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.
Imagine 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)
My 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.
I 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!