What the Heck Is Fascia Training, and Should You Try It?
The connective tissue between your muscles needs training just as much as the muscles themselves. Check out how this growing trend can boost your fitness.
Fitness trends may come and go , but the industry’s current focus on recovery and mobility feels like a movement with real staying power. From Pilates to yoga to infrared saunas, exercise lovers are exploring new ways to avoid injury and bounce back effectively between workouts. After all, you can’t top the leaderboard at spin if you’re nursing an overworked quad.
That’s where fascia conditioning comes in. A groundbreaking approach to strengthening the body and protecting it from injury, fascia conditioning could just become the hottest workout of the year. Here’s how it works.
Get to Know Your Fascia
Fascia (pronounced fash-ya) is the connective tissue that anchors, supports and stabilizes your internal organs and muscles.
“It might be helpful to picture healthy fascia like a bowl of warm buttery noodles, where fibers easily slide and glide, push and pull, while distributing force from your body’s movements across those fibers,” says Anna Rahe, creator of GST Body and a pioneer of fascia conditioning. “Soft, supple and fluid fascia tissue makes it super strong,” allowing it to help the rest of your body to work efficiently. Damaged fascia, on the other hand, will put extra stress on the muscles it connects to, raising your risk of injury.
Soft, pliable fascia is crucial for moving without pain, adds Eric Owens, co-founder of Delos Therapy. “Fascia has a very specific orientation relative to the muscle that allows movement to be fluid, three-dimensional and dynamic without pain, stiffness or weakness,” he says. If you have a desk job or spend long periods of time sedentary, it can cause your fascia to stiffen, leading to a decrease in your range of motion.
Fascia Conditioning Basics
Just like you work out your muscles to get them into top shape, fascia conditioning gets your connective tissue into a healthy, fluid state for optimal physical functioning.
“Most people know how to work their muscles by isolating and targeting different groups during a workout, but not many people know that they can move their fascia in the same way they do their muscles,” says Rahe, who adds that the benefits of working on your fascia go beyond pure fitness. “The end goal of fascia conditioning is total holistic body care.” Since the tissue is everywhere in your body, she explains, improving its health has the effect of making your whole body feel rejuvenated.
Experiencing a Fascia Workout
Mix the fluidity of dance with the dynamics of full-body functional movements, and you’ve pretty much got fascia conditioning. During these sessions, expect to move in multiple directions using “dynamic rebounds” instead of holding static positions. You’ll bend into a position, then spring back to your neutral starting pose in quick, controlled bursts. For example, imagine stretching down to touch your running shoes, then alternating between raising your torso up an inch and back down an inch in small, elastic movements, activating your fascia with each pulse.
If you’re sweating on a budget, rejoice: There’s no special equipment necessary to complete a fascia-conditioning workout. “All you really need is your body,” says Rahe.
Benefits of Fascia Conditioning
Keeping your connective tissue soft and pliable gives you a larger range of motion, plus more overall athleticism and mobility. Fluid fascia is also key to avoiding next-day soreness after a major workout.
By improving the health of your connective tissue, you’ll lower your odds of stiffness in your limbs, making you a well-oiled machine in the boxing ring, on the track or wherever you move. “Conditioning your fascia prevents it from becoming fibrotic,” concludes Owens. “Healthy tissue stimulates the release of new collagen, improving elasticity.”
If you’re curious about giving it a try, there’s no need for a major commitment—just a little bit of fascia conditioning daily can make a big difference over time. The most important thing is to make it a regular part of your workout routine, and stick to it.