I’ve mentioned before that receiving bodywork is really only part of the process of keeping you moving freely and combating the aches and pains we develop through our jobs and recreational activities. Good bodywork will leave you feeling lighter and with greater range of movement in the areas that were worked and those relating to them but often you feel that it only lasts a few days before you’re back to square one. Why is this?
The changes that are made in a bodywork session are only temporary unless you make the effort to use them and make them permanent. It’s a bit like when you get up in the morning, you’ve been lying in bed all night and feel a bit stiff when you get up but as you move around this stiffness disappears but what is the stiffness? The stiffness is caused by what Gil Hedley calls “fascial fuzz”.
This is the build up of fine strands of fascia between the fascial layers enveloping the different muscles and it prevents them from gliding feely over one another. This over night build up is easily removed by our normal daily activities. This is fine in part but doesn’t really address the fact that our normal range of movement and postural patterns are what is causing the various aches and pains we experience and why we go for bodywork in the first place. On top of the overnight build up there will be a build op of the fuzz if we injure an area and don’t try to restore movement, from general inactivity or from just not making the effort to extend ourselves beyond that movement which required inmost daily activities. This build up will thicken over time and restrict the movement in the injured or little used areas and thus the surrounding joints and soft tissues.
The overnight build up of this “fuzz” is unavoidable but it is, as I said, easy to deal with by simply getting up and moving around but the thicker build up that occurs in the areas that really don’t get moved within our normal daily movements essentially require a little more effort. This is where bodywork can be of great benefit in helping develop greater range of movement by reducing the adhesions that have developed through lack of use, injury or both. We also need to do something ourselves in addition to the bodywork or the new found movement will be quickly lost as the adhesions redevelop. This does not need to be anything exotic and some simple mobility drills such as those mentioned in the “Getting your 5 a day” post can be enough to help maintain and continue the improvement.
Once the process of improving our range of movement has been started we must get used to the fact that, in order to maintain it, we need to incorporate these simple exercises and stretches into our daily routines. There are a number of reasons for this one is simply as case of “use it or lose it” and the other is that it can take quite some time for the extra movement to permanent such that it won’t disappear as soon as we miss a day or two. It will normally take several months for the changes to become permanent such that they don’t disappear overnight but once developed the frequency you do them does not need to be as high but you WILL still need to do them. Some of the possible reasons for this are looked at on Todd Hardgrove’s Better Movement blog. As he suggests the problems aren’t just physical from the point of view of restrictions within the soft tissue structures but also our neural pathways and that we must overcome the fact that we associate certain movements with pain. It is this combination of “hard” physical and “softer” neural restrictions that mean the process can be a long one with the portion dealing with the soft tissue structures being the easy bit. This said just because it may take some time doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it given the payoff at the other end is better, more pain free movement