Fascia is a specialized system of connective tissue that has an appearance similar to a spider's web, citrus membranes, or even, in a way, a sweater. In places, fascia is thinner and as translucent as saran wrap. In other places, it is very thick and densely woven. This tissue covers and interpenetrates every muscle, bone, nerve, artery and vein, as well as, all of our internal organs including the heart, lungs, brain and spinal cord.
The most interesting aspect of the fascial system is that it is not just a system of separate coverings. It is a single continuous and highly networked structure that exists from head to toe, without interruption. In this way, you can begin to see that each part of the entire body is connected to every other part by the fascia, like the yarn in a sweater.
Here are a few fun facts you may not know about fascia:
- fascia is elastic
- fascia is intelligent
- fascia gives us our human shape!
Fascia gets its elasticity from Elastin. It gets its intelligence from its investment of neurotransmitters (the workerbees sending information to and from your brain). Until the last 10 years or so, Rolfers relied on personal experience and forensic science to tell us what (little) we knew about fascia. Only relatively recently has the scientific community become invested in the function fascia and the potential of myofascial research.
Because fascia is both elastic and intelligent, we as myofascial therapists can help effect the tone and quality of fascial tissue through our specific techniques. And because fascia is very literally responsible for the shape of our bodies, Rolfing helps reshape biomechanical connections in the body at every level.
It is worth noting that trauma, inflammatory responses, and/or surgical procedures create myofascial restrictions that can produce tensile pressures of approximately 2,000 pounds per square inch on pain sensitive structures that do not show up in many of the standard tests (x-rays, myelograms, CAT scans, electromyography, etc.). Thats ONE FULL TON of pressure! Because of the relative disregard for myofascial tissues by the predominating medical community, a
high percentage of people suffering with pain and/or lack of motion may be having fascial problems, but are not diagnosed.