“Fascia is the soft tissue component of the Connective Tissue System that permeates the human body, forming a continuous three-dimensional matrix of Structural Support. It interpenetrates and surrounds all organs, muscles, bones and nerve fibers creating the environment for body systems to function.”
The sum total of material in the space outside the cell is called the Extra Cellular Matrix (ECM). These two elements are continuous. In this way the Connective Tissue system is a closed hydraulic system involving pressurized water and ion flow as well as soft tissue.
The health of our Connective Tissue system is crucial in hydrating the surrounding tissues including our organ systems.
The primary cells of the Connective Tissue Matrix are fibroblasts. Fibroblasts play some role in immune function, they also build and maintain the entire Extracellular Matrix. Our Connective Tissue is alway under reconstruction, adjusting to the demands of the environment.
Fascia is a colloid, a liquid with particles suspended in it, part fiber and part fluid. The fibrous aspects are mostly collagen and elastin. The viscous aspect called ground substance, is a mix of water and soluble carbohydrate polymers, proteoglycans.
It is viscoelastic meaning it both has the characteristic to return to the original shape after being deformed as well as the ability to flow. Viscous materials tend to be used to absorb shock and heat. (Think engine oil)
The combination of viscous liquid with strong and elastic fibers makes myofascial force transmission possible. This is the Biological solution to the problem of movement efficiency.
As the organ of form, Fascia surrounds and interpenetrates bones, blood vessels, muscles, nerves and organs. It also creates the distinct pockets they are found in. Depending on the conditions in the surrounding fascia other systems including, circulation, nerve impulse or digestion will be affected for better or worse.
Fascia forms an uninterrupted 3-D web which exhibits Tensegrity properties. Among these properties are Pre-Stress and Force Distribution. Interestingly enough, the Tensegrity models we use to understand the concept are much less complex when compared with the hierarchical nature of biological tensegrity.
Imagine cellular sized tensegrity models joined together to form tissues and organs in balance with bone. Add pressurized water and electrical charge to the picture.
The Connective Tissue System has many components just recently coming to our awareness and holds great interest in furthering our understanding movement and Biology.
The ECM has liquid crystal semiconductor properties where mechanical tension placed on collagen fibers creates electrical currents which can be signal information to be responded to in a number of ways including adding or removing collagen. This conversion is called Mechanotransduction.
In this way Connective Tissue plays a role as a sensory organ. Free nerve endings in the fascia allow us sensory awareness of our environment and position in it.
Connective Tissue cells are able to contract, to a lesser extent than muscles. They are good ionic conductors and the materials they put out combine to form tendons, ligaments, joints etc. In this way fascia joins us together at a cellular level (ECM) and at a macro level.
The Connective Tissue system is the direct environment for our cells. It is the city that our cells inhabit, the infrastructure for human beings, alive with commerce, growth, birth, death and everything else.
This system has slipped through the cracks in a big way because it is so pervasive. Found literally everywhere in the body, It was initially thought to be a passive “casing” for the more important things inside like muscles and organs. Moreover, as soon as we autopsy we are opening a closed system and can no longer study it as it operates in a live body.
In truth the casing is just as alive and integral as anything inside. Dissection splits things into parts, where Tensegrity is a property of the whole. Moving towards this paradigm will bring results where thinking in separation fails, leaving people with chronic pain and health issues.
Advocating Tensegrity Thinking -JD
Live Intentionally Not Habitually