Friday, February 14, 2014

If you've ever made a bed, you already know alot about fascia.

I had the same reaction when I came across this convenient analogy the other day when reading through some Ida P. Rolf literature.  I have always been known to be quite skilled in expanding on concepts and deconstructing them...exposing the intricacies...and then putting back together in some context that people are able to relate to.  Although effective, this takes some time (sometimes quite a bit of it) and can often lead to distraction, disinterest, or I just plain lose people along the way.  I have recently become a fan of the more "compact" writing that attempts to put things into more real-world context as well as to attempt to convey a message without diving into too many details (I have only recently realized that the details interest ME...but most people are looking for the punchline when trolling through blogs). it is:

Most are aware of the fact that the human organism is laid down in layers.  Despite the traditional topographical representation, it is essentially a vast and complex community of differentiated layers of tissue.  These tissues are diverse, but they occupy very specific physiological "locations" ranging from superficial to deep.  Fascia (connective tissue) is unique in the sense that it is not restricted to any physiological "borders"...therefore it is found in all layers. 

The idea of "working deeper layers" is a lexicon that is well-used within the rehabilitation landscape...and is certainly an essential strategic objective in many cases.  The solution as to "how" to best access the deeper layers is varied depending on which camp or philosophy one happens to adhere to...but the tactical reality is that it very difficult to access the true deep layers effectively. 

Let's throw in the helpful analogy:  consider the layers of fascia and differentiated tissue (muscle, fat, etc) as "sheets".  What we formally have is an extremely complex "bed" that is characterized by sheets of varied densities, heavy stitching, elastic or non-elastic material...all perhaps covered by thicker layers of blankets and duvets.  The deeper "sheets" are nicely tucked into the corners of the bed providing for some decent that your sheets dont end up on the floor by morning.  Imagine this multilayered bed all messed up after a night of restless tossing and turning...this is (generically speaking) what happens within the human organism.  The layers (sheets) are loose or tight, some have shifted position in relation to the general, it is functionally less "coherent" than before. 

Therefore the question becomes: "what is the best way to make up this bed?"  Try to make your bed from the outside...keep all of the sheets stacked in order as they were before and try to fabricate something usable.  Very challenging.  The obvious and instinctive strategy (for those of you who actually MAKE your bed) is to begin at the bottom...the deepest layer (sheet)...and secure it to the foundation.  The sequence that follows is simple...sheet by sheet, the bed gets "re-made". 

This analogy all boils down to a key fundamental:  Strategies that function from an inside-out / deep to superficial are fundamentally essential and critical to long-term health and function.  Although we cannot "reach into" the deeper layers and address them directly, there is a growing number of wonderful and fascinating techniques and modalities that have actually shown to have significant effect in the deepest layers.  These range from relaxation / meditation techniques, breathing exercises, body-mind centering, and extend into innovative manual techniques (this is where I insert a Fascia Therapy plug) ;) .

In summary, there are many "bogus" techniques that render the more "metaphysical" philosophies handcuffed by bad perception.  But the reality is that there is quite a bit of scientific literature that strongly indicates that we have a more profound ability to impact the deeper layers than we think.  If you consider the concept of interoception (which is the formal opposite of proprioception) you will discover that many processes are operating at very primitive levels...beyond our voluntary control or perception.  Further, the many manual therapy approaches that incorporate this general philosophy can effectively target and access the deepest "sheets" using innovative concepts and applications that do not require that you simply "press harder" which inevitably causes damage and stress to the superficial layers. 

It is a simple analogy, but none-the-less accurate.  The bed has sheets that are easy to manage and others that are more difficult...some provide stability and a solid foundation, while others are there for comfort and insulation...but the idea of connectivity is present even in a simple "architectural" example such as this.  In the end, some sheets are too loose...some are too tight...some need to be stitched...some have worn through...but it can always be made better! 

Cheers...and sleep tight! ;)


  1. Fascinating description, thank you for the analogy.
    A subcutaneous duvet sounds like a much better thing to own than fat ;)

    1. Indeed! Duvets always elicit positive thoughts no matter what the situation! ;)