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Take Care of Your Fascii

by Sandi & Dan Finch

Most dancers have heard of plantar fasciitis, an ailment of the foot. If you’ve had it, you know it can be painful and can take a long time to heal. Did you know the body is full of fascii that can also become inflamed and cause imbalance, poor posture, and a host of other discomforts?

“Fascia” in Latin means bands, and the fascii throughout the body are elastic bands that encase muscles, organs, nerves and blood vessels. This connective tissue is not like ligaments, which join one bone to another bone, or tendons, which join muscle to bone. In some places, they hold organs in place, in others, they form sliders for muscles to move across. In the foot, where the fascii runs from the toes, over the heel, and up the back of the leg, they support the arch.

Scientists have discovered 12 sets of these fascii connecting seemingly unrelated parts of the body, from the toes to the top of the head. When they function properly, they look like wavy folds that stretch and retract. Stress, trauma, poor posture, and inflammation cause them to lose pliability, and that restricts muscle movement. It has been said this is the source of most chronic pain problems that have no apparent cause.

A new book called Anatomy Trains maps the fascii of the body and shows their interplay with movement and stability. It has evolved into a course for massage therapists, yoga instructors, chiropractors, and personal trainers, on the basis that fascii respond to massage and exercise.

Stretching before you get on the floor is good, to get the kinks out, as some would say. An Oberlin College dance instructor has introduced stretches aimed precisely at the fascii, as reported in the recent Dance Teacher magazine.

Here are some warm-ups being touted on the internet to improve balance and fascii: 1) Prop your toes up against a wall, keeping your arch and heel flat so the toes stretch. Hold for a count of 10 and repeat. 2) Roll a frozen water bottle slowly under your arch. 3) To relax your shoulders so they don’t scrunch up around your neck, stand with hands over head, grasping left wrist with right hand. Gently pull the elbows away from each other, activating the muscles in the shoulders and arms. Bend at the waist to the right, feeling a stretch along the left side of the body. Rotate the elbows so you are looking at the floor. You should feel a ripple through the fascii to the lower back.

Once that water bottle thaws, be sure to drink up. Fascii can become dehydrated if you don’t drink enough, and then are subject to micro tears and lose their stretch, and you’ve got that creaky, achy feeling.


From a club newsletter, February, 2014, and reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, February 2017.


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If you would like to read other articles on dance position, technique, styling, and specific dance rhythms, you may visit the article TOC.



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Past DRDC Educational Articles archived here.

Aditional articles and dance helps by
Sandi & Dan Finch
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Gert-Jan & Susie Rotscheid (see Notebook)



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