The world of fascia research and specific fascia-related modalities has recently exploded. Since one of the banner words on the USTA website includes the word fascia, I suggest we expand our view, and understand more about this ubiquitous tissue.
You will find many definitions of fascia, depending on the year, and who is doing the defining. Definitions of fascia are evolving more quickly now that the world of fascia research is exploding.
Fascia is the fabric of our bodies, with specialized cells nested within this fabric. Looked at this way, rather than as a wrapper, changes our perspective. Fascia includes many tissues; muscle, tendon, ligament, aponeurosis, joint capsule, and bone.
Stephen Levin, founder of biotensegrity, has a paper related to bone as fascia. Here is a short video of Dr. Levin talking about bone as fascia. If you prefer to read, here is a link to download his article on bone as fascia.
There are many fascia oriented events, such as the Fascia Research Congress, Fascia Symposium, etc. The intention with these events is to bring disparate researchers and practitioners together. Science, and in particular anatomy, is by nature reductionist. The trend is that interdisciplinary fields of study advance more quickly than isolated fields of study. With interdisciplinary interaction, connections are made between fields of study, resulting in synergy. I find this particularly applicable to the science of fascia, as fascia is an integrative tissue in the human body.
Here are a few of the more recognized methods that purport to be mainly working through fascia:
- Fascial Fitness® (Schliep and Muller)
- Fascial Manipulation® (Stecco)
- Melt Method® (Hitzmann)
- Myofascial Release® (Barnes)
- Stretch to Win® Fascial Stretch Therapy (Frederick)
- Structural Integration (Rolfing)
- Visceral Manipulation (Barral)
- Yin Yoga.
Stretching and releasing seem to be the foundation for most of these fascial modalities. What if fascia doesn’t need releasing or stretching? What if some fascia needs more tone? What if fascia needed more resilience so it could store more potential energy?
Questions lead to more questions. What is the purpose of the dense fascial bands such as the iliotibial band in the thigh, the plantar fascia of the foot, or the nuchal fascia of the neck? Might it be to stabilize? To store potential energy? To reduce the energy cost to our system? What is the down side of stretching and releasing this tissue that was designed to be taut?
Most people in the realm of bodywork became more familiar with fascia through the work of Tom Myers. I watched a recently recorded talk by Tom. He was asked if Trager and Feldenkrais work with or through fascia. His answer, based on his familiarity with Trager via Deane Juhan, was no, “Trager is not working on or through fascia.” Tom said that Trager works through the nervous system. I agree that Trager works through the nervous system, but not solely. My questions are what part of the body do we touch and move that isn’t fascia, and what part of fascia is not connected with the nervous system?
If you are interested in learning more about how fascia is indeed connected to the nervous system, there are several modules within Tragerology that include this topic. It is time to put the body, and the body of knowledge, back together.