Energy Medicine

Interstructural Tissue

Lesson 3 Chapter 2


Greetings, dear seekers of the unseen forces that shape our physical and energetic bodies. Let us embark on a mystical journey through the realm of fascia, the ethereal web that weaves our being together.

Fascia, The Sacred Veil: Fascia, often referred to as connective tissue, is the divine shroud enveloping and cradling every muscle fiber, tendon, nerve, blood vessel, and bone in our sacred vessel. It is a tapestry woven from microscopic collagen fibers, sculpted into delicate tubular structures, infused with the wisdom of elastin for suppleness, and anointed with the elixir of hyaluronan to ensure the graceful dance of collagen structures over the tapestry of our bones. Within this sacred fabric reside the fibroblasts, akin to mystical messengers, communicating with one another, forming a neural network ever-vigilant to the whispers of trauma and the echoes of our behaviors. These fibroblasts are not mere observers; they possess the power to contract and weave this tapestry like tiny cosmic spiders, orchestrating the symphony of our existence.

  • Adipose Tissue, The Alchemical Reservoir: Adipose tissue, a specialized facet of fascia, harbors lipid-rich cells known as adipocytes. Comprising 20-25% of our total body weight, this luminous realm primarily serves as a sanctuary for energy in the form of lipids. Divided into parietal (beneath the skin) and visceral (enveloping organs) regions, it contributes to the sacred balance of our inner and outer worlds.
  • Loose Connective Tissue, The Weave of Unity: In the grand tapestry of our being, loose connective tissue emerges as a vital thread. Loosely arranged collagen fibers and myriad cells form this sacred space, holding our organs in tender embrace and bridging the realms of epithelial and underlying tissues. It is the silent sentinel that envelops blood vessels and nerves, while fibroblasts, like ancient guardians, weave their wisdom into the extracellular matrix.
  • Dense Connective Tissue, The Fortified Citadel: Dense connective tissue, an embodiment of strength, boasts an abundance of collagen fibers. It weaves a robust connection between the structural elements of our sacred temple, providing the resilience and fortitude needed to support our earthly vessel.

The Dance of Fascia and Life: Fascia, the guardian of our vitality, responds to our life's melodies and rhythms. Sedentary lifestyles and poor posture coax it into a dance of thickening near the joints, its whispers growing louder. In this confinement, it becomes sticky, akin to a parched riverbed, limiting mobility and birthing mounds of rubbery tissue. For the active souls among us, this dance is less restricting. However, when trauma or injury visits, the same binding occurs, an ancient protective mechanism to safeguard our joints.

  • Chronic Pain Unveiled: In the mystical realm of healing, 80% of the enigmas I encounter trace their roots to the bundling of fascia. This spectral phenomenon casts its shadow upon posture, gait, and the alignment of hips, back, or shoulders. Fascia's omnipresence is an undeniable truth, for it envelops every corner of our corporeal being. More than 20% of our body mass is intertwined with fascia, yet its mysteries remain concealed. To some, it may resemble a carpenter's material, adorning the ends of rafters or serving as superficial decoration to mask the seams of structure. However, this bodily fascia transcends mere aesthetics; it serves as a sacred guide to our movements, a sentient organ that watches over and guides our posture and mobility.
  • The Observer of Life: Fascia stands as a vigilant sentinel, perpetually transmitting and receiving mechanometabolic wisdom. This wisdom influences not only our movements but also the tapestry of our emotions. A disturbance in the myofascial network can reshape the emotional landscape within, making us a symphony of sensations, feelings, and physicality.

The Divine Unity of Bio-Tensegrity: In the realm of understanding our sacred vessel, two paths diverge: biomechanics and bio-tensegrity. Biomechanics, grounded in mechanics and the human body, perceives us as mechanical entities. Yet, our existence transcends mere mechanics, for we are not lifeless machines, but living beings.

  • The Wisdom of Bio-Tensegrity: Bio-tensegrity, the mystical path less traveled, perceives our bodies as harmonious entities, a chorus of muscles and fascia surrounding the bones. In this sacred dance, they distribute the weight, shifting the focus from individual bones and joints to the collective symphony of the body's interconnected elements.

The Song of Healing: Through this sacred perspective, we nourish our muscles, keeping them strong and supple. We tend to the interstructural tissue, ensuring its pliability. In this alchemical union, the body absorbs the burdens of life as a harmonious system rather than individual bones bearing the weight. We embrace the profound wisdom that healing is not an isolated event but a perpetual, interconnected dance of life.

