By JoAnn Rahl, BCSI –
One of the exciting things about living at this time in our history is the abundance of new scientific discoveries. Because of the internet, the ease and rapid dissemination of information enables the lay person to participate in their health care from a more empowered position than ever before. What once took weeks of research at the library in many fields of study can now be done from the convenience of a lap top in minutes. Spatial Medicine is one such rapidly changing field. One of the goals of Spatial Medicine is to address structural relationships and imbalances within the body, which is our internal world, and our ability to biomechanically perceive and respond to our external world around us. The basic biomechanical elements in Spatial Medicine are the bones, the fascia, the muscle and nerves. Most of us have a childhood memory of the “Bone song” i.e. ‘the leg bones connected to the knee bone’; the problem is the leg bone is not connected to the knee bone in the way we were taught. The fascia connects the leg bone to the knee bone and every other bone in our body. Fascia can be defined as the extracellular matrix of fiber and water that surrounds every cell, muscle, organ, bone, blood vessel and nerve. It is essentially the “glue” that holds us together. Fascia is also our largest and densely rich sense organ in the body; we have more sensory nerve endings in our fascia than we have in an eye or in our tongue. There is six times the amount of nerve endings in our fascia than in our muscle.
Just as we understand that we have a circulatory system or a nervous system we also have a fascial system. Our human minds like to compartmentalize the components of a system to simplify it. What would happen however if we changed our perspective and instead of seeing 640 individual muscles we saw one muscle existing in 640 fascial pockets? This is actually a more accurate representation of how our brain creates movement.
If you imagine a piece of plastic wrap that covers every inch of your body and if you crimp a portion of that plastic wrap for example on the outside of your thigh that crimp or ripple can run in a variety of directions, one being down to the bottom of your foot or in the other direction up to your hip. The fascia that is wrapped around your foot is connected to the fascia that is wrapped around your head. When you move your body to lift yourself from a seated to a standing position you are optimally using a whole fascial sheath that runs from the top of the body to the bottom, not just one group of leg muscles. Wouldn’t it be easier to learn about your body and start to work with it instead of working against it as we do when we reduce whole body movement into parts and pieces? Good posture can come from a place of force or from a place of grace and ease.
Fascial fitness is a way of exercising the whole body in movements that are initiated from the center to the circumference. Being able to move from your center however is more than just “core work” which in and of itself is important movement education. What we are working towards is a sense of kinesthetic literacy. What this means is to live in and be consciously aware of what your body is experiencing in any given moment, to be able to sense and read the movements of your body. For example how do your emotions effect your movements? If you are depressed do you round your shoulders, breathe in a shallow way, perhaps you shuffle your feet. In this culture we are accustomed to changing the brain with external forms of chemistry to affect bodily change. What might happen if we complemented the neurological and chemical therapies with structural therapy and used the body to try and change the chemistry? When connective tissue changes, breathing changes, chemistry then changes and perspective changes. The question we now want to ask is how do your movements effect your emotions? The fascial system is an organ of form, it remembers what we do and how we do it, it will replicate whatever behavior we ask it to. As we begin to practice whole body movement, kinesthetic literacy can become the new norm instead of the exception.
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