Besides the very effective BLACKROLL® training, fascial training can also be intensified with special fascial movements. Fascial structures cannot only be loosened, but also “strengthened”. “Strengthening the fascia” means improving the elasticity and the tear-resistance of the fascial structures and in addition also improving the ligaments’, tendons’ and joint-capsules’ capacity to store kinetic energy. According to fascia experts, these are all part of the fascial structures. This way, athletic movements become more economical, because they require less muscle energy and there is a lower risk of getting injured.
If you have ever engaged with the topic of fascial movements, you will have noticed that it is all about bouncing and rocking movements. Even when it comes to stretching, bouncing movements are allowed, because it has been found that they have a positive effect on the fascia. This shows that there really are no wrong movements. Every movement simply has to be connected to its actual goal. For example, passive stretching is aimed at the detonization and the prevention and reduction of inflammations, while active bouncing stretching is aimed at strengthening and stimulating fascial structures.
However: a distinction must be made. Bouncing is not always the same as bouncing and jumping is not always the same as jumping! In order to really activate fascial structures, there are some details you will have to take into account while jumping and bouncing.
To reach the fascia in the best way possible, it takes maximum pre-stretching, many changes of vectors and mini bounces (pictures by Mira Hampel in: Fascia meets muscle – Meyer & Meyer publishing company 2017)
· Schleip, R. & Baker, A. (2016). Faszien in Sport und Alltag (1.Auflage). München: riva
· Schleip, R., Findley, T., Chaitow, L. & Huijing, P. (Hrsg). (2012): Lehrbuch Faszien Grundlagen – Forschung – Behandlung (1.Auflage). München: Urban & Fischer.
BOUNCING WHILE STRETCHING
If you want to put the main focus of stretching on activating fascia, there are three important aspects to keep in mind:
1. Getting into a maximum pre-stretching position
2. Doing mini bouncing movements in this position
3. Additionally constantly making little changes of angles in order to
a) give as many different impulses as possible to the fascia (fasciae love been stretched in all directions)
b) reaching the best, individual stretching position.
It is crucial that the change of directions happens with maximum acceleration. Only this way it can be guaranteed that the fibroblasts (the cells that are responsible for the new construction of collages) are stimulated in a positive way. Sadly, this important detail is overlooked by many trainers and athletes.
SWINGING FOR FASCIAE
When it comes to swinging movements, science says that an optimization of the fascial effects is only possible with
· maximum pre-stretching
· constant change of angles
· and a maximum acceleration in the reversal of movements
However, in reality you often have to forgo many of these very challenging movements, because movement laymen or people in rehabilitation are not able to perform them. My experience and the feedback of many therapists has shown that simple swinging without acceleration can already have an outstanding effect on the movability, the pain perception and the general mood. Personally, these effects are more important to me than the question whether this can be traced back to fasciae.
Which brings us to another, not yet scientifically explained observation. The combination of blackroll training and fascial swinging and stretching with or without small tools has the most positive effects. That is my “7 years long-term observation” after over 400 courses!
Generally, one can say: If you want to give tendons, ligaments and joint capsules a positive impulse, you need to regularly hop and jump. There a differences in the execution and the effects on the muscles and fascia. Slow jumping with big changes of angles in the knee joint and a long contact time with the ground trains the slow twitch fibres and the collagenous muscle skin. If you jump at a faster pace with less change of angles in the knee joint (remaining stiff) and short contact time with the ground, bouncing right up again, you will train the fast twitch fibres as well as the tendons, ligaments and joint capsules.
The speed and the stiffness of the execution are therefore crucial, depending on which structures you want to reach. As always, it needs to be noted that every form of training trains both muscles and fasciae. We only differentiate between a more muscle focused and a more fascia focused training and it is the small but noticeable differences in how we move that make the difference.
In our book Fascia meets muscle- Meyer & Meyer publishing company 2017, as well as in our e-learning program in cooperation with the company ARTZT, Lamar Lowery, personal trainer and functional training expert, presents many classic, functional exercises with small tools, which I change in a way that shifts the focus more on to fascial structures.