Thursday, February 2, 2012
Mechanotransduction: Response to Manual Therapy
For the very few regular readers, I must apologize for the long delay between posts. My unofficial rule is to produce 3 or 4 posts per month...however it seems that newborn babies do not follow this rule! Now that I have had a few months to adjust, recharge, and refocus, I will begin my "re-entry" into the blogosphere with a short back to basics post.
I have recently been clicking through the Inger Lab web publications (a very good site for those fascia nerds like me) and I came to the realization that a great deal of information is right under our noses...it just requires some effort in "digging" for it. What do I mean by this? Most people have the obvious and instinctive understanding that "if I go to get manual therapy, I will feel better". For most, this basic understanding is sufficient...for example, I need not know HOW a touchpad on a computer works. I need only know that that it does indeed work. But for the more investigative mind (both care-giver and care-seeker), the question still remains "how does the active manipulation of tissue translate into an immediate (or long-term) response? The answer is MECHANOTRANSDUCTION. To put it simply, Mechanotransduction is the process by which cells (and therefore tissue itself) sense mechanical stress and convert these stresses into biochemical signals. On a cellular level, the signal is sent to the nucleus and thus affecting the tissue on a "macro" level by promoting healthy remodelling.
As the above image so elegantly illustrates, the cell itself is a Tensegral construction that intimately connects the entire organism. Depending on the type of stress (sheer, compression, tension, etc), the cell will respond differently. Therefore, the TYPE of manual application is vitally important as well as the MODE of delivery (light, aggressive, quick, slow, etc).
With respect to the Fascial Paradigm, this is a key understanding and fundamental principle. Remodelling of connective tissue is always the ultimate goal, however the promotion of HEALTHY remodelling is the key.
My parting message is simple: Even the smallest biological element (cell) can sense differences in mechanical stress. Therefore the focus on the characteristics of the application of the manual therapy technique become more than important...they are critical! Mechanotransduction shows us that there is true power in the effectiveness of manual therapy...the real "skill" comes with the understanding of the specific mechanisms of application and response.
Thanks for reading!