I know what you’re thinking, “Oh God, she’s on the fascia bandwagon. Again.”
See, I’ve become more and more convinced that it’s the connective tissues and the fibers between things that allow and prevent movement.
But here’s why I’ve pulled out these two quotes from two informative blog entries: I’ve recently started reading not only about the fascial network around muscles, bones and soft tissue, but also about the connective tissue in each cell. That’s right – each cell has pieces and parts of the connective tissue that we call fascia. Every cell has a little components of fascia in it that directs force and shape and energy through the cell.
This is important because it shows how our bodies are designed for movement and the transmission of energy and force at the cellular level. We don’t just move large pieces of us, like stopmotion limbs. With each breath, each movement of nutrients into and out of tissues, each transmission of electrical current up and down the nervous system our bodies retain the ability to move and to return to a base form.
The Connective tissue properties are determined by the local components of the Extracellular Matrix. In the case of Fascia, elastin and collagen fibers are secreted into the ECM along with ground substance by the connective tissue’s cellular components fibroblasts, mast cells, adipose cells, macrophages, plasma cells, and leukocytes to form this ever pervasive connective tissue network. This fascia network weaves its way through the body in every direction without interruption. It surrounds the cells of every nerve, blood vessel, organ, muscle and bone. An injury in one part of this dynamic web affects all other parts, which is why a client can have a resistant hyperextension in the upper cervical muscles as a result of a constricted planar fascia!
What’s that about cervical muscles and planar fascia? Your tight neck issue might be coming from your feet.
Here’s an easy experiment to try. Stand up right now and see how far down you can reach with a forward bend. Can you make it to your shins, the tops of your feet, fingers to the floor? Now, take a golfball and vigorously rub the bottom surface of your foot for 60 seconds on each foot. Then repeat the forward bend and see the difference in your flexibility.
These pieces of connective tissue are what’s holding you together, AND what circumscribes your limits. Massage of the feet affects the back and neck.
But I find the coolest part of the whole thing that these internal structures are used to detect and to provide support and transport during healing.
What happens when an injury occurs? How does healing affect this network of connective tissue? We have to remember that the body works in tiny pieces. Doctors sew muscles and tissue back together with a needle and thread. We use sutures and staples. But all we really do when we sew tissue back together is keep the pieces that are supposed to be next to each other neighbors while the body does it’s healing. The body has to figure out where the disruptions have occurred in its connective tissue. It has to get around compromised immune, circulatory, and muscular tissue.
Healing occurs at a cellular level. If the flow of energy in the living matrix is disrupted it can cause breakdowns decreasing the ability of the system to communicate and coordinate immune defenses and repair processes. Whether an injury is a gaping wound or a paper cut, the repair process is completed by the connective tissues and individual cells. The connective tissue fabric summons the cells needed for healing by sending a variety of potential signals through the matrix and the needed cells begin migrating to the injured tissues. Much of this cell migration takes place as cells break existing connections and make new ones along the connective tissue fabric – in essence the cells use the living matrix’s structural scaffolding to crawl to the injury.
The connective tissue has enough interwoven pieces connecting the insides and outsides of cells that it can detect when something has gone wrong and can figure out what type of cells to add to fix the problem. Oh, and by the way, the cell uses the interior and exterior structures to move itself or its tools to the area. How cool is that?
It’s a cool thing you’re walking around in right now. Keep it moving with massage and exercise.
Photo credit flickr.com CCL Patrick Hoesly