Fascia is one of the most important and at the same time least understood tissues in the body. It is also one of the most overlooked aspects of athletic training and recovery. Most athletes tend to focus only on muscles, and first when injury occurs and solutions are sought after, fascia becomes an important part.
What are fascia?
Fascia are fine, tough connective tissue fibres that pass through our entire body like a three-dimensional network. It surround all muscles, bones, organs and nerve cells, and ensure that when we move, the individual parts of our body glide past one another and remain in place. Fascia also act as links between the muscle fibres and ensure that we are able to use our muscle strength.
Fascia shorten and harden (goes into contraction) if not used on a regular basis (similarly to muscles). The structures of the fascia stick together and thicken, which causes them to become porous and lose their elasticity. This results in small tears and inflammation, which also affects the transmission of force and your coordination. Fascia may also press down on the nerves and cause pain. There may be a variety of reasons as to why fascia stuck together, such as a lack of movement, protective postures or psychological stress.
Fascia and Yin Yoga
Yin Yoga both prolongs and reinforces the deep layers of fascia in the body, and is often known as “yoga for the joints”. It is an exceptionally beneficial athlete’s practice, as yin yoga can improve both performance and recovery from a variety of perspectives.
Integrating yin yoga into the everyday life as an athlete is invaluable. Increased performance and longevity in athletic practice, minimized overtraining and potential injury, recovery, as well as prevention and management of different types of stress. Yin yoga also works as a tool for mental training and focus.
Yin Yoga can provide access to all parts of the body, but focuses primarily on the lower half of the body, “from navel to knee”, with great focus on lumbar, hip and thigh muscle groups. An athlete’s thigh: hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteus and IT Band are high-traffic areas used in running, surfing etc. With an average of 3-10 minutes’ rest in every yin yoga position, where we gently “melt” the fascia surrounding the muscles of these areas as well creating stronger tissues (ligaments, tendons) that can withstand more strain, yin yoga is a great tool for all athletes.
This slow and focused strategy can be surprisingly intensive and restorative at all levels.