ignore it
The longer you ignore the problem the more compensation takes place and eventually it will be harder to find the original culprit
The cause of pain starts happening somewhere else (think Culprit and Victim)
If you feel pain, get the tissue moving!
Looking for exercises you can do now? Check out the Pippin Performance YouTube channel for exercises you can do in less than a minute!
Next time we’ll dig deeper and get to the good stuff - exercises you can do, targeting the wrists, forearms, biceps and triceps.
ABOUT COACH MATT PIPPIN
Matt is a Strength and Conditioning Coach and Level 3 Fascial Stretch Therapist with over 15 years experience in his field. After years of playing sports as a child, Matt gained an interest in health and wellness and decided to pursue a career in strength and conditioning. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Exercise Science in 2005. During college Matt played rugby and interned as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with the football team.
Post graduation, he worked with professional athletes as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for NFL Europe's Berlin Thunder. For 8 years, Matt worked in Chicago, IL at the East Bank Club as a Master Personal Trainer, Performance Coach and Fascial Stretch Therapist helping athletes and weekend warriors achieve their personal goals. Inspired by the overall quality and active lifestyle that California is known for, Matt and his wife Jennifer moved to San Diego in the summer of 2014 and haven’t looked back!
NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Level 3: Fascial Stretch Specialist
Level 1: Institute of Motion Health Coach
Certified FRC Mobility Specialist (FRCms)