Without going into a tremendous amount of detail, I would like to create a living image of fascia.
Dr. Still said: “I know of no part of the body that equals the fascia as a hunting ground”
Consider a membranous envelope that glistens with a sticky lubricating fluid. A continuous envelope that extends from head to toe, front to back, surrounding every organ, every blood vessel, every nerve, every bone, every muscle and fibre.
An envelope that changes thickness as it extends from region to region. Its purpose: to support and lubricate.
An example of its function: it prevents the muscle it surrounds from catching on its neighbouring muscles as it contracts.
Anatomists have broken this continuous sheath of tissue into small pieces, ignoring the continuity and giving the same structure different names as it passes from one part of the body to the next. It is the continuity of this lubricating supportive envelope that that helps us understand its function.
The tendency of anatomists to break it down into little pieces confuses and disorients us and interferes with our ability to understand the fundamental osteopathic principle of UNITY OF FUNCTION.
Microscopically, fascia is composed of collagen and elastin. Giving the appearance of a 3-D spider’s web, this is part of the reason it has such strength, withstanding over 2000 lbs. per square inch.
Collagen is arranged in tiny micro-tubules. Form follows function. The tubules must transport something. That something is generally considered to be “tissue fluids”.
Blood vessels and nerves travel within the fascia to arrive at their designated end organs. In turn, fascia itself receives a profound number of nerve endings. The fascia is a fundamental structure in which the circulatory system and nervous system converge.
“All…nerves go to and terminate in that great system, the fascia”.
Fascial continuity, its nervous system investments and vascular relationships clearly demonstrate how all parts work together. The Body Functions as a Unit.
Pull on a persons arm, they feel it in their shoulder and neck, even if only the skin is fractioned. Fascia is like a sweater. If you pull one part of it, it has an effect on the whole unit.
In health, fluids flow with relative ease from one fascial compartment to the next.
When a traumatic injury pattern is established, the fascia twists, compresses and buckles. The transport of various fluids and nerve stimuli becomes obstructed and physiology becomes impaired.
In treatment, the continuity of fascia becomes practically applied on a daily basis. When the fascia becomes compressed or twisted, the tensions are transmitted along the fascial planes.
Thus an individual may experience hip pain, but the tissues might be restricted much lower down, in the ankle, pulling on that hip. This transmission of tension through the fascia is referred to as Fascial Drag.
“This connecting substance must be free at all parts to receive and discharge all fluids and use them in sustaining animal life and eject all impurities, that health may not be impaired by dead and poisonous fluids.”
Osteopathic type treatment is oriented towards unwinding these fascial strains and re-establishing fluid continuity throughout the body.
“We live and breathe through our fascia”.
“By its action we live and by its failure we die”
“When our fascia is free, we are free”.
“The soul of man, with all the streams of pure living water, seems to dwell in the fascia of his body”