You Stretch Your Muscles, What About Your fascia?
Whenever we feel sore and achy, we usually talk about our muscles and joints. Few of us complain about our fascia being tight, but in fact, this may be the source of the problem.
Fascia is the layer of fibrous connective tissue that surrounds individual muscles, groups of muscles, blood vessels and nerves. Over time, this tissue can thicken and shorten due to poor posture, lack of exercise, past injury or stress. The result is loss of mobility and range of motion, and discomfort that people often dismiss as a muscle or joint problem.
“The affect on parts of the body is like wearing a wetsuit that’s too tight,” said Ryan Williams.
Ryan, a trainer at Free Form Fitness’s Kanata location, is a certified fascial stretch therapist. He combines assisted stretching techniques, and his knowledge of biomechanics and human kinetics, to get clients on the right track.
Ann and Chris Frederick, directors of the Stretch to Win Institute, pioneered fascial stretch therapy in the late 1990s in their work with Olympic and pro athletes. It was Ryan’s own medical history that led him to learn about the benefits of the technique and pursue a career as a personal trainer.
Ryan suffers from a rare blood vessel and muscle disorder that has yet to be named. This has left him with range of motion limitations in his right side and vascular issues similar to varicose veins. He has had about 50 related surgeries.
That hasn’t stopped Ryan from pursuing a fit and active lifestyle, and helping others do the same, with the help of fascial stretch therapy.
Unlike self-directed active stretching, fascial stretching is largely passive, similar to massage therapy. Ryan gently works the client’s body through a series of stretches and rotations to relax and stretch the fascia tissues. It is a gradual process and the effects are cumulative over time. A full session of stretching just for the legs, for example, can easily take 45 minutes.
“The result is better performance, faster recovery, reduced risk of injury, and reduced pain associated with arthritis and intense training,” said Ryan.