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Anatomy & The Body
Your body is the most important vehicle you will ever own. It’s a priceless gift we were given for free, problem with free is that we oftentimes take it for granted. It's easy to assume that that we should always be healthy and pain free, since we always have been, but keep this in mind;
As long as you are alive you will be going in and out of alignment.
Learning about how the body moves and how to perform basic maintenance on your body will reduce pain and allow you to function pain free well into you later years.
It’s a relationship that you have with your body the rest of your life. When we are young the cells and mitochondria heal quickly and there is usually little reason to learn how to move since we don’t experience pain often. As we get older, cells don’t heal as efficiently. It becomes necessary to learn how to move properly and understand that our patterns of movement affect how we feel.
Like anything, learning how to use and care for your body takes time and application. It’s the kind of investment that pays off physically and financially.
Keep this in mind as you learn your body and how it moves, don’t expect mastery in a day. Approach it as a process of learning, healing and self-discovery.
Empower yourself to get to know your body; how it moves and heals itself there’s no good excuse for neglecting how to perform basic daily maintenance on your body.
The Systems of Movement
The human body is made up of 3 basic systems for movement;
1.The Muscular System
2.The Skeletal System
3.The Nervous System
They all affect one another, similar to links on a chain. It’s a chain of movement that is known as the “kinetic chain”
(kinetic = of, relating to, or resulting from motion.)
If one part of the “chain” has a problem, it can cause problems in other parts of the chain causing pain and poor movement patterns.
Basic Causes Of Pain Concerning the Kinetic Chain:
1 – Bones – Out of alignment
Causes: Injury, tight/weak muscles, overuse in poor movement patterns
2 – Nerves – Pinched due to tight muscles or impacted joints, tight Fascia creating sticky nerve endings
Causes: Injury, tight/weak muscles, bones out of alignment, no self maintenance restoring fascia health, poor movement patterns
3 – Muscles & Soft Tissues – Chronic tightness, Joint pain, Headaches, stiffness
Causes: Overworked, no self maintenance, poor environment ( hydration, nutrition, sleep, stress, etc), not able to get a continuous supply of fresh blood, oxygen, poor movement patterns
We can’t do much to change how our bones and nerves are shaped, but we do have control over the skeletal muscles and soft tissues surrounding them. We can reduce pain and make big improvements in how we move and maintain our bodies by being aware of how we move, strengthening our muscles and performing daily basic maintenance.
The amazing thing about our bodies is how dynamic they are. They can heal, adapt and improve constantly. They can be restored back to a normal state of function making pain and poor movement patterns little alarm systems letting us know what needs attention.
It's All Connected
Its called a movement chain for good reason. Each part is connected to and impacts the other parts. The system all works together like a beautifully complex machine, with each system having purpose and benefit.
The bones regulate hormones and hold the structure in place, the nerves fire and get things turned on and working and the muscles contract to produce force and movement.
For movement, the body acts like a system of levers and pulleys, As one part of the body moves and shortens the opposite areas will pull and lengthen.
You can’t lengthen without contraction from the opposite muscle. (*See Picture*)
An example of this is a common unhealthy movement pattern; Prolonged Sitting.
Sitting at your desk for long periods of time, your hip flexors shorten while your glutes lengthen. Extend that over a period of time without correcting the pattern will lead to pulling the bone structure of the hips forward in turn pulling on your lower back and causing pain or dysfunction.
This can also mat down and stick the nerves to the muscles so when attempting movement or exercise nerve pain is often common along with lower back pain.
In essence the shortening and neglect of muscles in the front of the hips, leads to a compromised bone structure and dysfunctional nerve system causing common pain. Bad news
Good News: Simply lengthening the front of the hips through rolling and stretching along with shortening the glutes through exercise and rolling on the muscles of the glutes and surrounding target areas to unmat muscle and nerve tissue, is one common fix for this type of unhealthy movement pattern.
Respecting how the system is connected and moves as a whole empowers you to take charge of your own self maintenance and fix muscle and joint pains.
Fascia - Your Path To Pain Free Movement
The X Factor in healthy movement and self care is the connective tissue found throughout our bodies called fascia (pronounced: faa-sh-yuh); A major system of fibrous connective tissue we’re learning more about in recent years and how it directly relates to movement, and more importantly pain free movement.
Fascia or myofascia is the dense fibrous tissue which surrounds and covers all of your muscles, nerves, organs, joints and soft tissue structures. The outer fascial covering is incredibly strong and extremely flexible. In fact, it has the tensile strength of over 2000 pounds. That's stronger than steel!
It’s what supports and ties us all together, helps maintain good posture, range of motion and flexibility. It also give our body tremendous strength and helps us deal with stress and injuries.
