Muscles and Fascia
by Ashley Black
Your guide to how fascia affects muscle performance
As you probably know by now, fascia is a connective tissue found all throughout the body that interacts with virtually every system, including the muscular system. Due to structural imbalances, injuries, and day–to–day wear and tear, the fascia can recoil and adhere in an attempt to support the body and keep your structure upright. The problem is that tight, restricted fascia can compress the muscles, blood vessels, and nerves, and have negative repercussions in the body that can result in tension, pain, restriction, and dysfunction, as well as affect your muscle performance and access. One of the many benefits of treating your fascia with the FasciaBlaster® is that it can help you to release this tightness and restore the fascia to its healthy state, which will help improve your muscle’s ability to properly function and condition.
If you’ve been hitting the gym attempting to build the body of your dreams and have found some areas are lagging no matter how many pushups, squats, and lunges you do, it may be due to one or more of these factors:
1. Tight, unhealthy fascia is strangling your muscles, nerves, and blood flow
2. Improper body mechanics interfering with muscle recruitment (activation)
3. Other muscles are compensating for the weak or strangled muscles causing imbalance, restriction, and strain
4. You are lacking the proper nutrition or protein to build muscle
Here is how to address each of these factors:
1. Fascia Release
By loosening and opening the fascia with the FasciaBlaster®, you allow the fascia to release and “ungrip” the blood vessels, muscle fibers, and nerves. The blood will be able to flow more freely and transport nutrients to the skin and cells, the muscles will be able to contract, relax, and stretch without restraint, and the nerve signals will be able to function better.
Look at your right quad and squeeze it as hard as you can. Do you feel the entire top of your thigh contract from your knee to your hip bone? Are you able to hold the contraction? Do you see the muscle definition and cuts when you flex?
If you answered no to any of these questions, your thigh muscles may be “fascia bound”, meaning they’re constricted by tight fascia and the muscles are not able to properly contract.
When you contract your quad, does your knee feel tight or painful? Do your lower legs twitch, cramp, or try to “pull”? Is your calf muscle trying to fire or compensate? Does your foot try to turn in or out?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, your lower legs are most likely “fascia bound” as well, and it’s causing tension, restriction, and improper alignment that will eventually lead to pain and more serious issues.
Sound dramatic? That’s the simplified version of just some of the performance issues tight fascia can cause. You can read about the cellulite, wrinkles, fat pockets, bad posture, and sports injuries it can cause you in these other articles.
2. Body Mechanics and Posture
Maintaining proper posture and spine and pelvis positioning will ensure you can effectively perform the exercises and contract the muscles you’re trying to target. But before trying to perfect the way you “move” your structure, first focus on learning to stand with the correct posture. This article details the proper way to align your structure and correct your posture throughout all movement.
In this video, one of our users demonstrates how she performs targeted glute activation exercises with slow, controlled movements and proper posture for maximum muscle contraction. She stabilizes and aligns her structure, contracts her transverse abs, uses a counter top to ensure her pelvis stays neutral, and squeezes her glutes throughout each repetition. This is an example of how to effectively activate your muscles and strengthen the mind to body connection.
3. Muscle Conditioning and Activation
Now that the fascia is open and you’ve corrected your posture and mechanics, it’s time to condition and strengthen the tight, weakened muscles with some simple isometric bodyweight exercises to get the blood pumping and enhance the mind to muscle connection that will help you get the tone and definition that you’re after! Take a moment to consider that some of your muscles have been dormant for a long time because they were trapped in tight fascia; they are likely weak from lack of proper use and they need to be “woken up” to get back in shape. For that reason, we recommend performing isometric exercises after each FasciaBlasting session.
Many people confuse muscle activation with being active. While cardio and other movement is essential for your cardiovascular health, the kind of exercises we’re talking about is targeted isolation and contraction of the muscle to re-activate it. It’s not about simply completing a few repetitions of an exercise; the focus should be on the contraction or “squeeze”, which will actually flush blood and nutrients to the muscle and allow it to “fire”. That “squeeze” is where the magic happens!
Isometric exercises are a form of static strength training where a particular muscle or muscle group is contracted through long holding times. Isometrics focus on isolating and contracting individual muscle groups while anchoring the skeletal structure during movement. The contraction is meant to be an intense “squeeze and hold” that contributes to muscle growth, strengthening, and fat burning effects. When you increase the pressure within the muscle as it’s contracted, your heart rate steadily rises, nerve activity is reestablished, and blood, oxygen, and nutrients rush to the muscle fibers.
Some of the Benefits of Isometric Exercises:
✔ Strengthen and condition dormant or underused muscles
✔ Improve blood flow, which is essential for building muscle
✔ Improve mind to muscle control
✔ Improve posture and spine alignment
✔ Improve development of lean muscle
✔ Improve bone density
✔ Reduce tissue tension
✔ Improve muscle strength, endurance, and resistance
✔ Promote proprioception
✔ Increase neural connections between the brain and muscle
✔ Recruits and activates the body’s largest motor units
✔ Increases the neural drive between the motor cortex in your brain and the trained muscle
✔ Work the muscles in a static position and demand muscle tension without impact on your joints and bones
After FasciaBlasting, perform 3 to 5 sets of 5 to 10 second holds of the following isometric exercises in the areas you just treated:
Giving your body the vital nutrients and minerals it needs will contribute to your overall health, wellness, and muscle performance. Read this article to learn how nutrition and hydration affect fascia health.
If you’re looking to boost your FasciaBlasting results and overall gains, activating the correct muscles is so important! By treating your fascia in conjunction with proper biomechanics and muscle contraction, you’ll notice more fire power and you’ll start to see tone and definition in places where you could never achieve it before! Try incorporating these activation exercises into your FasciaBlasting sessions and you’ll be amazed at the results!