As we navigate the labyrinthine pathways of fascia, may you find resonance with the sacred tapestry of your own physical being or vessel. Embrace the enigma, for within it lies the wisdom of your unique journey through this earthly realm.

Thoracolumbar Fascia

Let us delve into the enigmatic realm of the thoracolumbar fascia (TLF), a tapestry of connective tissue that weaves its way through the depths of our intrinsic back muscles, a story of profound significance etched into our very being.

The Dance of Layers: Picture, if you will, a vast diamond-shaped canvas of connective tissue, its most elaborate manifestation residing in the lumbar domain. Here, within this sacred space, we find layers upon layers of intricately woven collagen fibers, a tapestry of unparalleled complexity, veiling the back muscles that dwell in the lower thoracic and lumbar realms. These fibers, like cosmic threads, traverse the back muscles before finding their anchor in the sacrum, tethering us to the very core of our being.

  • A Symphony of Attachment: In the thoracic domain, our TLF takes on a more delicate form, a mere whisper of its lumbar counterpart. Here, it graces the extensor muscles of the vertebral column, entwining itself with the spines of the thoracic vertebrae and gently caressing the ribs near their angles. But in the lumbar realm, it expands its presence, crafting a formidable aponeurosis, extending its reach to embrace the flat muscles of the abdominal wall. It is within this sacred dance that the TLF divides into anterior, middle, and posterior layers, enfolding the quadratus lumborum in its tender embrace, while cocooning the erector spinae and multifidus muscles within its protective sheath. Below, it bows before the iliolumbar ligament, the iliac crest, and the sacroiliac joint, cementing its connection to our earthly vessel. Through this vast web, the TLF is bound to the supraspinous and interspinous ligaments, and it reaches out to touch the very capsules of the facet joints.
  • The Veil of Separation and Unity: This unwavering tapestry of deep fascia stands as a testament to the art of containment and division, a sacred veil that separates our muscular brethren into distinct chambers known as 'compartments.' It does not merely segregate but also unites, integrating these compartments and facilitating the transmission of the sacred load that flows through us.
  • The Alchemy of Flexion and Extension: Behold the marvel of the TLF as it engages in a dance of transformation. When the spine gracefully bends into full flexion, the TLF unfurls, elongating itself by approximately 30%. In this elegant extension, the fascia tightens its embrace, akin to a delicate metamorphosis. This act imbues the tissue with 'strain-energy,' a sacred reservoir of potential. This potential, like a dormant seed, awaits the moment of reawakening when the spine unfolds into extension, offering a gift of reduced muscle exertion in return.
  • The Bridge of Integration: Recent revelations unveil the TLF as a mystical bridge, a conductor of unity among muscles that were once deemed territorial in their actions. The gluteus maximus and latissimus dorsi, two colossal muscle titans, find common ground in their attachment to the posterior layer of the thoracolumbar fascia. In this profound union, they harmonize their efforts, orchestrating the intricate ballet of contralateral pendulum-like motions that define the essence of activities like running and swimming. This sacred dance transcends boundaries, reminding us that our being is an interconnected symphony, where the threads of the thoracolumbar fascia weave the song of unity.

As we journey through the intricate tapestry of the thoracolumbar fascia, may you find resonance with the profound interconnectedness of your being. Embrace the enigma, for within its depths lies the wisdom of your body's eternal dance.


The Dance of Posture

In the intricate dance of life, even the seemingly insignificant actions, like texting while walking, can have profound consequences on our balance and well-being. Let us unravel the tale of how fascia thickening, brought about by such everyday habits, can tip the scales of balance and vitality.

The Importance of Posture: As we observe someone engrossed in the digital realm, their shoulders bear the weight of tension, rolling forward in surrender to the screen's allure. The neck extends, the head tilts downward, and their stride becomes a disjointed rhythm, a dance of distraction. In this moment, their posture bows before the temporary collapse induced by the digital world's magnetic pull.

