We don’t precisely know how fascia works, nor do we understand exactly what function in the body it serves. We, as hands-on practitioners, know that we are performing a valuable healing service, but how do we prove scientifically that what we do works? I have suspected for a long time that fascia has a lot more to do with other important functions than merely (though importantly) the posture of the body. However, the article below, sent to me by my friend, Chattanooga-based bodyworker Lisa Flores, should prove to be informative as it sheds insight on the function of this important tissue from both scientific and an empirical view points!
The article at the link above — “How a mysterious body part called fascia is challenging medicine”, by Robert T. Gonzales — raises some valid points that bear further consideration regarding what we know about the function of connective tissue in the human body.
> Like a spider web
We know that fascia is like a spider web or a knitted sweater in patterning, as it is made out of fibrous collagenous tissue, and that it surrounds and binds muscles together. In SMT – Synergetic™ Myofascial Therapy — we spend a lot of time working the fascial lining in between muscles, thereby creating space and improving functional movement. We also use active movement by our clients to facilitate a better “letting go” of the tissue than if the client was totally passive and relaxed. In SMT, we like for the client to participate in the session. We take before-and-after pictures so that we can monitor changes in their posture.
The proof we have is not scientific. We can see the changes in our before-and-after pictures, and our clients can feel the changes themselves and tend to come back for more, in spite of the fact that our work is not overly pleasant to receive initially.
> Studying the mysterious tissue
I have heard the stories about the first fascia research congress in Boston in October of 2007. By all accounts, it was a strange mix of scientists and fascial body workers, all interested in gaining a greater understanding of the role and function of this mysterious tissue in the human body. Perhaps the scientists had a hunch about why structural myofascial bodywork is so effective in relieving various aches and pains and tends to get clients to sit and stand up straighter after receiving the care than before. Perhaps the bodyworkers could describe what they see in their clients and feel in their hands as they provide this modality of care. This is one convention I would like to attend one day.
Dr. Andrew Still was the founder of Ostheopathy in the late 1800’s. Since I have been studying Visceral manipulation with the Barral Institute, I have gotten very interested not only about Dr Still’s writings with regard to fascia in particular, but also about his theories concerning the human body more broadly. The article speaks about the organizer of the International Fascia Research Congress, Thomas Findley MD, and how he is influenced by Dr. Stills work. Below is a quote from the article: “How a mysterious body part called fascia is challenging medicine”, by Robert T. Gonzales:
“The essay reveals how much Dr. Findley’s work is influenced by Dr. Still’s Osteopathic philosophy, which he summarizes in four points*:
- 1. The human body functions as a total biologic unit
- 2. The body possesses self-healing and self-regulatory mechanisms
- 3. Structure and function are interrelated, and
- 4. Abnormal pressure in one part of the body produces abnormal pressures and strains upon other parts of the body.” *
I always use these four concepts in my work as a way of helping to assess and understand what I am seeing in my clients.
So, to summarize, I am very passionate about my fascial and visceral bodywork, and I hope for more conclusive scientific research that illuminates what we do as a practice.
Yours in health,
Magnus Eklund LMT 144
Special Thanks to my friend, Chattanooga-based bodyworker Ms. Lisa Flores, who sent me the article this blog was based on. Lisa has just recently returned from a lab at the University of Miami focused on human dissection, the aim of which is to further her understanding of the human body.
Sources: *”How a mysterious body part called fascia is challenging medicine”, by Robert T. Gonzales
Disclaimer: Magnus is not a medical doctor and does not claim to treat or diagnose medical issues. Massage Therapists are trained in hands-on techniques that promote overall wellbeing. If you have a medical issue, please consult with your primary health care provider.