Glide is the term used to describe the action of two fascial planes moving relative to each other, made possible because of the runny consistency of ground substance (also known as the extra-cellular matrix) which provides the lubrication necessary for this movement. Through fascial glide, fascia acts as a body-wide sliding mechanism making graceful, easeful movement possible.
To learn more about the qualities of fascia, including its capacity for adaptability, click here.
There are lots of benefits to fascial glide. One big one is that glide promotes sensory awareness. Loose fascia contains a large number of sensory receptors. The body’s gliding motions stimulate those receptors. Glide also promotes greater ease of movement, improves coordination and helps our tissues stay hydrated. As with most things in the body, there is a feedback loop. In the same way that fascial glide makes each of these things possible, each of these things also enhance fascia’s capacity for glide.
Click here to learn about fascia and the mind-body connection.
The amount of glide necessary in each area of the body is determined by the specific needs of that area of the body, and so, different degrees of glide throughout the body are normal. This difference is expressed in the range, direction and speed of fascial glide, which has the added bonus of facilitating as much movement freedom as possible. What isn’t normal, however, is the presence of tissue adhesions that restrict our range of motion. Sticky ground substance can actually inhibit glide because the fascial surfaces stick together.
One way we can reduce this is by becoming more hydrated. The other way is by introducing gentle and varied movement to our lives. The range and variation of this movement helps to melt the adhesions away, promoting glide. In fact, this is exactly what the body is trying to do when we stretch as we get out of bed in the morning; melt through the adhesions that built up overnight.
Exercises that help improve glide should have the following characteristics:
- Take the body through a generous range of motion
- Be of moderate intensity
- Include spiraling and arching movements
Why care? Because when fascial surfaces have the ability to glide against one another we experience more ease in our movement, our fascial hydration increases, our powers of proprioception improve (that is, our body becomes better at sensing where it is in space) and our interoception sharpens (our ability to sense what is happening inside of our self is heightened).
Did you know that fascia is elastic like a rubber band?! Learn about the property of fascial elasticity here.