If you are an athlete, a runner, or a sports enthusiast…
If you love outdoor activities, enjoy walking to explore the city, or take pleasure in hiking…
If you have a sedentary lifestyle and tight shoulders, but place a high value on health…
You should befriend your fascia!
Fascia is the layer of fibrous connective tissue located beneath the skin that attaches and wraps your muscles. Similar to ligaments and tendons, fasciae are crucial to your mobility and stability and reduce friction between muscles as they glide over each other (Faller et al. 127). What’s more, fascial tissues are supplied with sensory nerve endings, thereby playing an important role in proprioception: the sense that enables you to feel your body parts and their positions.
Too abstract for something hidden beneath your skin? To underscore the significance of fascial health, Brooke Thomas, a coach specialized in rehabilitation, draws an analogy between fasciae and the inner infrastructure of an orange. Groups of muscle cells are wrapped together by muscle fascia, just like the “individually wrapped pods of juice” of orange that burst to feed our taste buds with sweet and sour. Without its “fascia,” an orange will lose its sturdiness and well-supported infrastructure.
Structure of a Skeleton Muscle
In fact, that’s how our fasciae work. Together, they construct a supportive infrastructure for our muscles and facilitates body movement. However, things can go wrong if our fascial tissues are not treated well. Tom Myers, the author of Anatomy Trains, explains the mechanisms behind the development of fascial problems that impose a limit on our mobility and resilience as we engage in physical exercise.
People usually feel their body less flexible as they age. The loss of muscle-muscle and -bone flexibility can largely be attributed to the diminishing springiness of the fascial tissues. Just like what happens as time takes away the firmness of one’s face while youth withers, collagen, also an essential component of fascial tissues, drains away from our body infrastructure. Collagen loss eventually results in crispy, stiff fasciae that impair our mobility.
Why are mobility and flexibility important for me?
Mobility and flexibility, together with stability, lay the foundation for physical exercise and even daily motor performance. In his advice to personal trainers, Patrick Silva, one of the physical trainers that work with Gumdrop Massage, introduces the concept and importance of maintaining a healthy level of mobility. The relationship between mobility, flexibility, and stability is illustrated here:
Simply stated, a healthy degree of mobility and flexibility enables you to move around as you like and to put your body under your command, for sports and for other everyday activities.
As we age, our fascial tissues lose the richness of collagen, resulting in a phenomenon known as adhesion: fascial layers stick to one another, and their role as the facilitator between adjacent muscle groups is weakened. You may find yourself restricted by your painful waist when you try to pick up luggage, or feel discomfort as you lift your arm to play badminton, thinking that age finally strikes you. And that can be FRUSTRATING.
However, adhesions act on everyone, no matter you are young, athletic, or sedentary, because they can result from a problem common to the whole population: dehydration. Different from what we usually know about the mechanism that causes dehydration, adhesions are not solved by drinking more water, as water is metabolized and does not stay in fascial tissues if we do it wrong.
How to do it right, then?
Many people believe that exercise increases mobility and flexibility, and relieves us from all the pain and discomfort. However, the truth is that both a lack of movement and muscle overuse result in dehydration and adhesions. The solution? Choose the exercise that rehabilitates your fascial tissues.
First of all, include some rest into the rhythm of your exercise. As Tom Myers says, rest allows your tissues to rehydrate. It feels accomplished to drain your energy with an incessant workout, but it can be detrimental to your mobility and flexibility and thus affect your future performance. Let your fasciae reabsorb some water that keeps them springy and happy.
Secondly, variation is key. Brooke Thomas emphasizes the importance to create an exercise rhythm that incorporates varied movements and tempo of the movements. For sports fans, a good HIIT program can be a good choice that keeps you away from fascial overuse and adhesion problems; for someone who sits or stands all day, make sure to do some stretching exercises and walk around for every 2 hours.
Lastly and most importantly, get a good massage through myofascial release (MFR)! If you are an athlete or have tight shoulders, you probably have heard about how MFR can prevent injury and relieve muscle stiffness. A gentle, sustained massage that lasts more than 30 minutes on each spot alleviates inflammation in overused muscles and fascial tissues. Don’t consider massage as a pricy, time-consuming expense! In fact, you can easily get a massage with an effective and portable massage tool anywhere, anytime. And here is where a Gumdrop massage tool can get the best help for you.
Honestly, Gumdrop doesn’t look like a massage tool — it’s way too adorable. That’s because we cherish the aesthetic value of sports and fitness. But Gumdrop is more than its appearance. It is nicely designed to incorporate portability and versatility into one single triangular pyramid. Gumdrop fits in the palm of your hand and can easily be carried in any bag, purse, or luggage — or even in your large coat pockets. Moreover, its unique shape allows you to use the surfaces around you. The wall, the back of your chair, or the floor are all viable options for helping you massage out those hard-to-reach knots.
Gumdrop has 3 tips that differ in their radii, which enables you to massage muscles of different sizes.
- The smallest radius is perfect for manually targeting knots around the upper shoulder or small joints.
- The medium-sized radii are great for smaller muscles like forearms and calves.
- The largest radius is ideal for larger muscles. Like your glutes!
Click here to take a closer look at your best massage tool, and let the beauty of Gumdrop sweeten up your fasciae.
Different exercises require different release strategies. If you are a runner, check out our Twitter to learn about running injuries; if you have tight shoulders, take a look at our Instagram video on how to use Gumdrop to loosen them up a bit!
By Yiting Yin