Fascia is a continuous, tensile (workable, stretchable) network. Every part of that network has the capacity to communicate with every other part of that network. In addition to this, the body can be thought of as a tensegrity system, where the bones float in the soft tissue of the body and the soft tissue holds the bones both together and apart. A tensegrity system is able to distribute strain that is applied to it. So, if one part of the body is placed under pressure, the rest of the body will work to distribute some of that strain throughout it. If the strain on our fascia increases, our system will make itself more stable. Conversely, if the strain on our fascia decreases, our system will make itself more adaptable. The combination of these two qualities can be referred to as tensile stability
What this means is that, thanks to its tensile stability, the body is able to give us access to a feeling of inner spaciousness through the combination of strength and ease, whole-body responsiveness, dynamic stability (the ability to remain centered even when we’re moving) and grace. It’s also really good for our joints and organs.
Learn about fascia and yin yoga here.
In fact, the benefits of this can be felt, even on the cellular level. The better the distribution of strain in the body and the more flexible or malleable our system is as a whole, the healthier and happier our cells, because they feel this too.
There are lots of things that influence tensile stability. Muscle tone, for example, influences fascial tension and, through that, body-wide stability. What this indicates is that dynamic stability exists on a spectrum. Stability is a process, not a fixed point and we move along this spectrum all the time. If we’re too stable, the body becomes rigid. If we have too much flexibility, the body is unstable. Centeredness is the point between these two extremes.
If our desire is to train tensile stability in a way that is balanced, it is important to move the body through, diverse, rather than repetitive movement. Within this, the focus is on active lengthening, creating traction within the body (tensioning between two poles), increasing the body’s capacity to distribute strain (decreasing load on individual joints), and movements that create a sense of expansion within the body (rather than compression or contraction).
One of the key qualities of fascia is its ability to effectively distribute force throughout the body. Learn about the mechanism that allows us to do that here.