Fascia – A Brief Introduction..

I used to work with this this silly Englishman, but turns out he knows a lot about what happens in your musculoskeletal system and may not be so silly after all!

mskrehab

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I’m sure everyone is thinking “Great, another article on how cool and amazing fascia is.” It’s so cool it’s uncool, the hipster of therapy and rehab.

The great debate today ranges from whether fascia has any relevance to our movement, to can we even produce enough force to make any changes to our fascial structure and even whether fascial restrictions influences pregnancy complications. Today we’re going to investigate a little further into the role fascia plays on our body…

What is Fascia?
Everything. Our whole body is one fascial system which surrounds our muscles like a big envelope. It surrounds your vital organs, assists your vertebrae with padding and has a thin cling film like layer around your bones.

Remember, three key points:

A) All of our structures are made from the same material
B) When we label and analyse structures (tendons, ligaments, etc) as individual, we disregard the connections…

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#JERF

I can hear the collective “What did you just call me?” but don’t worry! I’m not calling you names at all. I’m giving you all a tool to help with one of life’s more confusing and debatable questions.

What should I eat? 

To be honest – there’s so much information and advice out there that I sometimes feel overwhelmed and frustrated by it, and as a health professional I should know what I’m doing right?  I’ve sat down, thought about and even written this article more times than I’d like to admit and that just helps to illustrate even more the problem at hand.

“It’s no wonder we are all confused about what we are supposed to eat. One day we wake up and meat is bad for us. The next day, meat is good for us and is the reason we are alive today. Another day, eating low carb is great for weight loss and great for blood vessel function. Wait, low carb is not good for cardiovascular function though. But isn’t weight loss easier on a low carb diet? And isn’t weight loss good for cardiovascular function? Dammit! I’m so confused!”
Taken from – 
http://livingsuperhuman.com/what-means-jerf/

There was also a great article in The Age a week ago or so taken from The New York Times, titled Why Nutrition Is So Confusing. It’s a great read. Did you know that last year alone 44,000 articles were published on nutrition, obesity and diabetes?! No wonder we’re a bit overwhelmed!


Here’s my point of view and an explanation of JERF.

J.E.R.F. – Just Eat Real Food. 

The reason I put a # in front of it in the subject line, is it’s a term commonly used in social media posts. Do a quick search of your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feed’s and see what you come up with. A bunch of delicious looking food is what I see!

It sounds really simple, and I like to look at it in a simple way. The food you eat either makes you more healthy or less healthy. Those are your options.

So what do I eat?

“I eat real food – fresh, natural food like meat, vegetables and fruit.  I choose foods that are nutrient-dense, with lots of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, over foods that have more calories but less nutrition.  And food quality is important – I’m careful about where my meat, seafood and eggs come from, and buy organic local produce as often as possible.
This is not a “diet” – I eat as much as I need to maintain strength, energy, activity levels and a healthy body weight.  I aim for well-balanced nutrition, so I eat both animals and a significant amount of plants.  I’m not lacking carbohydrates – I just get them from vegetables and fruits instead of bread, cereal or pasta.  And my meals are probably higher in fat than you’d imagine, but fat is a healthy source of energy when it comes from high-quality foods like avocado, coconut and grass-fed beef.
Eating like this is ideal for maintaining a healthy metabolism and reducing inflammation within the body.  It’s good for body composition, energy levels, sleep quality, mental attitude and quality of life.  It helps eliminate sugar cravings and reestablishes a healthy relationship with food.  It also works to minimise your risk for a whole host of lifestyle diseases and conditions, like diabetes, heart attack, stroke and autoimmune diseases.”

Taken from – Nutrition in 60seconds from Whole9life

This isn’t about losing weight. It’s about gaining health*.

*Side effects may include losing weight 🙂


I’m sure you’ve heard the saying ‘you are what you eat’ and if you stop and think about it for a second it makes sense. Literally all the cells in your body eventually are fed in some form or another by what you put in.
Keep it simple eat real food and we’ll all be happier and healthier.

