Treatment Massage

The Injury and Pain Relief Clinic

Most of us have an image of the body's structure as being a series of pieces stacked upon each other from the foot to the head.  While this is true, it is only a small part of the story.

In many ways, our bodies are really more like suspension bridges than a series of stacked bricks.  Let me explain... in a suspension bridge, you have the metal beams that form the roadway and vertical towers.  Cables are then used to connect one tower to another, the roadway to the towers, and the towers to the ground.  If you remove the cables, the bridge will fall.  If you remove the metal beams, the cables have nothing to attach to.

Our bodies are similar to suspension bridges in that our bones act like the metal beams, and our fascia (i.e. connective tissue) acts like the cables.  The bones provide stiffness, create a framework to attach other things to, and act as spacers.  The fascia keeps the bones in proper relationship to each other and provide the actual attachment for muscles to pull the bones into different spacial relationships to one another.  Without the bones we would be soft blobs that could not efficiently move, and without the fascia the bones would fall apart.

Let's expand on this idea of how the body is structured to bring this all back around to reality.  I want you to think about a new very expensive suitcase that you just bought for your next trip.  In fact, this is the nicest suitcase you can ever think of since it has a pocket for everything you plan on taking with you and will help keep all your items organized.  It contains a pocket for your underwear, a pocket for your socks, a pocket for your shirts, a pocket for your soap, a pocket for your toothpaste, a pocket for your comb, etc.  Each larger pocket is also divided down further to provide smaller pockets for each individual item.  So the large pocket for your socks actually contains within it a smaller pocket for each individual sock.  No two socks need share a pocket together!  Everything is in its own pocket.  Just imagine.

Well this suitcase with many pockets is very much like your own body. The fascia (which is your connective tissue) is a network of many layers of spaces (or pockets).  In essence, your fascia is just like that suitcase with the highly organized pocket system.  Into each of these spaces something is placed... a muscle, some cartilage, a bone, etc.  So the fascia not only keeps each item in its own pocket, but it keeps each item in relationship to its neighbors.

To further complicate the matter, I want to give you one more visual or mental image to impress upon you how important the fascia is in providing organized structure to the body.  I want you to imagine the shape of a honeycomb with the walls of the honeycomb and the open spaces formed by the walls.  I want you imagine taking an individual muscle fiber and put one into each opening of the honeycomb.  Then shrink the honeycomb around the muscle fibers.  Now imagine taking a larger honeycomb and inserting the kind of bundle that you just made into each opening, and shrink the honeycomb around them again.  Continue this process so that you expand to larger and larger honeycombs, with more complex smaller honeycombs within them.  When you have finished that and have a reasonably complex structure, I want you to make one more modification... that the honeycomb structures surrounding smaller honeycombs or muscle fibers are really one continuous structure.  What your have been building mentally is a structure that mimics the structure of your muscle tissue.  Each individual muscle fiber cell is wrapped in fascia.  So not only does fascia keep muscles in their own pocket, but this continues down to separate muscle fibers, and continues down to individual cells.  You can keep following the fascia down to where collagen fibers stray off the fascial net and permeate through the cell membrane, helping organize the structure within each cell.

Fascia touches everything, and helps organize the whole system.  That is why understanding fascia is important to understanding the body as a moving structural system, and how manipulating the fascia can bring about more order in the system and ease movement. To recap, bones act as spacers within the fascia and provide levers for movement, and the fascia acts as the tissue of organization keeping each item in spacial relationship to its neighbors.

All material copyright 1999 - 2017
by Mark Pearlscott and Treatment Massage.

Treatment Massage - The Injury and Pain Relief Clinic
4500 9th Avenue NE, Suite 300
Seattle, WA 98105
All material copyright 1999 - 2017
by Mark Pearlscott and Treatment Massage.

Treatment Massage - The Injury and Pain Relief Clinic
4500 9th Avenue NE, Suite 300
Seattle, WA 98105