As any manual therapist will tell you, living, conscious tissue looks, feels and behaves very differently from what is described in the pages of anatomy textbooks.
Of course, we have long had machinery that can see into living bodies. Ultrasound scanners, X-ray, MRI, cannot detect important connective tissue restrictions. Fascial layers that are stuck together or under too little or too much tension do not show up.
What about living biopsies and surgery, surely these will have thrown some light on the subject?
Nope, anything that involves cutting, fundamentally changes the architecture of fascia.
However, in the last few years, Confocal-laser microscopy and tiny remote control cameras have made it possible to see beneath the skin. So that we can now observe the working structure and fluid dynamics of living fascia. And this is how (at last) it was officially confirmed that fascia is, in itself, interesting enough to be designated an organ.
As usual science takes a while to catch up truly visionary thinkers and biochemist Dr. Ida P Rolf was certainly one of those. She was telling her students about the importance of healthy fascia and how to work with it way back in the 1940s.
To be fair, fascia has been a focus of scientific inquiry for a small band of pioneers for over a decade. Each year the fascia research congress brings together scientists from around the world to share their ideas and new discoveries.
I attended the last fascia congress in Berlin in 2019 and so would like to share with you some of the highlights. So here we go with •••
Current thinking about human evolution says that we began life in the sea. Fish to amphibian to mammal to ape to homo sapien. WInterestingly, our interstitial fluid has the same chemical makeup as seawater. So, it seems that we came from the sea but brought the sea with us, inside our fascial matrix.
On many levels, our lives still move to the rhythms of the moon, the stars, and the oceans. The latest research seems to take that analogy a stage further. On a microscopic level, variations in fluid sheer affects the behaviour of fascial cells. Like tiny sea creatures carried along by the ebb and flow of undersea currents, minute variations in the rate of flow, pressure, and volume can cause fibroblasts to produce more collagen fibres to strengthen fascia, or more reticular or elastin fibres to make it more stretchy. Whilst other tidal movements may increase the production of mast cells leading to inflammation. Even though inflammation is a necessary part of any healing process, too much of it has the potential to cause fibrosis --- the medical name for scar tissue.
So there you have it, nine reasons to take care of your Fascia.
Keith Graham is a Certified Advanced Rolfer
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