Now that we’ve spoken about Fascia and how it permeates the entire body. Know that as I mention “muscles” I’m referring to locations in the Fascial web, not separating them. It’s an arbitrary distinction much like the countries on Planet Earth, it helps to describe what’s happening but it’s all one thing.
That said we could continue the metaphor.. Let’s consider the idea of First World vs. Third World countries. What makes a country one or the other? We might say the standard of living, the GDP, the government and so on.. If we look deeper, we might see that some countries are moving up at the expense of others.
The parallel is that some muscles become strained while others become atrophied.. First world and third world countries. The result of this is a body which is dysfunctional. The dynamics of movement are altered and with it the tensions that shape our body and our future.
It does remind me in some way of our social circumstance. There is a dysfunction, a disconnection. The idea of a hierarchical society might have seemed crazy to our ancestors. With the scale of people right now, it’s difficult to put things into perspective. All I’ll say to wrap up the metaphor is that we are all muscles. The air we breathe is the fascia of the Earth. Let’s stand together and work towards what is better for the entire body.
A third world muscle is an area which has insufficient circulation or neural drive. This could look like the pec major in a winged scapula or the glutes in an anterior pelvic tilt. This country has limited resources or ability to access it’s resources. It may be dehydrated or have “knots”, adhesions..
A 1st world country is overactive. This could be the hip flexors or scalenes in the ubiquitous forward head posture. It has excessive neural drive and is active in positions it should not be.
Both of these patterns are held in place by Fascia and begin to crystalize over time. In the elderly we see the end result of this, a body which can no longer walk or even stand. The aging process is near to my heart because of the way I’m witnessing it with my grandparents..
Normal Fascia has “crimp”- a natural bounce, elasticity. Dysfunctional Fascia has adhesions.. Instead of the smooth lattice which allows myofascial force transmission, there are knots.. Blockages. It is dehydrated and strained.
The aesthetics are obvious in the extreme examples of the elderly but are present even in the younger population.
What’s truly unfortunate is how this is considered a normal part of aging. The degradation of bone density and connective tissue as we age does not need to reach anywhere near the point it does for most.
Having been close to this in my personal life, I feel it’s important to highlight another way.
Although the dysfunctions happening on a body are complex, they can be decoded and corrected using the proper strategy. The way is to evaluate the body as a whole in posture and movement.
By Identifying our dysfunctions and moving to align the tissues using tension, we create connections which facilitate and restore a Functional Posture.
When we move in this way, our tissues stay hydrated and our joints are tractioned through movement. This is the way we can maintain our movement into old age.
As we age, the muscles we’ve developed and relied on to compensate for our poor biomechanics will certainly lose tone. What will remain longer are the Tendons and denser coatings of Fascia we have laid down in response to the way we moved..
This is good news if we’ve moved functionally, and terrible news if we’ve moved dysfunctionally.
What remains are our movement patterns, muscles will deteriorate.
Generally speaking, most of us are operating from a dysfunctional posture. This affects us everyday in ways we may not notice or may just dismiss as “normal”, “aches and pains” etc.
Low Back Pain, Knee and Shoulder Issues, Anxiety, Breathlessness in Movement.. These and more have created an aversion to movement for some.
Add this to the sedentary modern lifestyle and technological distraction, we get an interesting phenomenon which has been called “somatic amnesia.”
Somatic Amnesia is the idea that people have forgotten how to feel their bodies. We have dissociated..
Our movement has become less coordinated, our breathing is erratic and our minds follow the same trend.
Let’s talk about how dysfunction is mediated through Fascia.. First let’s recall posture comes about as a result of Pre Stress, the state of tension in a Tensegrity structure at rest.
Dysfunctional posture represents a Pre-Stress where force transfer, circulation, neural drive, or alignment with gravity are interrupted in some way.
This will be mediated through the Fascia, anchor points will be created to keep the body standing and joints safe. For example if someone has the Fascia around the Hip Flexor complex hypertonic it is operating as an anchor point. Their weight is being anchored excessively through this line, it is hypertonic and overused.
In this case the overactive hip flexors will decrease the neural drive to the opposite muscle, the Gluteus Maximus. Since it is the antagonist, this affects the stability of the pelvis as a whole.
We may fall into the Anterior Pelvic Tilt and collapse our Lumbar Spine.. Round Our Upper Back and Push the Head Forward to balance ourselves.
The situation described above is fairly common. This is a simplified explanation but still we see that there will be many anchor points and areas of altered neural drive and alignment.
A big issue I’ve been seeing is loss of neural drive to the diaphragm causing hyperventilation and low intra abdominal pressure. The Tension in the body is such that it forces exhalation, this leads to chronic hyperventilation which has its own host of harsh consequences including fatigue and anxiety.
We could speak all day on dysfunction but the point I’d really like to hammer home is this..
There is really only one problem..
The one problem is that we are not living as humans evolved to live.
The expectations our body developed around, in this case the mechanical stress of walking, running, throwing, load bearing etc. are not being met.. I would especially emphasize walking, many of our ancestors were known to walk ten miles daily.
By mimicking these mechanical stresses in our training we can see great benefit and of course by simply walking more.
The position of our Fascia dictates the position of our Spine.. Our nerves, blood vessels, intra abdominal pressure, tissue hydration and even more..
For that reason, fixing our dysfunction at the level of Fascia will give us the highest return on our investment out of anything we can do.
It is getting to the root of the issue in a world where we often treat symptoms.
Functional Patterns is the only training system to do this. If you’re interested check out FunctionalPatterns.com or send me an inquiry.
Movement is a giant input to the system.. Light, Food, Sleep and other humans are big too!
Let’s support each other in tackling these dysfunctions and move towards practicality in our training and lifestyle.
Let’s chase function,
let’s live intentionally, not habitually…