Staying Fit: Yoga, Rolfing and the Elusive Cinderella Tissues
By: Eva Norlyk Smith, Ph.D.
Mg. Editor, YogaUOnline.com
What is the most plentiful tissue in the body — and the most ignored?
The answer is fascia — the gooey, gliding stuff that holds you together. Fascia is a broad term for the extracellular matrix of fibers, “glue” and water surrounding all your cells, and wrapping like plastic wrap around muscle fibers and muscles, organs, bones, blood vessels and nerves — and finally as a second skin around your entire body.
“Fascia is like the Cinderella tissues of the body,” says Tom Myers, a leading thinker in integrative anatomy and author of Anatomy Trains. “It has been the most ignored of all the tissues in the body — at least up until recently. Yet, fascia is critical to understanding the body and what it takes to keep your body functional and healthy all life long.”
In recent years, the interest in fascia has surged. In 2007, fascial researchers and practitioners banded together to initiate the biennial Fascia Research Congress, where researchers and health practitioners can share new discoveries. (The Fascia Research Congress 2012 will be held in Vancouver in March.)
Understanding the elusive Cinderella tissues offers an important glimpse into important, yet not widely known, aspects of bodily health and function. Here are four fascinating facts about fascia:
1. All You Learned About “Muscles” Is Wrong
A primary lesson emerging from new research into fascia is that all we learned about muscles is wrong.
“That illustration in your doctor’s office of the red-muscled human body is a body with its fascia cut away,” says Myers. “It’s not what you look like inside, but it’s a lot neater and easier to study. And, it’s the way doctors have been taught to look at you.”
We commonly speak about the musculoskeletal system, and the muscles attached to the bones of the body. But according to Myers, muscles in fact don’t attach to bones. Fascia does.
“Muscle is like hamburger; it can’t attach to a bone,” says Myers. “There’s fascia going around and through the muscle. And when the muscle runs out, that fascia from the outside and the middle of the muscle spins into a tendon, just like yarn.”
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