To give you an idea of what it looks like, something like this is my standard breakfast – Tomato, red capsicum, spring onion and ham sautéed, crack 3 eggs in or whisk them up for more of an omelette. Tear up some spinach on top. DELICIOUS!

There’ll be more to come on this topic in the coming weeks!

Why?

Normally I write all about things that can help YOU! and that’s how it should be, but for today only I’d like to talk about me 🙂 More specifically, I’ll give you an insight into why I do what I do. I think it’s important that you know why you do what you do, as when times get tough you can sit back and reflect on it (that’s not to say you can’t have a day where you don’t enjoy it!).

Although I never had a lightbulb moment when it comes to my choice of career, I’m very clear on reflection of why I do this.

Some of you may know that my sporting background is swimming. With swimming, comes up to 10 in the water training sessions a week (yes, at ridiculous hours in the morning), 3 or so in the gym and for me; countless hours in and out of physio clinics having treatment on my shoulders.

I had cortisone injections into both shoulder joints along the way and can’t really recall a time in the couple of years prior to retiring that I didn’t have to put up with some sort of pain. It was a major factor in my decision to hang up the goggles and speedos at the grand old age of 22.

Basically I don’t want other people to have to go through what I went through. I want to see you doing the things you love and want to do, without having to worry about your back or knee or whatever it is that’s causing you pain getting in the way

Now for some audience participation – What’s your why? Why do you get up and go do what you go and do? If you know the answer – great! Go and live it and let me know! If you’re not sure it’s ok! Take some time and work it out. Watch this video (its 18 minutes and worth every second). Well worth watching anytime!

Desire Lines

Ever heard the term desire lines? Nope….? Neither had I until recently!

I have adapted the following from an email I subscribe to from these guys – (excuse the language) www.thef**kitlife.com

Think about how you might be able to apply this to you daily life
On some recent travels, we stayed in a bungalow that was part of a hotel.

To get to the hotel from the bungalow, we had to take a path.

Only, the path wasn’t the quickest way to the hotel… there was a very obvious shortcut that meant stepping through a hedge and over some grass.

We nipped across this shortcut every time.
And it seemed that everyone else had too – as a path was worn.
Even recent attempts by the hotel to discourage this route (they had planted more hedge in the hedge gap) were to no avail.

Architects would call this path that we’d created a ‘desire line’: the natural path people take between one place and another.
The best architects see where the desire lines are, then build the paths there. Most don’t.

In life, most of us follow the paths created by poor architects.
Many of us don’t even know where these paths are leading, never mind whether they’re the quickest route to where we want to go.

This is a big thing, but –
– Where do you want to go?
– What’s your desire line to it?

Don’t be waylaid by others’ or your bodies dysfunctional paths or ideas, or others’ ideas on which path you should take.

Find your own. And follow that.


You can apply this in many ways to many aspects of your life….
HAVE A THINK ABOUT IT…..
NO, REALLY DO IT NOW 🙂

A desire line doesn’t necessarily mean a shortcut either. It may take a bit of work for you to lay down a new pathway through the hedge, just as it takes some work for you to strengthen a new neural pathway and develop more efficient movement patterns in your body.

Have a great weekend!

Matt

Treat yourself

Something often asked in the clinic, is what can you do at home in between treatments to keep your body supple?

There are a number of things that you can do and I’ll explain a few here –

  1. MOVE – It sounds simple (and it is), but get up off your a#$@ and move! Movement promotes more flow through the body and will help to keep it supple.
  2. HEAT – You may have heard us ask you to ‘whack some heat on it tonight’, and there’s a great reason for that. Heat increases blood flow in the area that you put it on, meaning that you increase the circulation to that specific spot. This is beneficial as it can help to flush out any build ups in that area and bring in good fresh blood to promote healing. Click here for a more detailed article on why we recommend heat.
  3. FOAM ROLLERS – I can hear you all wincing already! 🙂 Love them or hate them, foam rollers do a damn good job at replicating some of the treatment you receive in the clinic. When using a roller – slow and steady wins the race! Move it slowly along the area you are treating, maintaining a relaxed state in the muscles (as much as possible). Don’t forget to breathe! You can get one here.
  4. MASSAGE BALLS – Just like rollers, massage balls can do a great job of replicating the treatment process. Use a massage ball (or tennis/squash/golf ball) to spot target areas of tightness in your hips, lower back, upper back and shoulders. You can get them here.

