Fascia training and its importance for riders
Many riders face mobility and flexibility problems in the neck and shoulder area, in the hip-flexors and posterior muscle chain and in the ankle-joints. Stress, tension and poor body posture experienced in our everyday life, affects our riding seat and our ability to stay supple and move with the horse when in the saddle.
So, what has that got to do with Fascia training?
Fascia training or fascia therapy can be performed as self-massage using a foam roller or ball. Athletes can accelerate their muscle regeneration process after a training session or can use the foam roller as an aid to apply targeted fascia training and massage. “Fascia is a very special part of the connective tissue in our body. It passes through us without any interruption from the top of our head, to the tips of our toes” explains fitness coach Marcel Andrä. “Muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels, our organs including our brain and spinal cord, are not only enclosed by this ‘skin’ of tissue but are interwoven with it – comparable to a sponge or a three-dimensional spiders web that ranges from 0.3 – 3 mm in thickness”.
For fascia to function correctly and for it to continue to stay healthy, it needs movement – and plenty of it. Unfortunately, humans have the inherent problem that we no longer move sufficiently enough to meet the needs of our body, meaning that we stunt the potential of what our bodies are capable of. Many of us find ourselves sitting for most of the day usually in a cramped-up position, with a poor posture, experiencing hours of little or no movement. Too little movement leads to the connective tissues becoming ‘matted’ together. This in turn leads to a less adaptive system of fascia, meaning our musculoskeletal system becomes less flexible. The important flow of vital nutrients and fluids is also restricted – either ‘use it or lose it’. This applies to bones, tendons, ligaments, nerves, muscles and fascia.
The more supple the fascia tissue, the more resilient and less susceptible it is to pain. But just like muscles, fascia can overload, harden or wither away if it is either wrongly used or not used at all. Injuries, scarring, inflammation or repetitive overloading can change the structure of the fascia and reduce its elasticity. Whilst muscles are very elastic – they always quickly return to their original position – fascia is more plastic. It simply assumes the form and texture that is required of it.
If it cannot meet these requirements, fascia can become “matted” by forming so-called cross-links or even tear. Take for example the shoulder-neck area. Bad posture results in the head and shoulders not being correctly aligned. Often, the neck is over-stretched, and the shoulder and chest area collapse forward and become shortened. As a result, build-up (cross-linking) of fascia is increased in this area. This can often be seen in riders who find it difficult to push back and relax their shoulders and sit upright and correctly aligned in the saddle.
Fascia training with the BLACKROLL®
Targeted fascia training with the BLACKROLL® can reduce the thickening of the fascia build-up by making it flexible and supple once again. Improvements can often be felt straight away after each use. Care, however, needs to be taken not to massage too far beyond your own pain threshold. Doing this would result in the muscles cramping up, which is completely counterproductive to what you are looking to achieve. In addition, special care should be taken, if you are in discomfort, suffer from back problems or are injured. If this is the case, then consult first with your doctor or therapist.
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