What are your problem areas? You know what I mean?
What are the areas that you constantly have to stretch or where you are more likely to feel tension in the body?
Some people would answer their hamstrings. Others would say their low back. And others might say that it’s their upper traps.
At this point when we have listened to our bodies closely enough to figure out something is wrong we have two choices:
1. We can continue on as if nothing is wrong. We do this by working around our aches and pains. We found new exercises to target similar muscles and actions. We may try a new split putting less emphasis on this problem area. Or we may power through our training sessions thinking this is part of the process and it proves our toughness and commitment to our goal.
2. We can address these issues and seek help. We will book an appointment with our therapist of choice and get some relief. We may find out what the issue is and learn which movements to reduce in our workouts and which ones we have been neglecting. We realize that the solution is neither an independent effort on our part nor the responsibility of another health practitioners but a joint effort to address the issue.
Hopefully we are all people that prefer option #2.
Now imagine a group of people that had issues with:
* the bottoms of their feet
* tight hamstrings
Typically a common response would be to address each by zeroing in on the area affected. The person with sore feet may try getting off their feet, invest in orthotics, stretch their calves or something else specific to the feet. The person with the tight hamstrings may stretch the hamstrings or go for a massage. And the person with headaches may take something, they may get some rest or simply be dehydrated.
It’s hard to say what would work for each of these scenarios, isn’t it?
The one interested thing is that each of these areas of the body are connected. They are all physically connected by fascia. And the connection that links these areas is called the Superficial Back Line or SBL.
The SBL actually runs from the plantar fascia (bottom of the feet)-achilles tendon-calf-hamstring-sacral ligament-thoracolumbar facia (TLF)-thoracic spine up to the cervical paraspinals. In other words there is a physical connection from the toes to your eye brows.
The areas in red represent the fascial connections of the SBL.
So what is the purpose of the SBL? It’s purpose is to support the body in extension. In other words it helps keep us upright.
If you can imagine a new baby face down and trying to lift its head to look around you can appreciate the purpose of the SBL.
The SBL also helps with resisting flexion or the curling up of the body.
Another interesting feature of the SBL is that is comprised primarily of slow twitch endurance muscles. This doesn’t mean it is not comprised of any fast twitch muscles but simply that primarily it is designed for longer term tasks.
Such as keeping the body upright and maintaining proper posture throughout the day.
Now when you think about the fact most people sit on the commute to and from work, sit all day at work or at school, sit for all their meals and then sit again to relax and watch something on Netflix we are working in opposition to the SBL.
This would disrupt the balance and function of the SBL, wouldn’t it?
If you imagine the SBL as the backside of a wetsuit we can see the disruption that occurs with too much sitting.
For lack of a better picture this representation is incomplete as it doesn’t include the feet or a cover for the head. But for our purposes you get the idea.
As we sit the backside of the suit gets stretched and lengthened. Look at the smooth back of the wetsuit where there are no creases or folds.
Contrast that with the front side of the wetsuit and you can easily see creases and folds on the entire front side of the body.
Both situations, stretched out on the back and folds on the front, would only be made worse with feet and head included.
And if we think of the function of the SBL is to keep us upright with proper posture while resisting flexion we haven’t set ourselves up very well to do this with all of the hours of sitting we do each day.
So what is the solution?
Well a quick way trick would be work on the plantar fascia of the feet with a ball of some type. If you can handle it a golf ball is great but a lacrosse ball will do the trick also. Rub the bottom of the feet covering all aspects for 30 seconds. Switch and do each foot a couple of times.
This rolling of the feet stimulates the fascia not only where you contact the ground but all the way up through the body via the linkages described above (see before the first image).
If you have issues with the SBL you may notice improved balance, reduced tension at the hamstrings and possibly improvement with your headaches. I’m not suggesting this is the cure for all of these but it is a quick way to begin to address the issues you may have which are related to the SBL.