Explaining how fascia exists within our bodies can be a challenging task. When asked most people have never heard of it much less knowing that it is a very important system in the body that needs to be maintained. People see fascia all the time when they eat meat or spend time in science class doing a dissection. It is a tissue that is given little consideration from most and often discarded when studying anatomy. This adds to the challenge of trying to explain its importance since our teachers don’t bring it up in our studies give it a bit of a mythical presence within the body.
Not only is it a real thing but it is essential to maintain support in the body. Fascia is the most abundant tissue in the body and is embedded throughout. Two thirds of this system is made of liquid and therefore it needs to stay hydrated. This is not simply just drinking water but have outside help from a structural integration practitioner. By adding input into the tissue it is allows for flow or movement within the tissue increasing its ability to hydrate. This allows for the tissue to function better and creates more cohesion through the whole being.
This can be a very abstract concept to grasp and when the facts about connective tissues are not satisfactory for explaining the process of how this system works and why it needs to be maintained I appeal to the owner’s own felt sense. I have them take a walk and get a sense of what their baseline is. Then they walk with one foot stiffened so that the owner gets a sense of how just reducing the movement in one part of the body changes the response of the entire being. This also represents how just because pain manifests in one part of the body that may not be the actual cause but merely the compensation.
If a visual aid or imagery is needed there are other ways that are helpful in further describing the tissue. First I compare fascia to the tissue of an orange. The pulp is like muscle and the material surrounding the pulp represents the fascia. If I have an orange on me, I show them how working the orange in our hands hydrates the orange creating differentiation of each of the pieces similar to what happens to the muscles. To demonstrate how changing one part of the system alters the rest, the spider web is a great example. When one part of the spider web has tension on it the entire web is distorted. When the balance is restored to the web it returns to its former shape.
These ways seem to get the idea across generally but at times there is information lost due to it still being this abstract concept. Many people will still call the work a deep massage and be more concerned about the individual muscles instead of seeing the connections within the being. This makes it important to continue to educate the owner about the relationship of how the horse moves and connects through its body.
What gets embellished is the idea that as a practitioner we have control over how our input is received by the being. The being itself does the healing and opening in the way that it needs to. The practitioner is simply the catalyst for this to be able to happen. The practitioner’s skill and vibration will facilitate how well this unwinding and opening happens. The practitioner’s skill is not the only factor when it comes to freeing the body from fascial restraints. The being going through the work must be open to change and for some this is a hard thing to do. Within this in mind it is important to communicate that this process is a transformation and that with changes in the fascia there is a transition period where integration happens.
Lauren Gee Certified Rolfer™
Rolfing ® Structural Integration Longmont and Northern Colorado