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Why Should We Care About Fascia?

At Health By Design, we’re coming to understand that we’re in the alignment business. We’ve learned from you, our customers, how crucial it is to support the alignment of the spine, fascia, and nervous system. Too often our mechanized and fast-paced world leaves these systems working at cross purposes to each other.

It’s fairly easy to ignore fascia when we are young. As we age, however, fascia gets set in the habits and ruts our lifestyles lay down for it. You may have found that in your effort to maintain good posture and focus throughout the day your fascia, rather than gravity, is your biggest foe.

Everyone resists change, and our body’s web of fascia is no exception. It’s possible to turn our fascia from a foe back into the friend it was as a youngster. Our bodies can remember what it felt like when our bones, sinew, muscles, and desire were all working together as a healthy and happy team. We are designed to have this as a daily experience well into old age.

I didn’t have to care much about fascia until my mid-twenties when I began to experience chronic lower back pain. I was surprised to find that a simple behavior change was all I needed. I learned to stop carrying my bulky wallet in my back pocket. If you see vintage jeans from that era (1960’s to late 1980’s) you’ll often see the outline of a wallet faded into the back pocket. Isn’t it remarkable that a half an inch of tilt to my pelvis as I sat driving and sitting was enough to throw off my alignment? Even then I didn’t know about the role or structure of fascia, I just knew I had less pain.

Even if I did know about fascia at the time, I doubt I would have been forward-thinking enough to choose my behaviors with long-term mobility in mind. When we were kids, if we wanted to pretend we were aged, we shortened our psoas, put a hand on our lower back, pretended to be holding a cane and stooped our shoulders. Little did we know that the roots of those chosen limitations were being chosen for us by furniture designers, building designers, car designers, even the TV news set designers who continue to assume we need humans to be sitting behind a desk to project authority. Our future immobility was designed right into the school chairs we were sitting in hour after hour.

The last psoas-friendly environment most of us had was the reading rug of the kindergarten classroom. I can still vividly recall the intense pain in my legs, lower back, and neck when I first returned to that reading rug as a student teacher. It was around 1985, my first placement in a classroom with my mentoring teacher. The rug was a blue shag where I joined the kindergarteners for story time. I had to struggle to focus on my role as a budding teacher. The questions from the students had to find their way to my brain through the pain my fascia was throwing into the mix. With such a large distance our bodies travel when we’ve finally mastered all the behaviors of adulthood, we can’t easily return to where we began without serious discomfort.

What do we have to contribute to the coming generation if we can’t hang out with them where they are comfy? How can we redesign the path to adulthood so that this next generation needn’t experience the premature limitations, the overly tight circle of mobility to which we’ve succumbed? I’m willing to continue my daily fight with fascia, it has given up significant territory it thought it just had to have. But if we can redesign our lives around the tools we now have, the next generation won’t have nearly the battle to fight that we do.