Posted by Me, written by Kim Goss, MS and posted on Charles Poliquin blog (link at end of article)
Before we get started here is a very cool video on fascia dubbed from German TV: FASCIA–“There are 10 times as many sensory receptors in your fascial structures as there are in your muscles.”
Another good English Fasica Video: Fascia and stretching-The Fuzz Speech-Gil Hedley, Ph.D.
And…check out this video (fantastic electron microscope images at 4 to 6 min mark) of Dr. Warren Hammer offering patient-friendly explanation of the anatomy and physiology of fascia at the Fascial Manipulation workshop in Dallas, Nov, 2011
Key point in article below: “I consider chiropractic adjustments extremely important. One of the things an adjustment does – and it’s the only form of treatment that can do this – is to activate the gamma and alpha motor neuron loop. A chiropractic manipulation will activate the alpha-gamma motor loop, which will make the spindle more sensitive to stretching. This process will inevitably change the tonus state of the muscle.”- Chad Robertson
side note from me: in more technical jargon Doctors of Chiropractic address the altered mechanoreceptive afferent driven motor mismatch by the firing the mechanoreceptors of the facet joint capsules which are activated by means of a chiropractic adjustment based on research from Indahl A, Kaigle AM, Reikeras O et al in 1997 in the Journal SPINE, “Interaction between the porcine lumbar intervertebral disc, zygapophysial joints, and paraspinal muscles” 22:2834–2840
Okay…on with Fascia article
The Secret Life of Fascia
Why this complex connective tissue is at the forefront of medical research
Leonardo da Vinci’s intricate drawings of human anatomy were ahead of their time, and their detail and accuracy make them a significant contribution to the fields of not only the arts but also science.
With 500 years of advances in medicine since da Vinci’s time, you’d think that by now those in the medical profession would have human anatomy pretty well figured out.
Well, they don’t. Case in point: fascia.
The medical community regards fascia primarily as a structure that links together all the bones, muscles, nerves, blood vessels and organs of the body.
But the fact is, fascia serves many purposes, such as being involved in movement and the transmission of force – some even regard fascia as part of the nervous system in that it provides a communication network throughout the entire body.
Today such forward-thinking individuals, as da Vinci did in his time, are creating a paradigm shift in how we look at the human body.
One such individual is Chad Robertson.
A full-time pharmacist, Robertson holds a BSc degree in kinesiology from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, and a BSc degree in pharmaceutical sciences from the University of Alberta.
Along with co-author Mark Lindsay, Robertson wrote Fascia: Clinical Applications for Health and Human Performance (Delmar Cengage Learning, 2008).
This detailed, extensively researched text is a must-read for chiropractors, osteopaths, physical therapists and elite trainers who are seeking the best methods to rehabilitate injuries and an understanding of the roles of fascia in human performance.
In this exclusive interview Robertson discusses the latest research on fascia and how we can keep this tissue healthy to improve our quality of life and help athletes to achieve physical superiority.
KG: Why has fascia been relatively ignored by the medical community?
CR: When you look at medical courses, you’ll find that the basic definition of fascia comes from Gray’s Anatomy. Instructors consider fascia an anatomical sheath that is spread throughout the body and serves to compartmentalize various layers of tissue, such as muscles, nerves and blood vessels. In other words, they view it as a structure and not as a system.
KG: What do you mean by a system?
CR: There are three basic systems associated with fascia: the articular, the neural and the myofascial network. Fascia should also be looked at as a semiconductive communication network in that it is capable of sending nerve signals that communicate with each other throughout its network. What this means is that the fascia can affect the whole body, not just one area or system.
KG: Why is it important to have this perspective on fascia?
CR: Because this viewpoint isn’t established among the medical community yet, they may overlook effective approaches concerning fascia. Take the example of plantar fasciitis, a common injury that is characterized by pain and inflammation of the fascia that runs from the toes to the heel. In treating this condition, a medical approach would be to give anti-inflammatories, or in more extreme conditions, cut the fascia surgically. When you understand how all the fascial systems work together, your treatment protocols will be totally different.
KG: Were the Rolfers the first to bring mainstream attention to fascia?
CR: Let me say that the Rolfers did have a different perspective on fascia by trying to determine its functional role. My interest, and that of my colleagues, developed in the late ’90s with the introduction of Active Release® techniques and the works of Dr. Guy Voyer.
KG: Because their treatment methods were often extremely painful and unconventional, do you believe the Rolfers might have put off the medical community from studying fascia?
CR: I don’t know if Rolfing necessarily discouraged the medical community from studying fascia, but consider that the medical paradigm is to be relatively conservative when it comes to accepting treatment protocols based upon anecdotal reports. The medical profession has no real idea about how to rehab people from any type of medical condition; medicine might surgically correct or treat symptoms and signs of someone’s condition, but it won’t ever get a person back to condition without rehab. Anyone with new ideas who expects to merit serious consideration from the medical community needs to present their material with double-blind, placebo-controlled trials – and with human subjects, not animal models.
KG: Many body workers claim to perform fascial stretching techniques and perform myofascial massage. Can we actually lengthen fascia with these methods?
CR: My colleague Mark Lindsay says that by holding down fascia for 45-60 seconds, he can actually trigger elongation of the fascia – that is, if the subject is adequately hydrated.
KG: What’s your take on John Parrillo’s fascial stretching system? Does it actually stretch the fascia?
