How can I get firm thighs, a tight butt, and firm breasts?Those are the questions I ask myself every day when I look into the mirror. As far as I know I am not the only though… Traditionally, it is especially women that tend to be very worried about their outer appearance, although men have certainly caught up in the vanity department. There are many guides and references. Also some so-called miracle creams and drinks. Whether it is creams, drinks, laser treatments and electro stimulation: they all promise the solution. However, from my point of view there is no alternative to sport and a healthy diet. But what structures are responsible for the outer appearance of the aforementioned body regions anyways?
First, there is the connective tissue
What is connective tissue?Connective tissue is an intercellular substance that consists mostly of collagenous (protein-like) elastic fibers and a sticky liquid matrix. These constitute a net that forms our whole body and is also known as fascia. ‘Fascia are spatially separated and form-giving structures. They encase every single muscle, every bone, every organ, and even the nerves. Thus, they form a cobweb-like network. If you were to remove all organs, bones, muscles, and nerves there would remain only a milky-white shell with notches and corridors.’ (Markus Bremen (2013), Faszien – Struktur und Funktion; , german version only). If you look at the fascia structure more closely you can distinguish two different fascia layers:
- an outer layer (fascia superficialis)
- and a deeper layer (fascia profunda)
What influences the connective tissue?For one, there is a huge influence of genetic disposition (heredity). Unfortunately, you can’t influence that. But what you can influence are the following factors:
- drink a lot of water! ‘The connective tissue stores a lot of water and appears tighter if it contains enough water. It is also only possible to transport waste products that accumulate in the connective tissue to the kidney if there is enough water stored in it.’ (Dr. Nicolas Gumpert (2014),
- Eat lots of fruit, vegetables, and proteins Supplying it with micro nutrients and protein helps the body to develop and rebuild connective tissue cells. Especially the amino acids proline and lysine and vitamin C play a superior role. Additionally, the diet has major influence on the hormone balance which in turn has influence on the connective tissue. You can see that from the fact that it is especially sensitive during pregnancies and the menopause.
- Weight reduction Overweight heavily stretches the subcutaneous connective tissue. The inelastic fibers wear out! You should also avoid a huge weight reduction in a short time period with subsequent yo-yo effect. These seesaw changes damage your connective tissue.
- Activity Connective tissue needs activity. By activating the ‘muscle pump’ the blood flow is stimulated and the nutrient exchange is supported. Massages and hot and cold showers have the same effect. Be cautious with the hot and cold showers, though: don’t do it when you have a heart condition or problems with your cardiovascular system!