Fascia stretching deals with the is the thin, cellophane-like, connective tissue that surrounds muscles, groups of muscles, blood vessels, and nerves. Similar to ligaments and tendons, fascia has closely packed bundles of collagen fibers with parallel orientation.
Fascia acts like a girdle and binds a muscle group together. Most times it ties to the neighboring muscle. The fascia is not loose tissue. They warp it so tight around the surrounding areas constricting it. Healthy fascia is flexible and able to resist great uni-directional tension forces.
What does fascia have to do with muscle growth? The answer is muscles cannot grow unless there is enough room. By wrapping the muscles tight, the fascia limits the needed room for muscle expansion.
You have heard about muscle memory. A person who had great size and muscularity can lose it after not training for a long time. However, you can quickly gain muscle size again. How is this possible? While building size, a person can stretch and expand the encasing tissue. When getting back to regular training you are no longer fighting the restrictions of the tight fascia. The muscles have more room to grow.
If we want our muscles to grow faster, we have to mimic muscle memory or create an environment that looks similar to the one where muscles were bigger. In simple words, we have to “stretch” the fascia and make room for our muscles to grow.
Here are the steps for a fascia stretching workout:
It’s essential to have a good warm-up before you start fascia stretching. We want to stretch the fascia past its earlier limits and for this to happen we need a full range of motion. Cold muscles have a limited range of motion and make you prone to injuries. Make sure you are warm before we go to the next step.
A great blood pump will stretch the fascia and surrounding tissues beyond their earlier limits. The bigger the pump the better. This does NOT mean you should pick up light weights and pump blood into your muscles. You can achieve muscle growth by lifting heavy weights and doing compound movements. Let’s take the chest for an example:
You work your chest with heavy compound movements:
Bench press 2 x 5-8 (heavy)
Incline dumbbell press 2 x 5-8 (heavy)
Once completed you should pick an exercise movement allowing isolation movement. Dumbbell flies for example. Do 5-8 sets with moderate weights and a higher number of repetitions.
Dumbbell flies 6 x 12-15 (you can lower the weight the last few sets to complete the reps)
Extreme fascia stretching
When you feel the pump, you are finished. You should stretch the muscle beyond the point of comfort. This action will stretch the fascia, even more, making sure of room for growth. For the extreme stretching, I suggest the DC (DoggCrapp) stretches. To continue our chest training example, I’ll explain the chest stretching technique: