Fascia & muscle
Welcome to our new Bluedog Seminar newsletter – this month as a follow up to the ‘New Look at Anatomy’ Lecture at the Peninsula Medical School, Exeter in July, I thought it would be good to respond to a couple of the questions asked in the feedback forms. Plus a few updates on upcoming lectures at the same venue over the next 6 months.
Question 1: Relevance of the Fight or Flight Mechanism to Fascia. It is a common enough question for those who tend to deal more on the physical side of things. What does a biochemical mechanism have to do with the tonality of Fascia and Muscle?
The short answer is – everything.
In simple terms I could put it like this:- If you are annoyed about something (which is a psychological / emotional state) a series of biochemical reactions occurs in the brain which triggers various parts of your body to ramp up. ie Heart Rate increases, Blood pressure goes up, Vasodilation occurs etc. Physical and Facial markers occur also (we can usually tell if someone is annoyed simply by their stance and expression). All of these physical changes in Fascial and by turn Muscle Tonus are a direct effect of biochemical shifts caused by the Sympathetic / Parasympathetic Nervous system (Fight or Flight / