Fascia and CST
Updated: Dec 29, 2019
You may have heard me speak or read my post about your body releasing held tension patterns over time. This progressive release is likened to peeling back the layers of an onion.
And the onion image is helpful as many people are able to easily connect with a common vegetable we've all held in our hands and cried over chopping. It supports the notion that you don't often arrive to the center of an issue within one session.
When I first heard it, it clicked for me as a great tool for client education. Yet my attention returned again and again somewhere between deep curiosity and seeking information precision regarding how to most simply explain the anatomy and physiology behind the story.
That brings us to fascia.
Fascia is what we are really talking about when we talk about the onion and fascia is released over a period time. The proteins that make up fascia require the passage of time combined with light resistance for change to occur.
Fascia, also called connective tissue, is a continuous full body suit. It has been understood to contain your form while concurrently allowing its flexibility.
In the last decade, the medical community has started to pay attention to fascia as more than just a layer of clear gelatinous goop on the outside of a muscle, think about the outer layer on a chicken breast.
We now recognize that "fascia is one continuous network, embryologically and anatomically" *
So in addition to the classic anatomy mapping of fascia, we've begun to include in its definition that fascia is all the collagen based soft tissue in your body. It was previously categorized into parts (ligament, tendon, intracranial membrane) and now we are beginning to understand
the material that is fascia is structured into the form the body requires of it for the function of where it exists, including at the cellular level.
Fascia is connected throughout your body like a large sheet of fabric weaving within, around, in between, above, below. Fascia is infinite.
So fascia is thicker when it is a ligament or a tendon.
Fascia is rounder as a bursae.
Fascia is thinner when it forms within a muscle.
The fibers orient as reticular or unidirectional as required by form and related to function.
Structure and function are interrelated.
These reticular fibers hold elastic and collagenous proteins allowing multidirectional movement.
For example, the cobweb like fascial mesh that covers and is entwined within a healthy muscle splays in a multitude of directions to allow for free range of motion (ROM).
Unidirectional fascial fibers organize themselves into linear structures forming ligaments or tendons. Their function is to take up force of pull from muscular contraction which moves bone.
So what happens when you sustain an injury?
The body rushes blood with collagen to the injury site. In time, the collagen will begin to organize resembling unidirectional fibers more similar in structure to ligament than to reticular fibers chaotic mass web.
Remember, the function of reticular fibers is flexibility.
The function of a ligament is stabilization.
So one must stretch, move those fibers, keep them hydrated, mobilize them in specific injury massage or craniosacral therapy or yoga to avoid the long term restriction that will form, leaving you with loss of ROM.
Add fear or another negative emotion to the injury and I have a separate post to write.
If you have a tension pattern in an old injury and you have a new understanding about the fascia in that muscle being part of an interweaving collagen-rich fiber body wide system then you can understand the body is a unit and one part may affect a distant other part.
You now know that the injured fascia is continuous with the fascia in your big toe.
Restrictions at the shoulder may actually be connected to a fascial injury at your hip.
Have you had more than one injury in your lifetime?
Map out in your mind how these injuries through the fascial system can connect and limit movement and over time present as pain. What can you do?
You book a session with me.
I begin to address those restrictions.
With listening hands, I connect with the tension.
I follow fascia as it needs to unwind from its unidirectional-esque recovery pattern.
I follow fascia as it releases back toward its original chaotic reticular fiber-self which best serves the function needed for muscle; for ROM; for its flexibility.
How does the body deal with injury as a whole?
When an injury is sustained, the body will do one of two things.
First, it will compensate or adapt so that the function remains consistent.
But if the injury/restriction is too big or is at a tipping point after years of compensation, symptoms of dysfunction will arrive and they often arrive in the form of pain signals.
If your body has been compensating for the last 30 years and has reached a tipping point, it will most likely take more than a single session to work through the layers of elastic and collagen fibers as I follow fascia into the series of release it needs to move toward improved ROM.
The releases happen in time.
In time ~ in a session I follow fascia with listening hands for the collagen to soften and release.
Compensation held for many years melts away ~ in time.
In time ~ during a series of 6 days, 6 weeks or 6 months ~ I am waiting for those releases to happen repeatedly until the collagen softens and your symptoms not only are relieved, but resolve.
And that is the final goal here: complete resolution.
The onion is peeled back in time to its core primary restriction.
The fascia restrictions are released and the fascia unwinds.
When your body begins the journey toward stasis, your innate healing system appropriates its energy away from its current path of compensation -> symptom (pain signal messages),
Your body begins to turn its energy toward continued releasing, health and thriving.
How will that bloomin' feel?
You tell me.
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* Sources are Healing Spirits Massage Program anatomy classes, Upledger Institute CranioSacral Therapy courses, and Anatomy Trains by Thomas Meyers*