So how does Barre create long, lean muscles? And what is Fascia, and what has it got to do with long lean muscles?
Firstly, let's start with Facia otherwise known as the body's 'Connective Tissue'. This connective tissue lies directly under the skin and wraps around your muscles, tendons, ligaments, organs and joints. Fascia also contains your nerves and lymphatic system.
Our fascia plays an important supportive role to the musculoskeletal system by enabling us to perform physical activities. Blood, nerves, and muscles are both wrapped and penetrated by fascia, so that your muscles and organs can glide smoothly against each other. In healthy conditions the fascial system is relaxed and malleable and can provide cushioning and support throughout our system allowing us to move without restriction or pain.
Through poor posture, lack of stretching and general stress, fascia can become thick and hardened creating a feeling of heaviness and stiffness in the joints. We become restricted in our movements and our our cells actually compress under gravity. Poor posture is one of the biggest threats to healthy fascia. When we have gravitational force upon ill aligned joints, muscles and cells, the compression over time has a very negative effect. The health of our fascia also has an affect on our body shape and how we age.
So what what we really want to do is to figure out how to lengthen and elongate our body, smooth out the tough rigidity and create flow through the body, releasing toxins and flushing out inflammation. Blood flow needs to get to a tissue to metabolise it. Cells expand when they are toxic and this is a factor in weight gain or "thickening" such as around the waist. When we collapse, the cells will balloon out under the pressure.
Correct full breath also supports flushing our toxins. If we are not breathing properly then we are building up toxicity. The exhalation the most important aspect of breathing, so we a) flush out the toxins. and b) are able to absorb more oxygen. When we shallow breathe we are not taking the oxygen deep enough into the lungs to allow the oxygen to be fully absorbed. When we breath properly we are strengthening and shaping the the large core-based diaphragm muscle which is is going to assist shaping your waistline.
The diaphragm sits under the heart and lungs and above the abdominal muscles, when you breath in it moves down and when you breath out it moves up against gravity. Essentially, the diaphragm is a pump that heats up the cells so that the organs are at the proper temperature to operate correctly. For example, when the stomach is heated correctly it is able to digest food better and absorb the nutrients more efficiently as well as eliminating unwanted byproducts. This is another way to assist in weight loss and keep a generally healthy internal environment.
Barre Warrior is one technique that assists in healthy fascia. It starts with posture and correct alignment. Barre Warrior is all about stacking the body, releasing compression and allowing flow through th
e body. From this postural foundation we then literally extend our limbs so that we are both stretching and strengthening the muscles using isotonic movements. Isotonic movements mean to keep the muscles at the same tension throughout the movement. Once correctly balanced we then use either internal or external rotation from the joint, expressly ball and socket joints, in order to locate and articulate the finer muscle groups. Although the larger muscles are targeted too, there is a lot to be said for those intrinsic, finer muscles that play a big part in how we manoeuvre a joint and how we remain balanced in and out of movement.
These exercises can be weight bearing, which is effective for creating bone density, however they are not high impact, and therefore gentle on the joints. Barre Warrior in particular focuses on using the correct amount of rotation that is safe for each body. For example, not over "turning out" or lifting the leg higher that the joint is comfortable with. Barre Warrior also works on breath, filling the lungs and exhaling fully to help flush out toxins and oxygenate the blood.
Until recently, little has been understood about the role of fascia. Ida Rolf was a woman who in the early 20th century created 'Structural Integration', a holistic system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education that organises the entire body in gravity. Ida created 'Rolfing' massage technique to physically move and lengthen the soft tissue. She also created a system of correcting posture and addressing each part of the body. Her work and the importance of Fascia was not recognised by the medical and scientific community until the mid 2000's when they started to understand that fascia literally defines the shape of our body.
Like Structural integration, Barre Warrior works to restructure and redefine the body from the inside out. When we repeat a movement over and over, it reconditions the body. Because fascia is an interconnected matrix of tissue, when we correct one aspect we see a chain reaction throughout each part of the body. I have worked with many people who through a regular practice of Barre Warrior have corrected knee, neck, back, hip and ankle issues and found a chain reaction of total body ease as a result.
Another complimentary practice is Foam Rolling. For some time I have worked with the Foam Roller as rehabilitative tool for tight or knotted muscles. Then I met Lauren Roxburgh and discovered the magnitude of effectiveness in lengthening and smoothing out tough and sticky fascia, congestion, and toxins that lie in stuck areas. The foam roller actually hydrates the tissue with oxygenated blood and fluid. The foam roller delves deep into the fascia flushing out toxins and smoothing dense scar tissue. Lauren worked how to get similar results to physical manipulation- massage, using the foam roller.
Lauren and I have recently joined forces to bring Barre Warrior and Lauren's Programs using the foam Roller and other tools into a framework that can truly change the shape of your body. Lauren's extensive knowledge of fascia through her work as a Structural Integration practitioner and her own passion for understanding connective tissue has profoundly benefited my knowledge. Now more than ever, I can understand why I see such massive results through my program and I can even enhance my offerings with what I know and how to use the foam roller as a complimentary tool.
Alignment, stretch and strength together is a great combo. This will certainly work to decongest the connective tissue especially around the joints. Good posture will make you feel taller, actually make you slimmer and give litheness to your day to day movement. This is one of the aspects that I love so much about how Barre Warrior can reshape bodies. The technique sculpts long lean muscles, with lithe malleable fascia.
It all starts with Good Posture
Fascia under a microscope
The sheath that wraps around our entire body enabling smooth fluid movement