Back in 490 BC, the Greek man Phidippides had the dubious honor of running the world’s first marathon (which was actually more like 150 miles). While he was able to notify his countrymen about an impending Spartan invasion, he doubtlessly suffered from pain after his ordeal. After all, the human body can be pushed to do incredible feats but not without consequences. In 2023, pro and amateur athletes are still searching for solutions for their chronic knee pain and other issues. Fortunately, our understanding of the human body has evolved. Phidippides might have been interested in a little-known word that is having a big impact on the sports world today: fascia. Coach Chong Xie is a fascia educator, researcher, and coach; a member of the Fascia Research Society; and the founder of Hyperarch Fascia Training. He offered to give some insights into fascia and why it can help unlock athletic performance and training.
“Fascia is a network of connective tissue that surrounds and supports your muscles, organs, and bones,” Coach Xie explains. “It facilitates optimal muscle contraction. Crucially, each person has a unique level of fascia connections. This matters because when an athlete is injured, many recoveries are based on established ‘go-to’ procedures based on muscle without fascia.”
Coach Xie already had a decade of experience when he became interested in fascia and its relationship with the feet and glutes. He says that while an athlete might benefit from a recovery regime that incorporates standard treatment options, if they fail to take into account a person’s unique fascia connections, they might not be as effective as they could be.
“Fascia and its role in the recovery process has been overlooked and misunderstood for many years, so I decided to research it so that I could tailor an athlete’s recuperation. My goal was that this would lead to better athletic performance and overall wellness,” he says.
Through his research, Coach Xie developed the Fascia-Focused Approach, which emphasizes the importance of fascia in athletic performance. Two-time UFC Champion Zhang Weili was an early adopter of this type of training, and Coach Xie also works with UFC, MLS, Laliga, EPL, and other high-profile individuals.
Professional Footballer Pione Sisto says, “It makes sense with…me specifically having the issues I had before coming to [Coach Xie] and why it has increased in a positive way. It comes back to the fascia and…to the muscles being fascia-driven.”
Coach Xie is also working with Dr. Robert Schleip, an internationally recognized fascia expert and researcher. Dr. Schleip’s work has shown that fascia is a dynamic tissue that responds to stress and movement and that training the fascia can impact an athlete’s performance and reduce the risk of injury.
The two men aim to educate the public about the importance of fascia in mainstream sports training and recently led a public webinar. The discussion highlighted current fascia research as well as the need for fascia to be included in muscle training programs, which traditionally focus on strength and endurance through weight lifting and cardio.
“We would like to see new standards for sports performance training,” says Coach Xie. “We can all agree that more well-being and less risk of injury are important for anyone. Understanding the role of fascia in these goals is important for athletes of any level.”
Today, Coach Xie continues to help more athletes to regain their speed and agility after an injury and mainstream rehab, with the goal of ending the chronic injury cycle.
“When you are hurt, few things matter more than overcoming it and getting back in the gym or playing again,” he says. “To optimize your recovery, be sure to consult with your physician about fascia so that all of your bases, so to speak, will be covered.”
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