All of the above are great tools to help manage any pain or stiffness you have between treatments and for general maintenance. If you feel that these tools are not helping you get where you want to, then let me know.  If you’re in Melbourne we can always run a session on how you can get the most out of your home treatment tools!

Cheers and enjoy the rest of your week!

Matt

P.S. This week we made an effort in our household to de-clutter. Here’s a reminder of a quote I shared with you back in August in my post about PNG (click here to check it out)

We collect too much of everything. If you’re not using it, viewing it, reading it, loving it, or appreciating it, maybe you should give it away, preferably to someone who will. They’ll be happy and so will you. Life is far too short to burden yourself. Lighten up, while you still can.”

Take a seat (or maybe don’t)

Are you sitting comfortably? Great, we’ll let’s get started. Most of you will be reading this either relaxing on the sofa, tucked into your work station or on your daily public transport commute. Lets dive a little further into why this could be causing you some unsuspecting problems… (or maybe you already know that it is).

I’m sure you’ve all picked up on something in the media recently (here’s one from CBS in the USA) suggesting how sitting down for long periods of time increases your chances of disease and muscular pain? Fear not, there are some easy things you can do to help prevent these issues.

To begin, let’s rewind back to your ancestors 50,000 years ago who would run, walk and jump around all day long keeping their musculoskeletal systems active and switched on. They would climb trees to hunt food and sprint after prey day after day using their body through full range of movements. Our bodies were designed for this sole reason! Compare this against the 21st century human who sits, inactive for long periods of the day whether it be at work, in the car or on the sofa, or in some cases all 3!

Sitting is an activity which does not involve much energy expenditure (obviously). Thus, your body increase glucose levels in the blood (not good) and decrease your good cholesterols. This occurs because your body believes it is in a storage phase due to the low-level activity which ultimately makes you resistant to insulin (again obviously not good). There are numerous studies being concluded with these findings and more empirical evidence is being produced too.

 

As soon as you sit down…

1. Your calorie burning reduces to 1 per minute

2. Your enzymes which break down fat decrease by 90%

3. Electrical stimulation in your legs (essential for muscular contraction) switches off.

At this point most of you are probably having a bit of a panic and thinking, “I better shake off me dusty nikes and go for a run”, only to return  10 minutes later with potentially what feels like a torn calf or sciatica or a groin pull and so on….. and most importantly, another reason to discontinue exercise.

The reason why you feel this pain is due to muscular imbalances derived from a poor postural foundation due to long periods of sitting. Once you decide to chuck the skins on and jog around the tan, your body is not balanced well enough to deal with the stresses which are placed on the muscular system. You are quite literally running before you can walk.

Lets do a test – Jump up for a moment and stand up straight. Take your hand and feel one of your hip flexors (the muscles at the front which cross the hip joint). Don’t be shy to get stuck in a little bit – I’m sure you feel that ropey and tight muscular band? The tight muscle you are feeling is pulling your hips forward and creating this muscular imbalance.

This can be applied to many areas of your body. For example, if you press into where your pectorals (the big muscle on your chest) insert in the front of the shoulder you’ll also feel plenty of tension.

With your hips constantly flexed and your arms always outstretched forward in a seated position, your brain begins to recognises this as your ‘normal’ position. As your brain is a clever piece of equipment it remembers what you do day after day. So, to help you be really really good at sitting down, it tries to put your body in a nice seated posture producing very tight, overactive hip flexors and shoulder internal rotators.

What this means for your body when you try and exert yourself, is some muscles are working too hard and others are not working enough.

All you need to do is restore balance and alter the load correctly through the musculoskeletal system! This simply results in pain-free exercise.

Get those hips and arms moving! At MMT, office workers with chronic pain due to long periods of sitting are one of our biggest client demographics. With a few pro-active lifestyle changes you can prevent such problems:

1) Move!

