Stretching Tip!

Today we are going to talk about fascia and flexibility and what one simple action you can take to increase your flexibility.   Fascia-150x150

First… what is fascia?

Fascia is connective tissue that wraps and surrounds every muscle, bone, nerve and organ in the body.  It gives separation between these structures and creates a 3-dimensional, interconnected web of tissue through the body.  

Screen-Shot-2013-06-24-at-3.56.49-PM-150x150Imagine an orange or grapefruit that you’ve taken the outmost skin off of.  If you could magically make the juice disappear from inside white fibrous webbing that’s left is the fascia.  It’s almost impossible to separate the fascia and muscle, for example.  That is why a lot of practitioners talk about the myofascia.  Myo for muscle and fascia for … well fascia.  Some of you may have experience a myofascial massage that focuses on releasing fascial pulls.  

What most people don’t know is that fascia is composed primarily of water – approximately 70%. The other 30% is compoased of collagen and elastin and proteoglycans, which are proteins and carbohydrates.  

But what we are concerned with for now is the high water content. Healthy fascia is gel-like and flexible.  It should compress easily and effortless helping the muscles it is attached to do the same. Soft, flexible fascia allows the body to move freely.   

If you can release tightness in the fascia you can improve your flexibility – no matter what your age!

I learned a new fact this summer. It takes approximately 6 weeks of appropriate hydration to have the body become fully hydrated. Six weeks!  Wowza….

I know what I’ve done in the past… been very diligent about drinking enough water for a few days or a week and then fell off the wagon because the weekend rolled around or had a busy day or 101 other excuses.  Once I read the research that it takes time and patience to rehydrate your body I became dedicated and COMMITTED to drinking water and dropped all juice and most other beverages out of my daily life. 

Of course – personal experiences are always powerful and I can say without a doubt that I was not fully hydrated even though I was aware (some would say even preaching) about of the importance of water.  An article by Dr. Mercola, really reminded me that the quality of the water we drink is also important.  (You can click here to read it) 

spine-copy-150x150My lower back is much less achey which I believe is because the discs between my lower vertebra may have been less hydrated, and needed to be plumped up.  My stretching efforts are beginning to improve when they haven’t in the past 5 years of so – I had blamed aging for my decreased flexibility. 

Research shows that your lungs, heart get first dibs on any available water sources (as it should be) and then brain, joints, fascia, muscle, etc. etc. are lower down on the hierarchy of water needs.  

Brain-fog-150x150I always tell my students that they need to hydrated before taking a test because if
you are only 6% dehydrated you can decrease mental functioning by about 20%.  So when the mental fog hits – drink water!  

Now there are lots of other benefits to drinking water but this article is specifically about stretching and improving it.  So… bottom line?

You know what is coming…. drink more water and less other beverages that don’t hydrate your body or even dehydrate it (like sodas and coffee) 

Be patient… be committed… and let me know how your fascia and muscle flexibility improves with just this one action!  Ask your students how much water are they drinking and then don’t be satisfied with the answer ‘a lot’.  Ask them to keep track of their water intake for at least a couple of weeks so they know what the baseline of 8 -8 oz. glasses of water a day is.  If they are working out or sweating a lot or over 150 pounds that 64oz/day will increase.  

To your good health and dancing success!



6 replies
  1. Kaija
    Kaija says:

    Deborah, I follow your work and respect you as a dance educator. However, I was dismayed to see that you linked to Dr. Mercola as a source and an article that was full of made-up “facts” unsupported by science. Mercola is know as a marketing shill and internet huckster. Water is water as long as it is safe to drink. In the US, your municipal water supply is tested daily and must pass higher standards than bottled water. There is no such thing as “alkanized water” or alkanizing the body; the body maintains its own pH buffering system, which is necessary for all biological functions. As a scientist, people who misuse, twist, and tell lies about science and physiology offend me. Please reconsider giving any credence to so-called “experts” like Mercola.

    • deborah
      deborah says:

      Hi Kaija,
      Thank you for your comment. It’s so important for everyone to do their own research and decide on what’s right for them and I appreciate and respect your opinion!
      Best, Deborah

  2. TJ Thompson
    TJ Thompson says:

    Because Mercola is marketing products doesn’t mean his information is necessarily erroneous.
    Scientists have come to wrong conclusions from data as well, i.e. margarine is healthy food……

  3. Ronald Lavine, DC
    Ronald Lavine, DC says:

    Thanks for this intriguing article, Deborah. I checked out the link to the Mercola article and I wasn’t too impressed. But you also say “research shows that the lungs and heart get first dibs on the water you drink”. Do you have a reference for that? That would be useful.

    • deborah
      deborah says:

      I need to be more careful on my wording, Ron. F. Batmanghelidj’s book, Your Body’s Many Cries for water influenced me many years ago. Here is a link with some facts taken from his book.

      When I was working with Dr. Bachrach, I saw some back problems caused by narrowing of the discs improve significantly once they became better hydrated. I will be more careful with how I state these facts as I can’t find a specific piece of research stating that lungs and heart get first dibs on available water – it might be in Dr. Batmanghelidj’s book – but it does make sense to me that those organs have to be kept in working order much more so than discs and joints..

  4. Ronald Lavine, DC
    Ronald Lavine, DC says:

    That link you provided has lots of interesting stuff. It does make sense that the body would partition the water according to the most critical needs – maintaining blood volume and osmolality, for instance. It will take me a while to work through all of the information that’s there, though.


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