Living in a big, wet web!!

I want to delve a little bit more into the world of fascia but also into its link to our nervous system and my thoughts on it.
I like to simplify the way I talk about fascia to people (unless you’ve caught me on a good day when I bleat on about it endlessly until I’m told to stop!) So here is how I think you might be able to relate a bit better to what fascia is partly about.
If you try to imagine a huge fluid spiders web then you will come close to what your superficial fascia resembles. Remember that fascia isn’t just superficial (on the surface) it is in every part of us, cells, bones, muscles etc etc. But rather than throw all that stuff at you I thought it best to start with the stuff nearest the surface.
So when your spiders web is nice and juicy (don’t you just love this word) and fluid , you are juicy and fluid. But when parts of your web start to dry out then your ability to be juicy and fluid reduces. So rather than think about muscles individually , lets think about muscles moving within this fluid, juicy web. They move well when you are fluid and so as a result do the joints that the muscles move. So imagine if you have areas of dehydrated tissue within that spiders web, it follows that the muscles won’t perform well without the fluidity and so compensations will start to occur and they, over time will produce “sudden chronic pain” and poor joint stability. So by hydrating our fascia we help to keep our fascia fluid and juicy and also our muscles.
If we want to look at this slightly closer then think of it like this; the thing that alters our stability and produces compensation mostly is stress. You might think that stress is produced by the mind, but it is our bodies that endure, manage and absorb stress. Over time that stress gets trapped and accumulates in our bodies, in particular our connective tissue.
How do you know if your stability system is overloaded? Remember the last article where I mentioned pre pain signals (many times!), well that’s how we know. Things such as waking up feeling stiff, like a dried out sponge. Low back or neck ache, joint stiffness especially after sitting for long periods of time. You may recall from the last article in MELT this is referred to as Stuck stress. Left unaddressed this can result in ever more noticeable symptoms such as , chronic tension, compression in the neck or low back, a sense of hypermobility in the joints, the urge to crack your joints, prolonged muscle soreness after exercise and a propensity to stress injuries. These are common symptoms. And sadly this is when people start to pop pills to help. You may also notice things that you wouldn’t relate to connective tissue such as , inflammation, anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, digestive problems, lack of energy. The list goes on. And so again people tend to turn to pharmaceuticals. This to me is the body crying out for help, for you to notice that stuff isn’t right. Of course, you should always rule out disease. And when you have done that and still can’t find answers consider your connective tissue.
A favourite saying in the fitness world is “you can’t out train a bad diet”. And it’s true. So many people I know think that by training hard they can justify the sugar or the alcohol or the salty snacks. But answer me this, how do you feel after these “pick me ups?” Do you feel uplifted and energised for hours after? I suspect not. All of this contributes to stress in our systems. You may not feel bad right now but what you do now is an investment in what comes later, so is it really worth thinking “I feel fine so this cake and cocktail aren’t doing me any harm!” Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but what about next year?
That leads me onto the Parasympathetic and Sympathetic nervous systems and the role they play. Think of the Sympathetic system as the Stress regulator and the parasympathetic system as the restore regulator. And we can add in here the gut which is known as the enteric system which is the gut regulator.
So the Sympathetic system increases heart rate, perspiration and pupil dilation in response to what it perceives as incoming stress. The parasympathetic system relaxes these functions to restore these to maintain internal balance.
Let’s use the classic angry bear analogy here. I think most of you know this one. Many moons ago we needed to be able to respond quickly to threats to our lives. So if an angry bear approached we need the sympathetic system to give us the tools to either stand and fight or run away. We rarely meet an angry bear these days and so we now have a different perception of stress. A client or customer who is cross and ranting at you causes you stress, a phone call with someone with makes you angry, or partner or child leaving a mess when you’ve just tidied up. All these things tend to switch on our sympathetic system and so we are spending far too long in what is known as “sympathetic dominance”. And our bodies are suffering as a result. By using MELT as a self care tool, we can, through sequences like rebalance, calm our sympathetic nervous system and restore the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. In fact rebalance is a really good sequence to do half an hour before bed if you are feeling out of balance.
Only when the restore regulator is functioning efficiently can intuition, healing cell renewal and REM sleep, among other functions occur.
So as you are the only one who literally HAS to live with you, why not work with yourself to make it a mutually beneficial relationship.

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