Don’t email Claire downstairs about lunch. Get up from your seat, use the stairs and start activating your muscles more regularly. Get a few jumping jacks on the go or march on the spot. Activation of joints and muscles prevent them from becoming dominant, stiff and glued together.

2) Get off the sofa!

Those who sit for more than 3 hours a day watching TV are 64% more likely to die from heart disease!! You sit down enough at work, don’t add to the problem away from the office.

3) Dynamic Stretching

Put your body into positions it’s not been for a long time. How many of you could squat down and get your ass to the grass without falling over?

4) SCT Release

Come in and see one of us for a treatment to melt away and loosen up your dominant areas

5) Strength Training

Activation and switching on the weak areas will counter act your imbalances by taking the load off the dominant, stressed areas.

So, are you sitting comfortably?

Ice Ice Baby

You may wonder why I’m writing about Vanilla Ice… and as much as I love an old school rap tune that’s hardly the point of this post.

One of the most common questions you ask about injuries is ‘should I put heat or ice on it’? and generally there’s a fair amount of confusion out there. I’ll try and clear up the confusion and give you my point of view.

The general view is that heat is fine for soreness but ice is necessary for injuries. Right?! You all know the R.I.C.E. principal don’t you? Rest, Ice, Compression & Elevation, it’s been drilled into you since high school or even earlier. It was even taught to me at uni not that long ago.

Before delving any further into this, here’s a short lesson on the bodies physiological response to heat and cold –

Heat has the following effect on the tissue;

  • Vasodilation, meaning your blood vessels dilate (increase in size) bringing about an increase in blood flow and therefore increase in oxygen, nutrients and white blood cells to the heated area – sounds good so far?
  • The increased blood flow speeds up the local metabolism, and enhances the removal of waste – all things you want happening as fast as possible.  
  • Increased phagocytosis (think of a group of pac men cleaning up the injured area in preparation for new tissue to be laid down). 
  • Relaxation of abnormal muscle contraction and relief of spasm – you all want this to happen, it’s one of the main reasons you have pain after an injury.
  • Decreased joint stiffness due to decreased viscosity of synovial fluid (the fluid in your joints) – the fluid is more free flowing, meaning smoother movements in the joint.

Cold has the following effects on the tissue;

  • Vasoconstriction, meaning your blood vessels constrict (decrease in size), decreasing the available blood flow. Although this may reduce some swelling it will delay the inflammatory (healing) process from starting.
  • Reduction in local metabolism and reduced ability to clear the area of waste.
  • Reduction in muscle contractility – your muscles have less ability to contract (move). Movement is an important part of healing as it promotes flow through the area. 
  • Increases the viscosity of synovial fluid (it doesn’t flow smoothly), which in turn leads to slower, stiffer movement in the joints. 

Now apply those principles to injured tissue in your body; would you want to put ice on and slow down the the bodies natural healing response or apply some heat and accelerate the process?

So what does that mean to the aforementioned R.I.C.E principal and to your self treatment at home? Let’s quote Dr. Nick DiNubile, Editor in Chief of The Physician And Sports Medicine Journal (physsportsmed.com“Seriously, do you honestly believe that your body’s natural inflammatory response is a mistake?” Your goal needs to be to improve adaptation by improving circulation, clearing congestion, and facilitating healing. Cooling your tissue down, simply doesn’t achieve this.

So give it a go. Next time you’re feeling sore or injured put some heat on it. Grab a hot water bottle, microwave a heat pack, have a hot bath or soak a towel in hot water and wrap it around your injured area. I know from recent experience that I was back up and running from a knee sprain, swelling and all in a matter of days. Although I can’t 100% say that was all the work of heat, it certainly accelerated the removal of swelling therefore enabling more movement through the knee and I believe a faster recovery than had i used ice.

This article/advice aims to to promote a discussion. There is plenty of evidence supporting both points of view and as more research becomes available we will endeavour to keep you informed. We’ll never be afraid to admit we were wrong if the evidence starts pointing the other way all of a sudden. If you’ve always done one thing and are having great results – it’s simple – keep doing it! If you’re looking for an alternative then chat to your therapist and make an informed decision.