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What it Means to be Flexible and Why It’s Not Always a Good Thing - - by Tom Myers of Anatomy Trains .
New science tells us that our body’s connective tissue, or fascia, determines our baseline flexibility. But practicing yoga can change our muscles’ functional length and our joints’ range of motion. Here's how to use yoga to find a safe level of flexibility and stabilize your joints.
Temple Dancer Body Type:
A temple dancer has looser fascia that builds more slowly. The fascial net tends to be less capable of keeping joints stable. This body has fewer fibroblasts. “People who are very bendy are going to have to rely on their muscles for stability,” Myers says. It’s better for people with this body type to do minimal passive stretching. For example you want to avoid lingering in postures such as Upavista Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend)..
Instead, practicing strength-building poses, such as Plank, will increase stability in order to counteract too much flexibility. “The muscles will take over the job that the ligaments simply can’t do because they are too elastic, too loose,” Myers says.
Viking Body Type:
A viking has denser fascia that builds more quickly. The connective tissue is stiffer, which makes the body more stable, but less permissive of movement. This body type has more fibroblasts. Vikings tend to be more rigid in postures such as Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend, perhaps struggling just to sit upright with their legs barely straddled. They have to work toward becoming more flexible, and yoga postures focused on stretching can help.
“The type of fascia you have is not right or wrong,” Myers says. “You just can’t expect the same behavior out of these two body types.” Also, both ends of the spectrum can be dangerous: Extreme fascial looseness, for example, is seen in Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and extreme fascial stiffness can show up as calcification of the spine, such as in ankylosing spondylitis.
WOW, this research blew my mind. And changed the way I practice & teach yoga, and do bodywork! Empowering information to support your unique body.
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