  • The Transformation of Fascia: Now, let us turn our gaze to the fascia, that intricate web of connective tissue that responds to our every movement. At the base of the occipital plate of the skull, within the sacred occipital notch, and at the origins of the cervical vertebrae, the fascia begins to weave a tale of transformation. It thickens in response to the gravitational strain imposed upon it. The head, a weighty guardian of our consciousness, bears an average load of 11 to 12 pounds (4-5 kg), supported by the seven cervical vertebrae nestled in our neck.
  • The Altered Center of Gravity: But when our head extends forward, a mere inch, tilting at a 15-degree angle towards the abyss of the digital realm, the gravitational forces multiply, pressing upon the cervical vertebrae with a weight of approximately 27 pounds. Our intrepid texter, fully immersed in the digital symphony, tilts the head at a staggering 60-degree angle, imposing a gravitational burden of 60 pounds! This weight exceeds the head's own, fivefold! The fascia, ever vigilant, perceives this as a trauma and thickens its attachments to compensate for the relentless strain.
  • The Pattern of Imbalance: Should this scenario unfold sporadically, in brief episodes, the body might find its way back to homeostasis, the harmonious state of balance. But when this ritual repeats daily, several times a day, the pattern takes root and refuses to let go. Our digital voyager now faces the arduous task of turning their head and standing tall. Pain becomes a constant companion on this journey. And we haven't even explored the saga of the shoulders or the hips!
  • The Saga of the Shoulders: The shoulders, fragile and reliant on the soft tissues that cradle them, bear witness to a similar tale. Rolled forward, bereft of structural support, they immediately succumb to the shifting pattern. The center of gravity leans farther from its sacred center, and the looming specter of imbalance beckons. Tasks that were once effortless, like playing catch with a beloved pet or reaching for a dish on the top shelf, become daunting challenges.
  • The Symphony of Balance Unraveled: In this labyrinth of fascial thickening and postural distortion, our protagonist not only grapples with neck and shoulder woes but also finds their balance teetering on the precipice of uncertainty. The head and shoulders, drawn forward by the gravitational dance, disrupt the center of gravity's delicate equilibrium. Stumbling and falling become unwelcome companions on their journey, and the shadow of serious injury looms ominously.

In the end, dear seekers, let us heed this cautionary tale as a reminder that even the most seemingly innocuous habits can reshape the symphony of our bodies. Balance, once taken for granted, can become a fragile treasure. Let us tread mindfully through the tapestry of life, for in the dance of posture and fascia, lies the delicate art of maintaining our inner harmony.

Plantar Fascia

In the intricate tapestry of the human body, there exists a hidden gem known as the plantar fascia, a tissue of wonder and revelation. Let us embark on a microscopic journey to unveil its secrets, for within its layers lies a symphony of profound meaning.

The Dance of Collagen: Through the lens of a microscopic study, we explore the plantar fascia's intricate design, like a masterpiece painted with different strokes and hues. Collagen fibers, the sturdy architects of this tissue, reveal their arrangement predominantly in a proximal-to-distal longitudinal dance. Yet, they do not adhere to a singular direction; instead, they gracefully meander in various orientations – vertical, transverse, and oblique. This multilayered composition mirrors the essence of fasciae, more than the rigid aponeurosis, inviting us to reconsider and revere this wondrous entity as the "plantar fascia."

The Emissaries of Nerves: Delving deeper, we discover that the plantar fascia is not a silent witness but a vibrant participant in the body's orchestration. It thrives with innervation, particularly where it entwines with the fasciae of the abductor hallucis and abductor digiti minimi muscles, and where it cradles the muscles of the sole. Pacini and Ruffini corpuscles, typically associated with mechanoreception, grace its presence. These heralds suggest that the plantar fascia's innervations hold the keys to proprioception – the wisdom of knowing one's place – and bestow upon us the gift of stability and mastery over foot movements.

The Awakening of Fascia: In recent years, the therapeutic realms have been abuzz with the profound role fascia plays in the realm of musculoskeletal strain disorders – the realms of myofascial pain, postural strain patterns, and proprioception. The revelations of this study stand as sentinels, reinforcing the age-old wisdom discovered in the antebrachial fascia, the thoracolumbar fascia, and the ankle retinacula.

The Coachman of Muscles: As we stand at the crossroads of understanding, we glimpse a new facet of the plantar fascia. It is not a passive bystander but a wise coachman, guiding the intricate ballet of the sole's intrinsic muscles. With every muscle contraction, every subtle shift of the foot's position, the plantar fascia, and the nerve endings it cradles, remain vigilant. If the muscles surge in excess, the plantar fascia may extend itself beyond its limits, an act of devotion to the body's harmony. It orchestrates a symphony of coordination during movement, an unseen hand that steers the ship.

In this revelation, dear seekers, we unearth the profound wisdom embedded within the plantar fascia – a tissue not merely of structural significance but of profound guidance. It teaches us the art of balance, the dance of proprioception, and the harmony of movement. Let us tread mindfully, for within the plantar fascia lies the whisper of the body's intricate design, guiding us through the labyrinth of existence.

