Fascia can now be considered to be all our connective tissue apart from bones and cartilage.
It’s a vast web of differing fibrous tissue which supports an extra cellular matrix of cells and fibres. It is the ‘regulator of our biomechanical system’. Fascia is a juicy topic for academics, anatomists, doctors and soft tissue specialists. A new understanding of human anatomy emphasises interconnectedness seeing the body as a vast interconnected series of bags within bags. This challenges long held views of muscles as separate units with a beginning and end,(origin and insertion.)
We can no longer see a hamstring injury without considering the family chain of tissue it belongs to and the surrounding and distant tissues it influences. So if you have tight hamstrings you could begin and look at the toes and the plantar fascia on soles of the feet. Then, follow the whole line upwards, calves, hamstrings, glutei, back muscles, neck, scalp fascia, ending at the eye brows. Surprisingly, this is a whole fascial train which can influence tension and integrity all over the body.
This is why a competent sports therapist or bodyworker can address tissue issues from this perspective of interconnectedness. So next time you have an injury or are tight or limited in an area of your body. Consider the issue in a pattern that needs treating not just the site of the injury or concern. Releasing the feet can release the calves, hamstrings and back. The converse is true with releasing scalp fascia.
Fascia – key points
- Different types of fascia include: deep and superficial and epimysial fascia which surrounds muscle. Differing techniques are used to work with these in clinical practice.
- Fascia can follow chains of tissue all over and through the body, so changes in superficial tissue can effect deeper layers.
- Fascia has sensory-proprioceptive qualities. In fact it has more nerve fibres than muscles.
- It is the key way we move and is responsible for transmission of force. 30-40 percent of muscle force goes through fascia. (Huijing, 2009)
- Our spines are held together by a sea of fascia maintaining our ‘tensegrity’.
- Tensegrity = tension and integrity like a spiders web..one point moves which influences tension and shape elsewhere.
- Fascia allows us to exist as interconnected bags within bags with no real separation only dissection or words separate us into discrete units according to James Earls.
- It responds to stress and acid alkaline balance.
- For example fascia will respond to Co2 to oxygen ratio which influence acid alkaline balance. The more acidic the body the more fascia tightens. So all mind-body breathing exercises influence the fascia in this way. So get breathing! Also understand how and alkaline diet can benefit your fascia and whole health.
- It is now thought the tighter the fascia the more it is a good medium for cancer tumours to grow according to Dr. Patricia Keely at the University Wisconsin. (http://crb.wisc.edu/faculty/keely.asp)
Resources for the curious.
1) Dr Patricia Keely
2) Anatomy Trains -Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapist
I am made of a spider’s web
of gluey strands linked from front to back
up and down and in and out
bones, sinews, muscles all connect
with a fascial web that knows my
heart,my viscera,skin and lungs
beyond dissection and analysis
where I start or begin who knows
all these tissues are my true clothes.
P McGregor July 2016