What is Fascia?
Fascia is a network of layered connective tissue that surrounds muscles, bone and joints. It’s a soft tissue of varying biomechanical and biochemical properties, depending on where its positioned in the body and serves the function of connecting, supporting and shaping every muscle, organ, blood vessel and nerve in the body. During activity, fascia is believed to help reduce friction and thus assist with muscle force production.
Problems With Fascia
When the fascia is restricted it can cause a decrease in joint space, which can lead to degenerative joint diseases such as osteoarthritis, increased muscle tone which can lead to trigger points, strains, tendonitis, tears, increased nervous tissue tone which can lead to headaches, trigger points and muscle tightness, increased scar tissue formation and decreased blood flow and energy levels. Because fascia determines the range of motion of each joint as well as the physiology and kinesiology of all muscles, if it is not in an optimal state, an athlete’s flexibility, strength or power will be compromised. The most common causes of restricted fascia include: injury, overuse and Inactivity
Fascial Stretch Therapy Defined
Fascial Stretch Therapy or FST is a pain-free assisted stretch that reaches down to the deepest levels – dramatically improving an athlete’s mobility and flexibility. It helps in pain reduction as well as reduces stiff joints, stress and helps improve athletic performance. It also reduces tight muscles, improves circulation, reduces the risk of injury and helps achieve symmetrical development of your body. FST reduces the passive muscle tensions experienced as a result of training or even arthritis if relevant. It can also help your athletic performance by allowing for freer movement and reduce recovery time.
Fascial Stretching For Bodybuilders
Fascial stretch therapy stretches the muscle giving it the opportunity to increase in growth. You will still need to train hard and increase protein, but FST gives the muscle the opportunity the grow. If you do not stimulate it by bulking and weight training, you will not notice any gains.
Stretch Duration For Bodybuilders
FST should be done after a good muscle pump from your workout. All fascia stretching is done at the bottom of the negative rep for a good long stretch of 30 seconds to one minute. For example if your doing chest workout sets, hold a good long weighted fascia stretch with a chest flye at the bottom. Make sure you do not lower the weight to the point of pain. You should feel a stretch and it should be tough to hold, but it should not be excessive as it will cause injury. This stretching should ideally be done at the end of a workout rather than the beginning. One mistake many flexible athletes make, is to practice static stretching before they train. Studies have shown that static stretching before a vertical jump can decrease power, so when a gymnast finishes stretching and begins their workout, they are in a weakened state. The same with the dancers. So what can be done is give a dynamic stretching warm-up before they train, which increases their range of motion but doesn’t weaken the muscles.
FST & Athletes
Olympic Skiiers, figure skaters, football players, runners, and cyclists are amongst the athletes who choose to use Fascial Stretch Therapy to enhance their recovery and minimise injuries. FST is also useful for people needing rehabilitation post-surgery, people suffering osteo-arthritis, shoulder mobility issues, back pain, rounded shoulders and even those suffering from Parkinson’s.