by Helen Mawson
What is Fascia?
Fascia is the connective tissue made up primarily of collagen fibres that sit beneath the skin, it covers all of the structures of the body and allows flexibility and movement between various parts of the body. Collagen is a protein that makes up around 70% of all the protein in connective tissue, it is the most common protein in the animal kingdom. It has very unique properties in that water molecules are attracted to it and will stick to it in a very ordered way.
Fascia consists of very tough tissue or sometimes tubes of connective tissue around specific structures, these provide coverings of varying thicknesses and strength around every structure in the human body.
There is a high degree of fluidity in fascia which allows for the free movement and glide between groups of muscles and organs.
More and more research is being conducted on fascia and its importance in the human body. Dr Pischinger research led him to state that fascia is actually the body’s largest organ. Dr Helen Langevin in her research has shown that fascia forms a body wide network that functions in a nerve-like signaling capacity sending vital messages around the body as a massive communication system, the implications of this are vast.
The importance of Fascia
The body maintains structure through its relationship with key structural bands of muscle via fascia. One key function of fascia bands is to maintain upright structure and to support the spine. If there is tension or weakness in the fascia a range of reactions can result such as pressure on nerves, tension in the musculature on one side and compensation patterns being set up in the rest of the body. The tension in the fascial bands in one area of the body can present in an entirely different part of the body, this is why sometimes in a treatment I end up treating a completely different part of the body to where the client is telling me is painful.
What is emerging out of the research that’s is been conducted now is that fascia and connective tissues are absolutely critical to our overall health.
How The Bowen Technique works with Fascia
In Bowen a lot of attention is given to the fascia by changing the way in which the muscles and fascia relate to each other and a change in the structure becomes inevitable whereby the spine will adopt a better position for example. Bowen work does have a big impact on the connective tissue. If we imagine the spine as a tent pole being held in position by guy ropes which in this case are the bands of fascia that support the spine, we can see how a bend in these ropes of fascia might cause tension in the spine. In Bowen work we aim to change the way in which the muscles and fascia relate to each other and this then has a big impact on how the structure presents. This way of working is incredibly holistic and often has a much longer lasting effect on the structure and beyond.
How to keep your Fascia functioning well
Hydration – keeping your fascia hydrated by drinking good quality water is very important, this allows the fascia to behave in the way it needs to in order to support the body in its form and function.
Stretching – gentle slow stretching such as yoga or pilates is excellent for the fascia as it helps to orientate the collagen fibres. Stretching also helps to create space around and within the cells.
Exercise – exercise helps fascia to remain fluid, when we are very sedentary congestion in the way of toxins builds up in our connective tissues. The lymphatic system (one of the body’s main elimination systems) needs movement to work properly. For example, the blood is pumped around the body by the heart. The lymph system has no organ too help it pump around the body and needs movement to make this happen.
Cortisone – Some practitioners have found the effect of these on fascia to be incredibly debilitating causing areas of density and lack fluidity. Taking homeopathic cortisone may have an impact on desensitising someone who has had a lot of cortisone injections.
Consider regular Bowen work – The impulses that are created in the collagen fibres when the Bowen “moves” are applied (especially the crosswise stretching used in Bowen) to the body creates a small electrical charge which has strong healing properties.
The fascia will respond as a whole to a Bowen “move” which has far reaching implications for how this amazing modality is received in practice. I see this regularly in practice when clients report how the work we have done one part of their body has had an impact on a different part of their body entirely.
Another interesting point to note is how Bowen work can affect tissue memory, when connective tissue is subjected to pressure as in the Bowen “move” held tissue memories are often released, these may also be recalled by the client. This phenomenon is often referred to as somatic recall.