CR: No, and I believe the danger here is that his methods can actually increase the likelihood of getting compartment syndrome – I’ve personally seen this with several professional bodybuilders. Mr. Parrillo’s method also prematurely activates the Golgi tendon organ, which can inhibit the firing rates of some units. Further, he doesn’t take into consideration that stretching needs to be performed in the myofascial plane.
KG: Is there value in regular static stretching, or using yoga techniques, to maintain the health of the fascia?
CR: I’m old school in the sense that if a muscle group is tight, we do static stretching. As for the idea that static stretching improves the elasticity of the tissues, that is not clear. That said, I believe the best type of stretching is the approach called Ki-Hara Resistance Stretching. This is a revolutionary technique that utilizes a person’s own resistance in the strengthening and elongating of muscles. The theory behind this method is that to truly stretch a muscle, you must contract the muscle throughout the entire range. Beyond stretching, what is especially important is getting good body work done, eating well and staying hydrated.
KG: What about the concept that athletes involved in explosive activities should not stretch, as it could lengthen the fascia and also delay the response time in releasing energy?
CR: That’s absolutely not true, although I recognize that performing static stretching immediately before an activity that involves a rapid muscle contraction may have a negative effect on performance.
KG: What is your opinion of the Graston Technique® for treating fascia?
CR: The Graston technique is a device that practitioners slide over adhesions – the so-called “knots” – but doing this creates several problems. You’re causing inflammation that will release growth factors that will trigger scarring – so you “heal” the area by rescarring. The inflammation also sensitizes the nerve endings. When the nerve endings are sensitized, you’re creating a perception of pain that will cause a nervous system response called central wind-up. What happens then is that the body redistributes its blood flow, decreasing the blood flow to the brain and the heart, and eventually decreasing blood flow to the tissue; this will result in adrenal fatigue and will affect your biomechanics, making you more susceptible to future injury. The bottom line is we don’t use those techniques because the fascia must be treated very gently.
KG: Does Frequency Specific Microcurrent have value in treating injured fascia?
CR: Absolutely! Frequency Specific Microcurrent is very effective from the standpoint that it can create a variety of residence frequencies within the fascial sheath and cause what can best be described as a “melting” of fascia adhesions without causing pain, inflammation or damage to the patient. In addition, we now have the availability of graphite gloves that enable us to move in between the superficial levels of the fascia and into the deeper levels where the adhesions are.
KG: What other types of treatment methods show promise in treating fascia?
CR: Pool training is valuable because it can reduce inflammation of the fascia layer while providing resistance to also strengthen the area. There are many other techniques, such as articular pumping, ELDOA, from a manual perspective; while the usage of anti-fibrotics, such as Losartan (an angiotensin-receptor blocker), have shown preliminary positive findings.
KG: Do chiropractic adjustments have any value in the treatment of fascia?
CR: I consider chiropractic adjustments extremely important. One of the things an adjustment does – and it’s the only form of treatment that can do this – is to activate the gamma and alpha motor neuron loop. A chiropractic manipulation will activate the alpha-gamma motor loop, which will make the spindle more sensitive to stretching. This process will inevitably change the tonus state of the muscle.
KG: What is the relationship between chronic pain and fascia injury – for example, with conditions such as fibromyalgia?
CR: With fibromyalgia there is a lot of pain attributed to the myofascial system. However, often the medical paradigm is to treat the condition with antidepressants and other drugs that typically take two to four weeks to take effect and can have side effects such as withdrawal and addiction.
KG: How effective is Active Release in treating fascia?
CR: Active Release has many benefits, such as releasing adhesions, improving myofascial glide and restoring basic proprioceptive feedback and providing better dynamic control of the tissue. The problem is that it doesn’t address the nervous system. Active Release is good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a single component of the total treatment.
KG: Are there any important dietary guidelines that will help with keeping the fascia healthy?
CR: At the very least, eliminate gluten from your diet. The gliadin in wheat glutin causes crossover activation and again leads to decreased cortex and midbrain activation, leading to eventual neurodegenerative diseases.
KG: Are there any dietary supplements that should be considered for fascial health?
CR: I recommend a variety of dietary supplements that are valuable for treating and maintaining the health of the fascia. To reduce inflammation, there are fish oils, curcumin, bromelain, and gotu kola to name just a few.
KG: What projects are you working on currently?
CR: I have completed the most detailed compendium to date on Growth Hormone and its effects on all body systems with my colleague Dr. Tony Galea. Charles Poliquin is a contributor, and it should be available later this year.
I am also regularly consulting with professional athletes, and am currently updating our laboratory diagnostics for integrative and functional medicine while designing new treatment protocols for concussions and neuroplasticity changes to the central nervous system with Dr. Mark Lindsay.
Finally, I am working quite extensively with stem cells and scaffolds to be incorporated with platelet-rich plasma for regenerative medicine protocols for more invasive soft tissue injuries.
Other good reads
Janda, Lewit, Liebenson: Chiropractic Manipulation and Rehabilitation Irvine Calif.
If you are suffering from: Sports Injuries, Sprains, Strains, Car accident, Herniated Disc, Disc Bulge, Degenerative Disc Disease, Neck pain, Headaches, Low back pain, of just want to feel better and have better life performance– please call our office in Irvine, California- at 949.857.1888or visit our website at ADJUST2IT to learn more about Functional Fitness Chiropractic, Sports massage, Myofascial Release, Corrective Exercise, Non Surgical Spinal Decompression, Class IV laser, and Functional Nutrition.