Myofascia is a flexible network of tissue that surrounds, cushions, and supports muscles, bones, and organs, and at the microscopic level, its structure are microtubules that transfer nutrients, sensory input and act as a riverbed containing the flow of interstitial fluid; which is a critical influence on the immune and hormonal systems. Fascia is also our protective barrier and our primitive shock absorber that sits on top of and intertwined within our muscles and organs. In daily life, this connective tissue is an underlying determinant of movement quality, free flow of energy within the tissue, mood, alertness, and general well-being.
On Thursday night I was given the opportunity to come out to a Police Judo class at SFU, operated and instructed by Vancouver Police Officers with Odd Squad Productions; Sgt. Toby Hinton and Al Arsenault. Both Judo and Yoga activate the deep arm fascia and, as we know shoulder and elbow injuries are common place in both of these sports. When postures or arm locks are performed incorrectly, or when too much force is applied, this can lead to serious injury if not performed correctly.
As part of our Shouldering Responsibility series, our focus is going to be two fold (1) to showcase the importance of the fascia system in relation to Judo and Yoga (2) to educate on proper shoulder stability and “shoulder packing” which is used frequently in both Yoga and in Judo, primarily in arm locking, counterbalance/ transfer of energy and integration of the nervous system and communicating our visceral threshold.
Judo (otherwise known as the “gentle way”) is a martial art rooted in combat sport, grappling and joint maneuvering. Very practical for law enforcement and relative tactical training, but it’s also very closely linked to Yoga because of the grace and flow and mutual respect between the teacher and the student.
A style of Yoga closely linked to martial arts; (one that I have been practicing quite recently) is called Prasara Yoga; which embodies the 3rd mode of Hatha yoga, incorporating both Asana practice and Vinyasa, or breath linkage. Prasara Yoga is founded by Scott Sonnon, formerUSAnational martial arts team coach, international champion and internationally acclaimed Yoga Teacher and Author. This style of Yoga provides counterbalance to the body through dynamic flow and resyncing the breath through movement and structure.
The Fascia System: Integrative Primitive Patterning
The fascia lines that deeply affect shoulder stability and engagement can be broken down into smaller, integrated segments, such as the:
- Fascia over deltoid
- Subscapular fascia
- Supraspinous fascia
- Infraspinous fascia
- Pectoral and axillary fascia
- Clavipectoral fascia
For a review of the deep arm lines please see our previous article from week 2 (Shouldering Responsibility: When Mobility Goes Over(your)head). Most injuries are connective-tissue (fascial) injuries, not muscular injuries—so how do we best train to prevent and repair damage and build elasticity and resilience into the system.
All of these fascia lines come into play in both the arm locks in Judo, and shoulder stands/inversions in Yoga. As previously mentioned, we have 4 joints to consider when loading the shoulder and arm or counter locking when force is applied. These joints are the glenohumeral joint (GHJ), acromioclavicular joint (ACJ), and the sternoclavicular joint (SCJ), and the The scapulothoracic joint.
Keeping the integrity and movement of all 4 joints within the shoulder complex; to maintain scapular stablity on the tspine as the scapula rotates upwards, the scapula’s position on the tspine has to be maintained through the application of force to full posture or to full joint lock out.This requires what is now being called shoulder packing, – maintain the scapula’s position on the tspine while it upwardly rotates, making sure the sub-acromial space is not compromised.
As I engaged with the movements I realized how important the role of the fascia system is, by way of communicating the visceral response to joint locking and nervous system integration. In Yoga, most of our transitional poses (downward facing dog, rockstar pose, shoulder stands and head stands) require a great deal of shoulder and upper extremity stability. There seems to be some confusion as to what packing the shoulder actually is, when to do it and why.
Keeping the shoulder packed does not mean to limit or stop the normal scapulo-humeral rhythm in an overhead movement or subduing an opponent. In fact, packing the shoulder will actually reinforce and create proper overhead movement mechanics, as well as “turn on” the deep arm fascia which enhances sensory output and nervous system integration with the fascia reinforcing the intentional focus on proper motor-programming.
In shoulder stands and inversions, as well as in arm locks which are followed after the basic throw thechniques in Judo – known as the Ashi Guruma (Foot Wheel) and Deashi Harai (Advancing Foot Sweep). There needs to be simultaneous engagement of the lat, serratus, and traps in the proper sequence as the humeurus moves into the overhead position.
This keeps the scapula stable on the tspine while it properly upwardly rotates, allowing the rotator cuff to build and maintain tension for humeral stability, keeping the humerus in the glenoid with the proper PICR as it moves into the overhead position. This keeps the sub-acromial space uncompromised and impingement potential at its lowest.
To see this in action, I came across this video by way of Jena Fraser, RMT and West Vancouver Chiropractor, Dr. Carla Cupido at Baseline Health, this video represents how shoulder packing protects the shoulder joints (gleno-humeral [GH] & acromio-clavicular [AC]).
Watch how space is preserved and structures aren’t jamming into each other when the subject raises their arm for a overhead press using fluoroscopy imaging:
1. With no shoulder packing – muscling the arm up – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=bkJi23yKTDs
2. With shoulder packing – a stable complex/proper biomechanics – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ibmcNJta5vk
Flouroscopy of the shoulder complex: Video found via Jena Fraser, RMT with LifeMark Richmond Oval and Dr. Carla Cupido with Baseline Health -West Vancouver Chiropractor.
Scott Sonnon Prasara Yoga – http://www.prasarayoga.com/index.php
Scott Sonnon – http://www.rmaxinternational.com/flowcoach/
Vancouver Police Department Police Judo – http://vancouver.ca/police/about/judo-club.html
Odd Squad Productions – http://www.oddsquad.com/