In a healthy state, fascia is very organized and flexible and resembles a spider web or fish net. It may be easier to imagine fascia as a complete body suit that runs from the top of the head to the bottom of your toes, surrounding all major moving parts in the body and all connected. The entire body is connected to every other part of the body by fascia, similar to yarn in a sweater. A continuous weave of bio material. And, like a snag in a sweater, damage to an area of fascia has an affect on other distant areas of your body, even years later.
To put it simply, It’s like an interconnected web found throughout the body that protects, attaches, separates, or stabilizes the majority of the things inside of your body; muscles, nerves, organs, joints & soft tissue structures.
First found underneath the skin, fascia is made up mostly of collagen, similar to tendons (connectors of muscle to bone) and ligaments (connectors of bone to bone) that can become stiff and “plastic like” to protect the nerves and support repetitive movement or sticky when exposed to stress and strain.
The role of fascia as it wraps nerves is to provide a fluid, moveable, and protective shield around the nerves. Under normal circumstances, nerves are supposed to be able to slide approximately 1 cm as the body moves. It is the fascial coat around the nerves that allows this to happen.
Similar to muscles that have sliding surfaces, these surfaces act like little tunnels allowing for easy sliding back and forth ( hence: “sliding surfaces”) to support the movement we necessary. With stress or poor movement patters the fascial sheath surrounding the nerves can stick to nearby structures such as the muscle tissue, bone, joints and skin. These surfaces get “gummed” up or “sticky” and don’t move as freely. Limiting range of motion and causing pain as they pull.
Movement or lack of movement affects the state of fascia in the body. Runners will generally have more of a dense fascia in the calves to support running while People that sit most of the day will generally have “gummed up” fascia in the glutes from matting down tissue repeatedly over a long period of time.
If these “tunnels” and tissues are sticky and matted down, imagine what happens to the tissues and joints as you begin exercise without restoring elasticity.
Unhealthy, tight fascia leads to limited movement patterns, which leads to dysfunction, which leads to pain. Unsticking the fascia and restoring the sliding surfaces ability to function smoothly frees up tissues to move more efficiently.
The good news is the body naturally wants to be healthy and we can restore fascia to its normal healthy state through a process called myofascial release. We will go over this more in depth in the "Why It Works" Section.
Create Your Self-Maintenance Tool Kit
To perform self care and myofascial release, you'll want to have the right tools to start creating your mobility toolkit. Think of this "tool kit" as having everything you need to do basic maintenance on your body and to eliminate pain and improve movement.
It's a good idea to think about having a self maintenance kit at home, office or at the gym. Having durable, portable mobility tools is a bonus so you can take them with you and keep your tissues healthy anywhere especially when you have a spare minute or two.
including Foam cylinders
In your Mobility Toolkit you will want different tools for different areas of the body:
Different types of surfaces and how they are applied will depend on the target area you want to mobilize.
Flat surfaces: for continuous pressure; like a foam roller, muscle stick or rolling pin;
These are a great general essential tools that can hit just about every target area of the body, but especially good for mobilizing large broad muscles.
Pinpoint surfaces: for specific targeted tissue work; like a mobility ball, mobility peanut;
Good for mobilizing the tendons in ear the elbow , ankles, and along the thoracic spine and neck , large heads of the pecs or lacrosse ball
Tread or Spiked Surfaces: Can be good for digging into fascia and getting it to unstick, especially thick dense fascia like the plantar fascia underneath the heel.
The types of surfaces of your mobility tools can also play a factor into how you free up soft tissue and tight muscles. Generally you can use any surface you prefer for mobilizing, it comes down to a matter of preference and effectiveness, but typically we recommend a surface that has a little grip to it. With a little grip to the surface, your mobility tool can grab to the skin and work some of the fascia just underneath (between the skin and muscles) while not slipping away as you mobilize.
How Firm Should Your Tools Be:
This is also a matter of personal preference. If you are new to rolling then you may want to start with the softer surface tools as they can be less painful and more approachable.
Rolling can be uncomfortable, very similar to a deep tissue massage. So depends on your preferred level of pain. As you get used to the discomfort and start restoring elasticity to the muscles and soft tissues the discomfort should also decrease.
As you use them more and your body starts to open up and discomfort decreases, you may move up to a firmer surface.
It is not uncommon to see athletes using pvc pipes and barbells to offer the firmest of densities, but keep in mind if the body is sore from a workout or athletic activity, it may want a gentler ‘massage’ or mobility session. It is not a bad idea to have a firm AND soft addition in your mobility toolkit.
*Currently at Mobilitas we are making mostly firmer products, but as our product line expands we will be including softer variations - subscribe to our email list to stay updated on the latest product news and releases
To get started, a traditional foam roller, mobility ball and mobility peanut can hit the majority, if not all, the target areas in the body.
Consider these an investment in your health that you will use for the rest of your life.