Iliotibial Tract

illustration of the iliotibial band

Let us embark on a journey into the intricate tapestry of the human body, where we encounter the mystique of the iliotibial band, also known as the IT band. This fibrous guardian, an extension of the fascia latae, holds secrets of the body's intricate dance.

The Band's Silent Symphony: The iliotibial band, an enigmatic structure, dances in harmony with the muscles that envelop it. The tensor fascia latae, in communion with select fibers of the Gluteus Maximus, conducts this symphony. Together, they orchestrate a ballet of movements that include flexion, extension, abduction, and both lateral and medial rotation of the hip. In this intricate choreography, they lend grace to our every step.

  • A Guardian of Stability: Beyond the grace of movement, the IT band emerges as a steadfast guardian of the lateral knee. It offers its support to stabilize this delicate joint. This unique system, a treasure exclusive to humans, bestows upon us the gift of lateral knee stability, allowing us to traverse our earthly path with poise and balance.
  • A Web of Connection: As we delve deeper into the IT band's essence, we find its connection with the tensor fasciae latae, a partnership steeped in wisdom. This alliance extends upward, joining the lateral realm of the hip joint capsule. Through this, the tensor fasciae latae masterfully cinches the iliotibial band, bestowing a brace of strength upon the knee. It is as if the body, in its infinite wisdom, provides us with a safeguard, especially when we lift the opposing foot.
  • Merging Forces: In the intricate fabric of the body, the gluteus maximus muscle and the tensor fasciae latae share a common destiny as they converge into the iliotibial tract. They become one with the IT band, entwining their energies to contribute to the grand symphony of movement and stability.

Dear seekers of body wisdom, the iliotibial band is not merely a passive structure but a guardian of balance, a keeper of stability, and a participant in the poetry of movement. In its presence, we find the embodiment of grace and harmony, a testament to the brilliance of our earthly vessels. Let us honor the IT band, this silent guide in our journey through the intricate landscapes of the body.

Lengthening Facia for Pain Relief

Let us explore the art of fascia lengthening, a practice I affectionately refer to as "Yin Stretches." In this sacred journey, we delve into the realm of gentle tension and communion with the fibroblasts dwelling within our fascia.

A Dance of Gentle Tension: Yin Stretches invite us to engage with our fascia in a profound way, one that transcends the depth of typical stretches. It is a dance of gentle tension, where we converse with the fibroblasts embedded within our fascia, those wisps of connective tissue that hold our bodies together.

  • The Dance Begins: To initiate this dialogue, we commence with a movement that carries the essence of stretching but without the act of fully stretching the muscle. We beckon the muscle to its edge, that delicate precipice where the journey begins. I have lovingly named this point the "Yin Sweet Spot." It is here that we pause, cradling the muscle in light tension, without pushing it beyond its natural boundaries.
  • The Breath of Life: As we stand at the threshold of the Yin Sweet Spot, our breath becomes our ally. We embark on deep diaphragmatic breathing, a sacred rhythm that nurtures our connection with the fascia. Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing the breath to caress the depths of your diaphragm. Count slowly to six as you inhale, savoring each moment. Pause for two counts, embracing the stillness within. Then, exhale through your mouth, once again counting to six as you release. This sacred cycle is repeated ten times, a gentle ritual that spans about two minutes. Allow the breath to be your guide, anchoring you in the present moment.
  • An Example to Illuminate: Let us illuminate this practice with an example. Imagine the lower back, a realm often plagued by pain and the thickening of fascia. In such moments, the entire erector muscle group may contract, ensnared in the grip of spasm. To release this tension, we need not be confined to a specific location. Seek a wall, a table, a tree, or grasp a parallel bar—any surface shall suffice. Bend at the waist, aligning your upper body parallel to the ground. Your legs form a resolute 90-degree angle with your upper body. Now, coax the lower back to extend by shifting the weight into your sacrum, as if you are gently arching it behind you. Here, at the edge of your Yin Sweet Spot, we embark on the journey of light tension, accompanied by the rhythmic breath I described.
  • A Universal Practice: The beauty of Yin Stretches lies in its universality. It can be applied to any joint within our sacred vessels, fostering communion with our fascia and nurturing the dance of gentle tension. This practice, dear seekers, invites us to honor our bodies as sacred temples, and through the breath, we create harmony, not only within ourselves but with the universe that surrounds us. Let the art of fascia lengthening be your guide on this path of embodied wisdom and profound connection.

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