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Regional Interdependence

Wait, what?

Yes, this is a real term, and no, I didn't make it up.

This is the idea that all things are interconnected, are related, and influence each other. This is the idea that a seemingly uninvolved area can actually be causing pain in a different part of the body.

Have you ever heard the song about the knee bone being connected to the hip bone?

Take that several steps further, and you'll have the toe bone connected to the wrist bone. It's all connected.

How can an area unrelated to another cause pain, weakness, or mobility deficits?

We know that our body is made up of millions of independent organisms that all live in harmony. They all thrive together, and they all die together. Our body as a whole however, develops from a single cell.

This single cell divides, and divides, and divides, over and over again, until we become a human life form that is recognizable to us. Along the way, our cells developed specific roles that changed them, grouped them, and organized them. Cells can become skin, eyes, ears, noses, mouths, tongues, fingers, stomachs, hearts, lungs, livers, muscles, brains, nerves, ligaments, tendons, fat, glands, anything you can name in the body.

When these cells are grouped and organized, they are meant to have a certain amount of mobility to them. Muscles, for example, should have the ability to shorten and lengthen. This is what gives them the contractile quality that makes them useful. Skin has the ability to stretch and fold while allowing a cooling response to occur. This is sweating. Brain cells can communicate with other brain cells to create memories, responses, and thoughts. Having muscle cells in your brain wouldn't do much good, just like having any of the wrong cells in the wrong area wouldn't be useful.

As we continue to talk about muscle cells, it's important to remember that muscle cells are grouped into fibers, that are grouped into spindles, that are grouped into muscles. It's similar to how a steel cable would be made.

These muscle groups are connected to adjacent groups by connective tissue called fascia. Fascia is the lining of all cells and is continuous throughout our body. If we took away everything from your body and left only your fascia, you would look exactly the same. Fascia compartmentalizes and connects all the parts of your body.

Having this connective tissue that runs throughout our body, up and down, in and out, deep and superficial, means that no one part of the body can move without influencing the rest of the body. The body is organized in layers, and these layers should move both independent and together, depending on the demand. Think about wearing a t-shirt, a shirt, and a jacket. These three layers all slide past one another, and can move freely, even if they are moving in the same direction.

Now, imagine you cut through these three layers, and then stitched them all back together at the same spot. When you moved, these layers would move together at that sticking point. That part of the layer wouldn't move separate from the layers above or below it. They would be forced to function as one.

This is what happens when you have an injury. Anytime you are injured, whether bruised, sprained, or cut, your body reacts with a healing process. First, your body fills in the damaged area. The damage may penetrate multiple layers, but your body doesn't differentiate that. It just fills in the hole. The layers at that area all heal together. They no longer move independent. Now, every time you move, that area moves as one, instead of as separate layers.

Over our lifetime, we have lots of injuries. Think of every cut, scrape, bump, and bruise you've ever had. They all heal eventually. We can include broken bones, ruptured discs, and surgical incisions. They all heal with time. Your body is meant to heal. It's designed to do this.

With all these injuries, the healed tissue doesn't necessarily recover to the extent that the original tissue was designed. It can have increased stiffness, increased girth, or increased sensitivity. This creates an effect on everything around it. If one area is restricted, then when you move it pulls on another area. Now that area becomes hyper mobile or weak, and possibly gets injured. Then that injury heals, but creates a new sticking point along the track, which now influences other areas.

The pattern can continue resulting in microtrauma and healing throughout your musculoskeletal system. Even without all this injury and recovery, we still know that tension in one area can create tension in another.

Try this to see how you can influence nearby areas for gains:

Do a standard forward bend and try to reach your toes. Wherever your reach to, just take note. You probably feel tightness in your hamstrings or your back which limits your mobility.

Now, take a tennis ball, baseball, or lacrosse ball, and roll your foot over it. You are trying to stretch the connective tissue along your sole. Spend a few minutes working on each foot. It feels good!

Then, stand back up and do the forward bend again. Notice how you now have more mobility in your hamstrings and your back. Notice how you can now reach further down toward the ground.

How did you change your ability to forward bend by working on your foot? Because it's all connected! The tissue along the base of your foot is continuous with your calves, which is continuous with your hamstrings, which is continuous with your back, and we could trace that all the way up to your skull if we wanted.

Cool stuff right?

Keep this concept in mind whenever you are working on an area of your body. Don't only focus on the targeted area, but look at what's above it, below it, and anything that can influence it. You can have great results treating a nearby area without ever touching the targeted spot. #snowbeastperformance

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