You already know there are 4 kinds of tissues in our body, connective tissue is one of these. Anatomically talking it is a kind of biological tissue that connects, supports and separates the different types of tissues and organs of the body… it’s a big category including bones, blood, fat, cartilage and more.
Nervous tissue controls everything, muscular tissue moves everything, epithelial tissue is the external clothing of the body and the internal lining of some organs… all the rest is connective tissue!
From our yogic point of view we’ll focus on 4 types of connective tissue: tendons, ligaments, cartilage and fascia.
Why? Easy answer… we work with them a lot during our practice and it’s important to know them to practice in total safety… we practice to feel good and better, if we know our body we can easily get this result… if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can’t expect the best result, possibly you could even get the worst… this rule is applicable on every aspect of our life, do you agree?
1- Tendon: it’s dense fibrous connective tissue that attaches muscles to bones
2- Ligament: it’s dense fibrous connective tissue that attaches bone to bone
3- Cartilage: it can have different functions, we’re here interested to the protective and smoothing function of the cartilage covering the bone extremities in our articular joints
4- Fascia: all your muscles and organs are wrapped by fascial sheaths, everything in you is enveloped and supported by a single unique fascial web interconnecting all from your toes to your head!
We already talked of this stuff -> here, here and here! Probably it’s better if you read or read again those articles rather than repeating the same stuff, do you agree? About fascia we’ll talk deeper in a following article, fascia is much more important than how it’s traditionally considered!
Their composition is quite similar, they all have in common the presence of 2 proteins, collagen and elastin, in different proportions. As the name says, they have 2 specific functions, quite opposite in nature (remember this? it’s another case of the 2 forces working together!)
1- collagen gives strength to these tissues
2- elastin gives them the capacity to stretch at a certain level when a force is applied and to go back to the original state when the force stops
They’re present in bones and muscles as well, in different proportions… we should not consider bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles as different “objects”… but as the same one thing with different proportions of their -similar- ingredients… there is the bone that is very hard because of large amount of collagen and very small of elastin… the mix starts changing and the structure is a bit more elastic but still very strong… we call it tendon… the proportion changes again and it becomes a softer and more elastic tissue that we call muscle… on the other side of this tissue the proportion changes again becoming more harder and we have again a tendon that in turn will become even less elastic and more hard… we have a bone again… got this concept? We give many names to the various aspects of the same one thing… if you don’t agree it’s all the same one thing try to imagine it without one of its aspects, for example take out from the organism the muscular system (we could not move anymore… how could we get our nutrition?) or simply one substance as elastin (now we’re hard as rocks, what to do?) or the connective tissue (ready to fall apart?!?!). To understand how it works we gave many names… otherwise how could you be tested at school on the argument eheheh!!?!?
What should be our attitude towards them during our practice?
First… We have to keep in mind that we are strengthening them… the more you use (in a good way!) the more it’s reinforced… usual fact isn’t it? If you know that and you have the concept present in your attitude while you’re exercising… magically it will happen even more… it’s a trick of using your thought power in the proper way eheheh!
Second… when you stretch you should really forget tendons and ligaments… i mean you must not focus on stretching them, not even try! They’re there to give stability to your joints, they’re mostly made of collagen, elastin is there for not to break easily… ligaments can elongate safely around 4%… that is nothing, maybe 1 mm? Would you like to risk to stretch them so much to tear or not to go back to the size stabilizing the joint to gain 1 or 2 mm? Your muscles must stretch, there you’ll gain centimeters over time!
Third… alignment and awareness please!!! Your cartilages like to be used in the proper way, the force bearing on the maximum possible surface (joint congruence)… not all on a single square millimeter in a goofy attempt to try a difficult pose without proper awareness of what’s happening in your body!
Fourth… the fascia, that’s what you want to work on!!! Soon an article about that!