The role of fascia on movement and training
So it sounds like we should be paying this more attention, but what about its influence on movement?
“It’s also a fibro-elastic connective tissue that plays a significant role with posture and movement – it’s really a dynamic tissue. The fascia network in my mind is what humanises our movement,” Foley said.
So the fascia are tissues that seem to have a massive role in human movement, even if our understanding is still incomplete. But with what we do know, is it possible to train with these tissues in mind? And if we do, will it improve performance?
Foley thinks so. But there’s no need to overhaul all of your training methods.
“It’s not a matter of doing completely different things, but rather just doing some things differently,” Foley said.
“Predominantly, we’re going to move away from bilateral stances. I think that especially as athletes continue to progress throughout their career, bilateral, symmetrical loading with high constraint and high external stability just has a really low level of return.”
So this means plenty of unilateral and split stance exercises are on the menu when Foley is cooking up a storm in the gym. The direction of movement also plays an important role in his training.
“Moving in multiple directions and emphasising omnidirectional movement is important. This is another way of saying breaking out of your traditional three cardinal planes [Sagittal, Frontal, Transverse],” Foley said.
According to Foley then, we can create fascia-focused training by stepping away from bilateral lifts, in just one plane of movement, and instead pay more attention to working on one leg, across a range of different movement vectors. But how much weight should be on the bar? Do we need to load these tissues up or do they fare better with lighter weights?
“Collectively, it’s not as much of a pursuit of maximal loading. What I’m more interested in is kind of that 65 to 85% range where we’re moving the weight with high intent,” Foley said.