Fascia training

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Fascia training describes sports activities and movement exercises that attempt to improve the functional properties of the muscular connective tissues in the human body, such as tendons, ligaments, joint capsules and muscular envelopes. Also called fascia, these tissues take part in a body-wide tensional force transmission network and are responsive to training stimulation.[1]


Whenever muscles and joints are moved this also exerts mechanical strain on related fascia. The general assumption in sports science had therefore been that muscle strength exercises as well as cardiovascular training would be sufficient for an optimal training of the associate fibrous connective tissues. However, recent[when?] ultrasound-based research revealed that the mechanical threshold for a training effect on tendinous tissues tends to be significantly higher than for muscle fibers. This insight happened roughly during the same time in which the field of fascia research attracted major attention by showing that fascial tissues are much more than passive transmitters of muscular tension (years 2007 – 2010). Both influences together triggered an increasing attention in sports science towards the question whether and how fascial tissues can be specifically stimulated with active exercises.[2][3][4]


Fascia training follows the following principles:[3]

  1. Preparatory counter-movement (increasing elastic recoil by pre-stretching involved fascial tissues);
  2. The Ninja principle (focus on effortless movement quality);
  3. Dynamic stretching (alternation of melting static stretches with dynamic stretches that include mini-bounces, with multiple directional variations);
  4. Proprioceptive refinement (enhancing somatic perceptiveness by mindfulness oriented movement explorations);
  5. Hydration and renewal (foam rolling and similar tool-assisted myofascial self-treatment applications);
  6. Sustainability: respecting the slower adaptation speed but more sustaining effects of fascial tissues (compared with muscles) by aiming at visible body improvements of longer time periods, usually said to happen over 3 to 24 months.


While good to moderate scientific evidence exists for several of the included training principles – e.g. the inclusion of elastic recoil as well as a training of proprioceptive refinement – there is currently insufficient evidence for the claimed beneficial effects of a fascia oriented exercises program as such, consisting of a combination of the above described four training elements.[5]

Self-myofascial release using a foam roller or roller massager pre- and post-exercise has been observed to decrease soreness due to DOMS. Self-myofascial release appears to have no negative effect on performance. [6]


  1. ^ Robert Schleip, "Fascia as a Sensory Organ" in: Erik Dalton, Dynamic Body Exploring Form, Expanding Function. Freedom from Pain Institute, Oklahoma City pp 137–163
  2. ^ Swanson RL, 2nd (January 2013). "Biotensegrity: a unifying theory of biological architecture with applications to osteopathic practice, education, and research--a review and analysis". The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. 113 (1): 34–52. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2013.113.1.34. PMID 23329804.
  3. ^ a b Divo G. Müller & Robert Schleip: Fascial Fitness – Suggestions for a fascia oriented training approach in sports and movement therapies. In: R. Schleip, T. W. Findley, L. Chaitow, P. A. Huijing (eds): Fascia – the tensional network of the human body. The science and clinical applications in manual and movement therapy. Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh 2009, p. 465-467. ISBN 978-0702034251
  4. ^ Schleip, Robert; Müller, Divo Gitta (2013). "Training principles for fascial connective tissues: Scientific foundation and suggested practical applications". Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 17 (1): 103–15. doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2012.06.007. PMID 23294691.
  5. ^ Schleip R., Baker A.: Fascia in Sport and Movement. Handspring Publishing 2015, ISBN 978-1-909141-07-0
  6. ^ Schroeder, AN; Best, TM (2015). "Is self myofascial release an effective preexercise and recovery strategy? A literature review". Current Sports Medicine Reports. 14 (3): 200–8. doi:10.1249/JSR.0000000000000148. PMID 25968853. S2CID 5976175. There appears to be some basis for the use of the SMR technique via a foam roller or roller massager for preexercise, for maintenance, and to aid recovery following exercise. SMR has been observed to decrease soreness following DOMS, which may indirectly enhance performance by allowing the individual to exercise longer and harder. The direct effect of SMR on performance may be duration dependent and remains in question. At the very least, SMR appears to have no negative effect on performance, with a few studies showing increase in performance. Yet another benefit of SMR is its ability to increase ROM. There has been little published work on the mechanism of SMR; however, animal studies using MLL following EEX have shown that immediate MLL is more beneficial than delayed MLL but MLL duration has no significant effects on recovery. In conclusion, SMR via a foam roller or roller massager may be a valuable tool for exercising individuals, allowing the individuals to self-treat at a time (i.e., immediately following exercise) and a frequency (i.e., several times a day) convenient for him or her by eliminating the need for a massage therapist. Studies to date suggest that SMR may have beneficial effects on both recovery from EEX and precompetition.