Fascia: The missing link in manual therapy
Physiology of Fascia
Essentially Fascia is a connective tissue. A matrix that creates a full body system of sheets, chords and bags that wrap, divide and permeate every one of our muscles, bones, nerves, blood vessels and organs. It’s made up primarily of collagen fibres and a mucous, gel like fluid, which feeds, nourishes and keeps the moisture within the structures to help their flexibility. How flexible, strong, and supportive the fascia is, is directly determined by the amount of collagen fibers and their direction. E.g. the fascia supporting our heart will be denser, more solid, as more protection is needed, than the fascia surrounding our rotator cuff, where more flexibility is required for the complex range of movement’s at the shoulder joint.
The missing link and why
Fascia is the missing link in manual therapy. The discovery of its complexity and importance is still being researched. The anatomy books are being re-written. Its sensory connection to our central nervous system is being realised. It has more nerve receptors than the muscle tissue and as 30% of the power we use comes from the fasciae proprioceptors (nerve response receivers) rather than the muscles its highly important that our fascia can move without restriction, because as the fibers stretch a chain reaction is set off in our muscular cells to enable them to flex or contract.
Your fascia has specific channels that create a chain reaction, through the muscle groups and fascia in order for it to complete the movement required. Try Raising your arm above your head, stretch up, you will feel your muscles and fascia pull and all the way from your wrist into your lower back, a slight twist and another chain reaction is activated. Its important to treat the whole chain in order to resolve the issue, or else the body will revert to its dysfunctinal pattern.
Support your own fascia
As we get older. Collagen degrades. Support your Collagen fibers with the right food;
flax seed, red fruits, leafy greens, prunes, beans, turkey, manuka honey.. And gotta love this one!! …CHOCOLATE!!!
Our bodies need hydration to feed the fascia. That’s means more water. Not coffee, tea cordial, coke or even herbal tea. . Just WATER!!
Your body and your emotional well being.
So how does your fascia affect your emotional well-being. To understand how the physical can affect the less tangible emotional. You need to understand a little bit of body mechanics and posture.
Fascia determines the shape of our body, repetitive action will encourage strength in the muscles and the fascia hardens as the mucous dries, through lack of alternate movement. Any type of repetitive action will eventually have an adverse effect on the body unless action is taken to counteract it.
Imagine. a typically, very stressed, unhappy person walking hunched over, head bowed, looking at their feet, shoulders rolling forward. Pain will likely have started. Pain needs to be treated as a warning. Not to be ignored and pushed through. Typically pain starts in the mid upper back, and as dysfunctional patterns become stronger and create even more dysfunctional patterns, to take the pressure off the already stressed areas, headaches and lower back issues will follow. Often knee pain, elbow pain will show as well.
The pain cycle
Shallow breathing develops due to the lungs being restricted, stress hormones are released, and pain has become part of the pattern. The blood flow is being restricted to the brain, the central nervous systems messages to our organs are challenged, our organs are struggling to function, foggy brain develops impeding our mental function, our energy levels diminish. Your body is under stress, the brain increases the stress hormones, by sending out adrenaline it reduces pain but it’s only temporary as the level of pain soon intensifies sometimes moving elsewhere. The cycle begins again.
Feeling low/Depression/ anxiety
Our natural exuberance for life is now seriously being depleted, our chi/prana/vibrational energy is diminished. We begin to loose sight of what’s important; we begin to stop looking after ourselves and those we love. We get stuck in the rut. We no longer exercise, life becomes dull and the need for spiritual support becomes less important, we stop opening up to others and allowing others to open up to us.
Next question how does Bowen help? Surely it can't help all that!!
Well yes it can. Bowen typically begins in the the lower spine, setting up the body for the healing. Progressing up either side of the spine to the base of the neck. Both shoulder joint are released, the hips are released with deliberately targeted At this point the body is left to relax, to allow the changes within the fascia to happen naturally, not under duress, in a deeply relaxed state the body begins to uunravel.
From there on in, the treatment is determined by what your body is requiring. Generally the same release points are used, deep hip flexors released, the gluteal muscles, hip rotators and the piriformis and sciatic nerve targeted.
A few more rests, your subconscious brain, learns that the space its being treated in is a safe haven. That it is ok to let go. This is when the deep changes take place. The Central Nervous system starts to recalibrate. Breathing returns to normal, hip alignment is achieved, and finally the neck. The neck is the key, to the alignment process. Tightness in the neck can cause headaches, migraines, pins and needles, shoulder pain even vertigo. The shoulders for too long stuck in protraction. Start to release. Function at the shoulder joint is rediscovered, as is jaw alignment.
That’s why I love what I do, There is no simple way to explain the complexity and our amazing body’s functional and dysfunctional protections, and how Bowen Therapy can release years of bad posture, trauma and dysfunction.
Theresa Klos - Bodhi Tree Therapies