Written for the AHAH June 2018 Newsletter for Veterinary Professionals
To fully appreciate the effects that myofascial release can have on a biological body a few concepts must be introduced or revisited. Scientists originally built their ideas on a compression model. This is simply what happens when one brick is placed on another and the compression gives the structure stability. Scientists extrapolated this model to the human body so the head is placed on the neck which is placed on the thoracic spine etc. This model is now being questioned by many scientists like Tom Myers (of Anatomy Trains fame) and John F. Barnes. Buckminster Fuller, an architect, proposed the idea of tensegrity. Tensegrity is a concept in architecture and biology where a balance of tension and compression results in more efficiency and economy. Simply put, bones float inside the connective tissue. Watch this short video to understand the principle. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzgxYpDyO0M To describe it another way, tensegrity is a structural principle based on the use of isolated components in compression inside a net of continuous tension. Tensegrity structures hold the shape regardless of the orientation.
What does this have to do with myofascia and myofascial release? The second concept to consider is a definition of fascia. Fascia is a specialized system of the body that has an appearance similar to a spider’s web or a sweater. Fascia is very densely woven, covering and interpenetrating every muscle, bone, nerve, artery and vein, as well as, all of our internal organs including the heart, lungs, brain and spinal cord. The most interesting aspect of the fascial system is that it is not just a system of separate coverings. It is actually one continuous structure that exists from head to toe without interruption. In this way you can begin to see that each part of the entire body is connected to every other part by the fascia, like the yarn in a sweater. Another analogy would be to consider the vibrations created in a spider’s web when a fly is trapped. If one area is deformed then the entire structure is affected. Trauma, inflammatory responses, and/or surgical procedures create myofascial restrictions which then present in the body in different ways.
Fascia (connective tissue) can be seen as a liquid crystalline matrix.
Fascia Photo by Permission of Dr. JC Guimberteau
Fascia plays an important role in the support and function of our bodies, since it surrounds and attaches to all structures. In the normal healthy state, the fascia is relaxed and wavy in configuration. It has the ability to stretch and move without restriction. The fascia is not only connective tissue but also constitutive tissue. In other words, it is the tissue that makes the frame and gives organised and structural existence to the body. Our bodies function as one dynamic tissue continuum.
“Our bodies, modern architecture, and the universe itself are governed by laws of TENSEGRITY. The body is not a rigid skeleton with muscles and ligaments attached. It’s actually a delicate balance of tensile and compressive forces that hold all of the structures in perfect balance. When muscles become too strong or too weak, when ligaments are sprained, or when poor posture is the norm, we lose TENSEGRITY. The loss of TENSEGRITY is a leading cause of sports-related injuries and chronic pain syndromes.”
Dr. Chris Barnes
EquiCanis Canine Myofascial Release Course presented by Ruth Mitchell-Golladay PT, CMT, NCTMB, EBW – April 2018
Video: Strolling Under the Skin – for more insight https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=ky0BmGP5nbU
Photos used from guimberteau website