By Sandi Silagi
If you have back pain and instability, the connective tissue in your body, the fascia, is the most likely reason. Most people with back pain are told to improve their core strength. Most people with balance issues are told to practice standing on one leg. The strength of the muscles in core conditioning is most likely not the problem. Current studies are proving the suppleness of the fascia (hydration and pliability of the tissue) to be the cause of discomfort, not the muscular strength of the “core.”
In 2010, just 12 years ago, the book, “The Myth of Core Stability,” by Professor Eyal Lederman, Physiotherapist, PhD, and Doctor of Osteopathy, gave two viewpoints of particular importance: Weak or dysfunctional abdominal muscles will not lead to back pain; and tensing the trunk muscles is unlikely to protect against back pain or reduce its recurrence. That was quite questionable in 2010; it is now being proven true with studies showing that most back pain is related to the fascia rather than muscle.
Sometime after age 26, the scaffolding of our bodies starts to change. Instead of the skin being taut, and the underlying tissue hydrated and supple, these characteristics reverse. Our skin loses elastin, and repetitive movement patterns create dehydration.
Without noticing much discomfort, our movements can become smaller. Your top shelf and lower cabinet get used for things you don’t need access to; you may not notice that you can no longer reach high or bend down. People buy slip-on shoes to avoid bending forward to tie their laces. Things like that get little second thought. It is easy to avoid thinking about.
By regularly moving and being less sedentary, we can often avoid the discomfort. The key word is regularly. Regularly means most days. Regularly moving such that you find ease in the entire body moving. Walking is a great example of a best regular movement. There is natural rotation and reach throughout the body. The arms swing, the legs swing, you look around. Walking is core conditioning, and it is fascia conditioning. Walking stimulates the whole body.
It makes as much sense to care for our soft tissue as to strengthen the muscle. The collagen and elastin are fibers in the fascia, the inner connections; these fibers keep our scaffolding (skin and other soft tissue) strong. The muscles are the motors; the non-muscle fascia is the leverage. The non-muscle fascia of collagen and elastin provide absorption and transfer mechanism of force. Collagen can be thought of as a spring. A loaded spring transfers the force of the movement.
Think of the elastin as an elastic band. The elasticity of the tissue relies on the elastin. Elastin keeps your internal memory foam supportive. You need the fibers in the fascia to slide and glide for healthy force absorption. If your tissues are dehydrated or you are sedentary, there is no slide and glide. Instead, you may experience achiness in gummed-up tissue.
Soft bouncing and tapping can release the gummed-up tissue and support and connect the fibers. Working with the tissue to release holding patterns in our bodies reduces pains that limit movement and mobility and cause instability. Bouncing can help you move better and feel better. Melt Method techniques and sequences of compression and vibration and bouncy movement can hydrate and stimulate the tissue to respond. This type of movement will then support muscular strength and provide the needed leverage for ease in your body.
Let’s explore this a little – I’ll walk you through. Start seated and start small; there should be no pain – zero, nada. Let’s get moving and find the movements that will bring you the balance and confidence to move more.
Sit in your chair; slowly move or bounce the hips forward and back. Think of an infant before they stand, they get excited and wiggle their butt – start with a little wiggle. (That little wiggle is strengthening the core!) Now stand in a place where you feel supported, soften the knees, and let the body bounce lightly there. Enjoy the silly of it all. You know, the first thing a baby will do once they can hold themselves up is bounce. Something to think about.
That’s it! Bouncing seems like nothing, but can do so much within your body! I bet if you had checked your balance before you bounced and again after you bounced, you would be more balanced afterwards! Bouncing stimulates signals and creates new pathways.
Move small, move big; move front, move back. If you think you can’t bounce, well, you are not alone! It has to be practiced.
Sandi is co-owner of Core Centric Training on Vashon Island. Core Centric offers personal training, partner training, small group classes, and workshops. Workshops in Strength and Stability Through Fascial network with Focus on Feet, Pelvis, and Low Back are offered monthly online. Visit CoreCentricTraining.com or call 206-388-8953.
Sandi Silagi is a Certified Applied Functional Strength and Nutrition Coach and a co-owner of Core Centric Training on Vashon Island. She has additional certifications in Pilates, Melt Method, Franklin Method, Golf Fitness, and a much-loved history in dance.