HandSpring Bodywork

Some Research About Fascia

A. T. Still, M.D.
Father of Osteopathy

While there are no articles in English about the technique known as Mechanical Link, there are many, too many to list, articles about fascia, connective tissue and its properties, composition and role in the body.

The text below each of the following citations is a brief paraphrase of the sense of the article. The articles are available for purchase from the publisher, or may be downloaded at no charge at a medical library.

The field of fascia research is quite new. The first Fascia Research Congress was held in 2007. However, the concept of treating the body as a whole, instead of a collection of separate parts has been around a long time. A. T. Still, the father of osteopathy and a man well ahead of his time, said in 1899 "...the fascia is the place to look for cause of disease and the place to consult and begin the action of remedies in all diseases...". Thousands of years earlier, healers in China were treating their patients with acupuncture to balance their whole systems in order to cure their illnesses.

Notes on Visceral Adhesions as Fascial Pathology

 

J Bodyw Mov Ther. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20538223 2010 Jul;14(3):255-61. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2009.10.005. Epub 2010 Apr 10. Notes on visceral adhesions as fascial pathology. JBMT, Vol 14, Issue 3, July 2010, pp. 255- 261 Gil Hedley

Gil Hedley, Ph.D, has dissected hundreds of gross anatomy specimens in a whole body, rather than regional, approach. This article reports some of his findings from these dissections. Simply put, normal healthy tissue in and surrounding the internal organs allows natural, sliding movement. Internal organs, whether through disease, inflammation and scarring or surgery or other processes, can become 'tied' or adhered to membranes and fascia layers. This can have an impact on normal organ function from trivial to debilitating.

Engraving of viscera: large and small intestine, bladder.

What is the fascial/connective tissue system?

 

Here's a riddle. What's the most abundant protein in the world, connects your chin to your toe, your stomach to your ear, your brain to your liver and connects all of them to each other at the same time? Could the pain in your knee somehow be related to your migraines?

 

Most people have never heard of fascia, (pronounced 'FASH-uh'), though the term 'plantarfasciitis' (pain on the bottom of the foot) is more familiar. However, the fascia on the bottom of the foot is just a small part of connective tissue system, which forms a living matrix that is present in every part of the body. It surrounds and interpenetrates all of the organs, bones, nerves, blood vessels, lymph glands, bones and muscles, even into the cell membranes. It holds the organs in place, forms the joints, surrounds the cardiovascular system and envelopes the brain. Researchers have found that fascia is a vast communication complex, which connects all the body's systems to each other with its many types of fibers and various sensory receptors.

 

The connective tissue system can be compared to a large 3-D net. It absorbs shocks and distributes the forces that impact us every time we take a step. A tug or strain in one part of the net is communicated to all other parts of the net, and effects the flow of fluids, the space within joints, and all other body processes. The system is quite resilient, and generally allows our bodies to withstand a wide range of events and insults. However, when we have reached the limit of our ability to compensate, pain and dysfunction result.

 

With their extensive anatomical knowledge and highly developed palpation skills, Mechanical Link practitioners are able to find the point of greatest restriction in the fascia/connective tissue system and release it. You might find out that the pain in your knee AND your migraines are related both related to the scar on your head from a long-ago accident in third grade, for example. It's all connected!

Fascia and the Mechanism of Acupuncture

 

Finando S., Finando D., J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2011 Apr;15(2):168-76. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2010.03.001. PMID: 21419357

The authors reconsider the current thinking about the mechanism of acupuncture therapy, and suggest that acupuncture may work by its stimulating effect on the fascial system, which is continuous throughout the body. Restrictions or deformations in the fascia impair movement, therefore function is impaired.

Tensegrity and Mechanotransduction

 

Ingber, D., Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies (2008) doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2008.04.038

Mechanotransduction is defined as how cells sense mechanical forces and convert them to changes in biochemistry. Our entire bodies use 'tensegrity architecture', (a combination of tension and integrity) for stability and communication. Changes in fascial structure is communicated instantly on both a cellular and molecular level.

An example of a tensegrity structure

Twenty-Year-Old Pathogenic "Active" Postsurgical Scar:

 

A Case Study of a Patient with Persistent Right Lower Quadrant Pain 
Kobesova, A., Morris, C., Lewit, K., Safarova, M., Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, (2007) doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2007.01.005

A case study of a patient with persistent abdominal and low back pain who experienced relief after manual therapy on an old appendectomy scar. This is consistent with my clinical experience.

Mature hysterectomy scar, contributor to hip pain.

Fascia: A missing link in our understanding of the pathology of fibromyalgia

 

Liptan, G., Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, (2009) doi:10,1016/j.jbmt.2009.08.003

The cause of fibromyalgia (FM) is unclear, though there is evidence that people who suffer from FM may have chronic excess tension in their fascial/connective system, which makes them more sensitive and reactive to painful stimulation. Manipulative therapy that addresses this system seem to be more effective than painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs for FM patients.

Connective Tissue: a body-wide signaling network?

 

Langevin, HM, Med Hypotheses. 2006;66(6):1074-7. Epub 2006 Feb 17.

Connective tissue surrounds and penetrates and communicates with all other tissues (e.g. lung, intestine, nerves, blood vessels). It can therefore affect and be affected by the function of any organ system. Knowledge of the existence of such a connective, communicating network may influence our understanding of health and disease.

The Fascia: the Forgotten Structure.

 
 
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