Warning: Video may be graphic; anatomist Gil Hedley shows us muscle tissue from a cadaver; there’s also a pic below.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? If you’re an animal, you stretch. If you’re a human, you likely hit the snooze button on your alarm clock or head into the kitchen for a cup of coffee– but what you should do is stretch. Those stiff muscles feel great when they’re stretched out, and for good reason: we are meant to move. Our sedentary lifestyles have a huge impact on our overall health. Here’s how.
Fascia is connective tissue that’s found all over the body. Healthy fascia, composed of layers of collagen & elastin, is smooth and slippery, so that it can “glide” and move. When your muscles are stiff, it’s because something is causing the fascia to meet resistance. That something is “the fuzz”, which is actually the growth of sticky cobweb-like collagen fibers that solidify the muscle, making it difficult to move. This fuzz forms during periods of long inactivity, such as when we are sleeping, watching a movie, on a long car trip, or when we don’t exercise. As the fuzz builds up and knits together, what was once muscle stiffness can turn to a limited range of motion.
Your range of motion won’t be the only thing impacted. According to Dr. Frank Lipman, an internationally renowned expert in integrative medicine, tightened fascia can lead to other health problems, eventually squeezing nerves and veins, which may stop areas of the body from getting much needed nutrients.
Yoga, acupuncture, foam rolling, and deep tissue massage are great ways to free yourself from the fuzz.