Oh man, I get really excited about serious medical inquiry regarding fascia. We know so little and until recently it didn’t seem science would ever care about understanding it better. Well, in my career this has changed dramatically. I’ve been told that researchers “ran out” of things to study. I find this statement a little dubious, but it is interesting that the change has occurred in the broader scientific community lately. In 2007 the first International Fascia Research Council meeting was held. This proved a great conversation started between the scientific community and fascial therapists. The conversation has just started and where were are now little is known about the interaction between fascia and therapist.
I’ve spoken with therapists who get very defensive when talking about the science of therapeutic fascial work. The scientific community is inherently skeptical and their attitude toward Structural Integration is no exception. I for one welcome a detailed examination of our work from those in the broader scientific community. This article lays out the issue from a fairly unbiased scientific viewpoint, there’s a lot of fascinating information, just click the link below for the full article.
‘Fascia is a web of fibrous tissue that permeates the body, but is it really the “Cinderella Tissue” that new age therapists, Rolfers, and yoga instructors suggest? The fascial system is still a medical mystery. But that could soon change, thanks to an unlikely alliance between researchers and alternative therapists.
In October, 2007, more than 100 scientists from around the world convened in Boston, Massachusetts to discuss the latest research on fascia, an enigmatic, gauze-like matrix of connective tissue that envelopes the muscles, surrounds the nerves and swathes the organs in a body-wide-web of fibrous collagen. But the researchers had some unlikely company. Also in attendance, and outnumbering researchers 5:1, was a throng of complementary- and alternative-medicine practitioners with a mutual interest in fascia. United by their fascination with this medically neglected tissue, the two camps comprised the attendees of the first-ever International Fascia Research Congress.
Science‘s coverage of that first congress indicates that practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine (aka “CAM”) signed up for the meeting in droves. The researchers, however, had required some convincing. Therapies defined by the National Institutes of Health as “complementary,” “alternative,” or “integrative,” are characterized, in large part, by a lack of scientific evidence in support of their effectiveness. More distasteful, still, to many scientists, is how readily such therapies expose themselves to untestable spiritual and metaphysical interpretations. For many researchers, to associate with alternative practitioners is to not only grant outlandish theories credibility by association, but to risk sullying one’s own scientific reputation.
The scientists who did attend the meeting had been assembled through the efforts of conference-founder and Executive Director Thomas Findley. An MD with a PhD in physical medicine and rehabilitation, Findley has studied the science of rehabilitation for close to forty years. But he is also a longtime practitioner of “Rolfing.” Also known as “Structural Integration,” Rolfing is an alternative form of movement and energy therapy. To quote Ida P. Rolf, the founder of the practice:
Rolfers make a life study of relating bodies and their fields to the earth and its gravity field, and we so organize the body that the gravity field can reinforce the body’s energy field. This is our primary concept.
But unlike many alternative therapists, Findley seems to recoil at the mention of words like “energy field.” Among bodyworkers like Rolfers, the standard practice may be to offer therapies that elude quantification and verification, but this, Findley says, is problematic. “The point of science is to ask a question in a way that can be answered either ‘yes’ or ‘no,’” he says, “and a lot of practitioners pose questions in ways that aren’t really answerable in a scientific context.”
Findley thinks the answers he’s looking for could be hiding in fascia. On the scientific side of things, the field of fascia research has grown considerably in recent years, though it lacks the coherence of other, more established areas of physiological investigation. For decades, anatomical dissections and representations have presented the body as stripped of its fascial tissues, and the majority of physiology textbooks make little mention of it. “Most scientists,” says Wallace Sampson, alternative medicine skeptic and professor emeritus at Stanford University, “even those wary of alternative therapies, admit that the field of fascia research is a field of neglect, and remains sorely under-investigated.”
By uniting alternative therapists with researchers, Findley hopes to spur discovery. He is fond of telling conferencegoers that when he was in medical school, glial cells (the predominant cell-type in the central nervous system) had no function. “We now know [glial cells] have a major function in memory, and do all sorts of things,” he says. “What about fascia?” ‘
Read the rest of the article [here].
Image by stockimages at freedigitalphotos.net
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