I am not a big believer in the need to know the names of muscles, because I think people can get caught up in the name and fail to place the importance on where a muscle connects. The point where a muscle connects that is most central to the body is called its origin and the connection at the other end, furthest from the center of the body, is its insertion. If we consider a simple muscle that has only these two points, origin and insertion (unlike many skeletal muscles which have multiple connections), and apply the understanding that a muscle can only contract, then we know that activation of that muscle must bring those two points closer together. Sometimes one point holds and the other moves, sometimes the movement is limited by an opposing muscle and sometimes they both move, but that muscle's contraction can only work to pull those two points closer to each other.
The next thing to understand about a muscle is that a skeletal muscle contains lots of different muscle fiber types. From maximal force production to fatigue resistance, these fiber types have different capabilities and a mix of them enables a muscle to meet a greater range of demands. And, since the body is designed to adapt, the demands placed on the muscle will determine the fibers that the muscle develops.
This is not new information because it is how we experience our bodies. That said, it doesn’t stop the surprising soreness a person who has been resistance training for months has when they spend a few hours gardening and say things like “I thought I was in better shape!” There is some crossover, but the body is extremely good at efficient adaptation. If all you ask of your muscles is to be able to walk for 20 minutes, then you can probably stand for 20 minutes, but squats even just with bodyweight may be too far outside of the crossover window.
The specificity of adaptation is even so exact that there are studies demonstrating that strength gains of a muscle that is trained within a few degrees of a 90 degree angle (imagine doing a bicep curl with your elbow staying at roughly the same bend) will only get stronger within that range and slightly outside of it. The rest of the muscle will not get the benefit.
This genius adaptation enables the body to perform at maximum efficiency, but in our modern day leisurely lifestyle where Calories are plentiful, efficiency does not always seem helpful. In fact, it can seem like the body is actively working against you. But in actuality it is just trying to give you what you want in the easiest possible way.
So, what goals do you have for your body? You can list power, endurance, size/appearance, etc., just know that each may require a different dedication of time and effort. Applying realistic limits of time and effort is where most start to prioritize goals. The goal of the moment is also a great way to keep yourself engaged with your program and, thus, provide some variety to your lifelong fitness training.
As always, let me know how I can help.
Resistance. What does it mean? In the world of EQUIVITA, we often use it in the form of "the impeding, slowing, or stopping effect exerted by one material thing on another", in relation to resistance bands and those damned external rotations. While this is typically our approach, a lot of folks out there utilize resistance training in their lives and workouts. The resistance bands try to slow or impede the movement(s) we are asked to go through, which helps build strength and muscle. The bands actually cause microscopic tears in the muscle tissue, which are typically healed quickly by the body, and cause the muscles to grow stronger, or have more tone. Resistance training can also mean increasing your muscle's endurance, meaning that they may be able to put up with those damned external rotations for even more reps!! How great is that?!!
How does this relate to massage? Can it relate to massage? I think yes, in a couple of ways, one of which may be a little more abstract than the other. First, we know massage can help with increasing blood flow and helping to diminish the effects of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness-that post workout sore that you get that makes it hard going up or down stairs. By getting a massage after a workout, we can help flush out the old fluids that are in the muscle tissues, and rehydrate them with new nutrients, blood and water. Because we help bring in new nutrients with massage, it can also help those little tears we get from resistance training heal faster! This all works together to help our bodies function a bit better, and create strength.
Another definition of resistance is "the refusal to accept or comply with something; the attempt to prevent something by action or argument". This is where the more abstract idea of resistance comes in to play. For some of us this won't be as abstract, but for others, it can be. What do I mean by this? What I mean is simply this: I have had many people say to me that they "just aren't massage people". I understand this to a certain degree, and while I may have been in that category for a time in my life, it was mostly because I hadn't tried massage before. The reason I bring this more abstract resistance up is because I often hear conversations or read articles about folks having pain in their bodies, whether from injury, surgery, or they've just moved wrong. I almost always want to ask if they've tried to get a massage! If I am able to ask, I sometimes get the "I'm not a massage person" response, which almost always leads me to asking "why?". As a professional who has been in the massage industry for close to 20 years, the science behind it makes sense to me, and, if someone will give me the chance, I will try to help them understand it by having a conversation with them.
In my mind there are a couple of major reasons why someone doesn't choose massage. One is that they've never had it before, and they don't know what to expect. The second one is that the person thinks that it will just "work itself out" and they will be fine...eventually. What if we could be more open to massage, and not as resistant to it, and the benefits that it can have? I'm a big fan of being more proactive with our health care, and helping people learn about ways they can take control of how they care for their bodies.
