“I’m falling apart”. “I’m just getting old”. “I can’t complain anymore, my family is getting tired of it”. “I just need to get well enough so I can do my job”.
I spend the majority of my day teaching people about their body. The human body is made up of a complex group of systems: the musculoskeletal system, circulatory system, neurological system, endocrine system, etc. Most patients understand this theory. The piece of the puzzle they are missing is the system that weaves all of this together: the fascial system. A problem within the fascial system will manifest itself in a variety of ways, depending on where the fascial restriction is located. If you have tightness on the fascia near nerve, you can experience nerve type symptoms. If you have fascial restrictions entrapping blood vessels, you may have changes in blood pressure or peripheral circulation. If the fascial restriction is involving the skeletal system, you will experience increased joint compression and pain.
Cathy Covell, PT uses the analogy of comparing the human body to an orange to help people understand the role of the fascia. So, if you peel an orange, the thick white tissue that attaches the peel to the fruit would be similar to the superficial fascia in our body. The superficial fascia is just beneath the dermis of our skin, anchoring our skin to the tissue below. In certain areas of the body, it can be quite thick. When you cut an orange in half, you notice white membranes that compartmentalize the orange into segments. This is much like the middle layer of fascia in the body. It forms sheaths over muscle and nerve. It forms the cavities where our organs are located. It forms the outer coverings of bone, nerve, and blood vessels. Finally, if you dissect an orange segment, you will find white fibers that hold the orange segment together. This is analogous to the deepest layers of fascia that hold our body together at the cellular level.
Fascia isn’t mentioned much in the medical office. It doesn’t show up on sophisticated diagnostic tests. But it can be felt. It’s pliability can be assessed. It can be released.