Fascial and/or connective tissues are densely woven, cover, and interpenetrate every muscle, bone, nerve, artery and vein as well as all of our internal organs. The connective tissue relates not just to the cranial bones and dura, but surrounds every tissue in the body down to the smallest cells. It is involved in both the soft and hard tissues of the body. There are a total of nine layers of fascia as it covers everything from the front of the body to the back and from the top to the bottom. The whole interconnected covering of fascia or connective tissue is called the fascial system. The most interesting aspect of the fascial system is that it is not just a system or separate coverings. It is actually one structure that exists from head to foot without interruption. You could travel all around the body without ever getting off the fascial system.
Connective tissue connects and supports all other structures in the body as it surrounds and attaches to all structures. These structures would not be able to provide the stability without the constant pull of the fascial system.
In the normal healthy state, connective tissue has the ability to stretch and move without restriction. When there is a physical trauma, scarring, or inflammation, however, the connective tissue loses its pliability. It can become tight, restricted and a source of tension that the rest of the body has to compensate for. Trauma, such as a fall, whiplash, surgery or just habitual poor posture over time and repetitive stress injuries can have a cumulative effect. Connective tissues can slowly lose its’ ability to compensate for the amount of adverse tension on it and the body becomes under excessive pressure. These tensions affect our flexibility and stability and may become a determining factor in our ability to withstand stress and strain. This may result in pain or restriction of motion. Also, due to the meandering nature of this connective tissue, as well as its electrical conductivity, the presentation of symptoms can be unusual. This may lead the untrained practitioner to believe that the patient is malingering. If symptoms or objective findings do not change within a reasonable period of time, there could be a connective tissue answer.
Manual Approach to Connective or Soft Tissue Treatment
There are various types of approaches used to treat connective tissue restrictions. Please see the definition of manual therapy under the treatment section. All of the treatments that Brian does regardless of whether they are thought of as conventional or complimentary affect connective tissue in some way. Specific connective tissue treatments typically just ties everything together. These approaches, in general, are designed to identify restrictions, and gently restore motion and function to the entire body when the body is considered as a whole. Soft/connective tissue treatment can often be the solution by itself. Sometimes this treatment will simply allow the patient to get back on track so that they can be progressed with more conventional approaches or return to their exercise program.
In Brian’s clinical experience, connective tissue therapies have relieved headaches, spinal pain and TMJ (jaw) pain, as well as patients’ symptoms from fibromyalgia, acute or recurrent injuries – athletic or otherwise – and those from whiplash or head injury/concussion, which are sometimes not helped with other methods of treatment.
So what does a session actually feel like? The most common “side effect” is a feeling of deep relaxation. This relaxation is deeply therapeutic and an important component of tissue healing. It can sometimes feel like waking up from a deep and restful sleep. A percentage of patients experience some tissue release soreness as the body gets used to moving in a different way. This is usually temporary.
The above information was gathered from course material, research studies and clinical experience.
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