Rolfers love to talk about fascia, that mysterious stuff between your muscles. Ida Rolf spent her whole career talking about it. Here’s a nice video showing you what it looks like.
It is my colleague, Rolfer Gil Hedley, giving “The Fuzz Speech”. It’s funny and lighthearted and gives you a good sense of what fascia looks like.
(Alert – the video shows some images of a dissected human cadaver, so if you’re squeamish, I’ll try to describe it for you. But the visual is worth it).
A couple of notes about the speech. The ideas about how those strings in the fascia – the fuzz – build up, and how stretching releases them, are a bit outdated. Gil has acknowledged this, saying that he never meant the Fuzz Speech to be anything more than a fun and goofy encouragement to stretch.
The truth about what happens when you do, or don’t, stretch, or get hands-on work, is much more complicated than you see presented in the video. It very probably involves a complex relationship between fascia, muscle, nerves, and the central nervous system. When you’re in your yoga class, getting a Rolfing session, or just stretching when you arise in the morning, there is undoubtedly much more going on than just the fuzz breaking up.
Also, obviously the video shows a cadaver, and live tissue may be acting very differently than what you see in the video.
So why show the video? For one, the visuals are great, and give you an idea of the global nature of the connective tissue system – it’s pretty much everywhere. And whatever the mechanisms involved, I agree completely with Gil about the importance of keeping the fascia and muscles pliable and elastic by stretching and moving.
Or sooner or later, you may end up searching out someone like me or Gil, and we get paid to help deal with all that tissue that has gotten you stuck in place.
So…move! Yoga is great. Any exercise that gets you moving is good. But when in doubt, just imitate Calamity (my 18 year old cat), or Rover or Felix or Spot. Stretch!