How Long Does It Take To Create Lasting Change?
I just received an email from Eric Cressey, one of the top players in the strength and conditioning game, and a baseball training guru. In his newsletter he talks about the 8 strategies for fascial fitness according to Thomas Meyers, manual therapy pioneer and author of Anatomy Trains. As I read the 8 rules, I was struck by the last one.
Before we get to the final rule, lets first give a quick overview of the role of fascia in our body. The short, short version is that our body is not just a bunch of muscles that act independently of each other to cause movement. All of our bodily tissues are joined by bags of connective tissue called fascia. This tissue adapts to the forces we apply to it, but it doesn’t know right from wrong. Years of sitting at a computer with hunched shoulders (as I realized I was a second ago), tight hipflexors and a bad low back from sitting at a desk all the time, etc will contribute to poor posture and pain over time. If you spend a significant amount of time in a certain posture, your body will adapt to that. Take your shoulders for example. If you hunch forward when you sit in a chair, the tissues in your upper back will become “long” while your chest tissue will become “short”. This will make it difficult to maintain proper posture and puts you at a greater risk of injury. Since all fascia is connected, issues in one area of the body can lead to issues in other, seemingly unrelated areas. For example, poor function in your right shoulder can lead to left hip or knee pain (and/or vice versa). It seems crazy, but fascial connections make it happen.
Now to 8th rule…When working through movement issues, “be gentile, be persistent”. Prominent changes can take 18-24 months to take place. Just like it takes a long time to achieve consistent poor posture, it takes a long time to regain proper alignment and posture. This makes fascial health a difficult quest given the “gotta have it now” nature of most people working through a training program. Just realize that great movement doesn’t come overnight, and consistent work will create positive fascial changes to allow for great joint position, function, and finally strength. Be gentile, be persistent and you will be rewarded with tissue and movement health that will keep you performing for a long time.