I love what I do and want to share it as much as I can, so, if I can help folks perhaps become less resistant to massage as a part of their health care, then perhaps they may be able to enjoy their resistance training even more.
If it matters to you that you feel strong, and know that you can have a strong body, then I want you to understand that a portion of the powers of strength lie in your ability to engage tension and force through your muscles. The other portion of your strength lies in your ability to guide tension and force through your fascia.
All the limbs of EQUIVITA study and apply work that supports muscle, and all the limbs of EQUIVITA study and support work that supports fascia, that’s how much it matters.
Fascia is called the organ of form. It is essentially fibers--either stiff like collagen, or bendy like elastin and reticulin--combine with "jelly" or glue that binds these fibers together and serves to lubricate them from friction, and the water that supports the cellular health of the fibers and the glue, allowing it to remodel. The recipe of fiber, glue, and water presents in various states of density throughout every muscle, organ, joint or bone in your body. Fascia when it is made up of jelly and bendy fiber it provides the structure of webby tissue like you pull off the chicken meat. When fascia is more collagen fiber and less jelly, it will be of a stiffer structure, like in a ligament or tendon. Finally water to fascia is like blood to muscle, it travels into the cells of fascial glue to bring them nourishment, and keep them pliable.
Those who have trained with me, often hear me talk about taking care of their "catsuit" on occasion. We aim to keep it pliable and responsive, versus kinked/coiled up and braced out.
Practices that support fascial fitness are still being realized, because the tissue is in the earlier stages of our understanding. According to Tom Myers, founder of Anatomy Trains, there are 4 markers of movement designed to train fascia.
● Buoyant movement, which seeks to support or even gain elasticity with your body's tendons, and fascial net. Movement like bouncing from foot to foot very lightly for a couple minutes.
● Preparing a windup movement before a movement. An example Myers uses is the windup before a pitch.
Programing variation in movement over repetitive movement:
● Constructing whole body movements that change in position with gravity, change in tempo and change in amount of load.
● Constructing adaptive movement courses, like parkour, dance, and some yoga sequences. A mix up of movement, not like isolated predictable movements of lifting for muscles using weights or machines.
Programming that addresses the complex sensory feedback of fascia and best supporting its ability to provide communication/feedback to the body:
● Whereas muscle has spindle fibers that measure length change, fascia has 10 different receptors that relay a variety of programming feedback. If you have ever used fascial rolling to loosen up, you may recall that there are ways to compress fascia to release tension, ways to shear pressure the fascia to move tension, ways to "wring" it out and so forth.
● Therefore shaking a body part before balancing through it--like a leg--wakes up the receptors and gives greater voluntary engagement between the limb and the user. Rolling an area not only loosens it, but prepares it for higher quality communication with its user.
As with any living tissue, how we use it sometimes gets us into spaces of tension we have a hard time shifting. When fascia is restricted it has lost some of its elastic behavior, and it’s ability to self-hydrate. Instead of being bendy it takes on the expression of rigid and held. Strength withheld. In subsequent articles we will focus on how myofascial release techniques, realized through self treatments and delivered from our expert fascial focused massage therapists, and the breath work delivered by Carla in her yoga teaching, can help shift states of braced out, tense fascia.
For now, get back to training and look for more fascial movement sharing from me in the future!
Of course, if you have any questions, I always encourage you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In good health,
Fascial Fitness Training in the Neuromyofascial Web.
With the weather turning, I don’t know about you, but I’m slowly getting into a more comfy, cozy mood rather than a get-out-and-go mood. I’ve started doing more HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts in my living room which help me get my cardio in, but it also works with my own body weight to give me a good resistance workout. I like to mix it up, alternating between a handful of different HIIT workouts each week. One of my most hated (and thus favorite) move that I’ve been integrating is a jump squat (jumping up from a controlled squat). This, in addition to a myriad of other moves, is helping work muscles that I don’t typically get to work when I’m just running or lifting since they require me to balance myself and produce enough force to get myself from one position to the other. Let’s be honest, there’s not a whole lot of jumping I do on a regular basis!
I know HIIT workouts are typically talked about when discussing cardio exercise, but they can make for great resistance workouts as well. Free weights, such as kettlebells and barbells, and bands can be added if more resistance is desired. I’m not personally there yet, but I’m working on it! HIIT workouts are also a perfect way for me to get a healthy 30 minute exercise in on a busy day. And as usual, don’t forget proper form/posture!