Good question! That is what researchers around the world are trying to figure out. For centuries the anatomists have cut it away while looking at the bodily structures assuming it was unimportant. But now we have a new appreciation for what fascia is and what its function is. To understand the fascia within your body, you first need to eat an orange and then go fly a kite … or fishing. (Of course you can also go to www.biotensegrity.com for a thorough treatment of the concepts. )
The Orange … or grapefruit … or even a raspberry?
If you eat any of those things, you will notice that individual segments make up the whole. Each of those juicy segments are made up of more smaller individual segments. All put together to make the whole. Our bodies are the same way. The smallest segment is a cell, surrounded by fascia. Some of the largest segments are muscles, larger still are arms and legs. All these are surrounded by fascia. Fascia even runs between everything. Hold on to your hat for this one. Bones are a fascial matrix filled in with minerals and blood vessels. In the body, fascia is so prevalent, early anatomists would identify the larger sheaths but ignore everything else. Why? The amount of fascia within our body is overwhelming. For years everyone ignored it and its function, thinking it was inconsequential.
Now to understand the importance of fascia and how it can affect the body, we need to go fly a kite or fishing. Very rarely, when we fish or fly a kite, do we appreciate the sensory miracle that is happening through that line. We can feel what is happening several feet away. We fail to understand that the line is held in our hands and goes all the way to our toes! Depending on the wind or size of fish, we actually have to dig our feet into the dirt or side of the boat to keep the kite or big fish from getting away. The same thing happens within our bodies. A tug on one end of the fascial matrix can affect things far away in another area. These effects happen all the time. When they affect pain sensitive structures and cause pain, we call them “pain patterns”.
A Myofascial Therapists job is to locate the myofascial restrictions causing pain. A restriction can best be thought of a tangled mess or knot in the kite line, or a jammed up fishing reel. Something in our bodies is not moving well. It is stuck. That is why Myofascial Therapists are so hooked on movement.
Actually, the first thing a good therapist does is listen to their clients story. Then we talk about movement or the lack there of. Posture and ergonomics is often a clue to what is going on. Lastly, we touch and feel the suspected areas. I close my eyes and let my hands and fingers see what is going on. How does it move? Restrictions are just that, a lack of movement within the tissues.
In later blogs I will address more completely the current discovery in fascia research. It is fascinating what is happening underneath our skin.
The questions is, are your fascial restrictions causing pain patterns?