A guest post from my good friend and colleague, Dr. Thomas Lam of Fits Toronto
After the first talk by Robert Schleip I could have left and felt very satisfied with attending the conference. WOW. But I’m so glad I didn’t! This conference helped solidify some thoughts and completely open my eyes for a new ways of thinking. Without question there are way too many highlights to write about in a single blog post. So I’ll write about my TOP 8 Highlights. Originally I was going to post highlights of each speaker, but because there were many commonalties between the talks I’ll instead write about the major highlights echoed throughout the conference.
A special "thank you" needs to be delivered to Dr. Glen Harris (MSK Plus) and Dr. Wilbur Kelsick (Maxfit Movement Institute) for making this conference happen! I’m so happy that I attended that I’ve already sent my RSVP for the 3rd International Fascia Research Congress.
TOP 8 highlights:
1) Our Anatomy is WRONG! Open any text book and you’ll see clearly defined muscles, tendons, nerves and blood vessels. Each tissue can be clearly seen. But where’s the fascia? Fascia is our tendons, ligaments, and all of our collagenous connective tissue that connect all our structures in our body into a single body. Forget about your knee bone is connected shin bone. The reality is more like your knee bone is connected to your ear!
2) You might not be stretching what you’re stretching? Based on the organization of fascia, Vleeming researched the strain transmission that occurs with a straight leg raise. Incredibly the iliotibial band and the lumbar fascia compared with strain to the hamstrings is 240% and 145% respectively. This occurs because fascia is multi-directional and a large portion of the strain that occurs during a straight leg raise is transmitted laterally. To further illustrate this check out Plantar Fascia Magic.
3) BRAIN POWER – Separate the forest from the trees. Our brain is the central processing center of our body. There are over 80,000 sensory inputs per second that enter our brain that must be processed to formulate and make fine adjustments to our movements. Note I didn’t say proper movement. Developing sound movement patterns takes time, based on deliberate training principles that address key movement qualities. This is without question the Forest. It’s the big picture that we must always address. It’s the key factor that determines injury rates and sport performance. The forest is made up of many components, but they are the details. Some details are more important than others. In this analogy fascial issues range in how they impact our ability to perform movement. Some fascial problems would be large trees, but some would be like a shrub, others could be like a blade of grass.
But never mistake that it’s how we process and develop our movements that determines injuries and performance. This concept is surprising lost. Many health care professionals focus on the details beautifully but miss the big picture – THE FOREST. We must always aim to improve our movement qualities by address the most effective and efficient detail.
4) Running Shoes and Orthotics – WOW! I really have to think about the implication shoes and orthotics have on injuries and athletic performance. Currently many people are subscribing to the concepts of Bare Foot Running, popularized by Born to Run (you gotta get this book – it’s amazing), Chi of Running, Pose Running, Vibrams and Barefoot Ted – just to name a few. I’ve known about this concept for a couple of years, but after reading Born to Run, attending this conference, and recently speaking with Dr. Larry Bell the merits of bare foot training are more salient than ever.
5) Stretching and Conditioning Fascia – Let’s get Crimped. There are many methods that need to be integrated to effectively condition our fascial system. Yoga by itself is not enough, nor is strength training. Yes strength training is important to condition your tendons and ligaments. In fact, the tendons of those that don’t strength train lose their elasticity and tensile strength properties. If you examined their tendons compared with a well trained athlete you’ll see that their tendons are straight compared to crimped. You really want crimped tendons because those have enhanced elastic properties. These properties aid in elastic recoil and you become faster and more explosive.
Stretching and flexibility have long been known to help with fascia pliability, but they are not enough. Based on the multi-directional layout of fascia (see point 2) we need not only spiral patterns to address the multi-directional layout of fascia but we need active muscular contraction combined with spiral patterns to address all fascia bands. I’ve been playing with this concept for some time with end-range oscillation techniques.
6) STRETCH ONE HOUR BEFORE COMPETITION. Research on stretching and power has made many afraid of stretching. But there may be more to add to this picture and it might change the minds of many strength and conditioning professionals about stretching. While stretching squeezes out matrix hydration, which contributes to the decrease in subsequent force production, after 1 hour we see a supercompensation of matrix hydration which enhances force and power production. This means if we stretch one hour prior to competition we’ll be in a heighted state of elasticity! Gymnasts have been utilizing this approach for years and the common ancient practice of wetting a rope repeatedly to raise an Obelisk further illustrates this power property of water and mechanical properties.
For those of you as curious as myself as to what an obelisk was
7) We’re ANTELOPES! We have the same elastic properties as an Antelope! Elasticity is the ability to use energy. We’ve talked about this process at length in our four part series about Reactiveness and Stiffness. This ability is a huge quality we develop at FITS and its mind blowing to learn that we have the same elastic properties as an Antelope bounding in the African Saffana.
8) THE SAIL AND MAST – Mechanoreceptors in our superficial layer of fascia are our most abundant and perhaps our most sensitive prioprioceptors. I’ve been taught that our self-awareness of our bodies in space (prioprioception) is based on the integration of information from our eyes, vestibular apparatus (housed in our ears), and joint mechano-receptors. Interestingly, research has shown that joint mechano-receptors are active near to end range. But what happens in between???? It appears that mechanoreceptors in our skin are in the perfect position to serve this function. The analogy that Dr. Schleip used was a sail and mast. While the mast only moves slightly the sail is incredible sensitive to changes in the wind.
BONUS!! “Any hockey player that becomes concussed will have a hip or hernia problem” – Mark Lindsay
Thanks for reading… I look forward to exploring these concepts in more depth in the near future stay tuned.
In the meantime here are some great resources regarding fascia. This list is by no means complete.
Robert Schleip. This website is easily the most well linked site on fascia. The amount of great content about fascia is staggering. If you’re interested in learning about fascia you MUST CHECK THIS SITE OUT: http://www.somatics.de/somatics.html
Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. The journal is a great resource for healthcare practitioners. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/13608592
Fascia Research Project. This site highlights the amazing research being conducted out of Ulm University. http://www.fasciaresearch.com/
3rd International Fascia Research Congress. http://www.fasciacongress.org/2012/
Stretch to win. I really like this technique. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Ann and Chris Frederick and they’re amazing. This is a great approach that integrates many proprioceptive neuromuscular techniques from all around the world. http://www.stretchtowin.com/
Rolfing. While I don’t understand too much about Rolfing I’ve met some great Rolfers who have really changed my thinking so I believe there is a lot to learn from them and their techniques. http://www.rolfing.org/
Carrick Institute for Clinical Neurology. I know of three great health care practitioners (Dr. Mark Linsay and Sam Gibbs) that are enrolled in this program and I’m most likely going to enrol shortly. http://www.carrickinstitute.org/
Thanks, Dr. Lam!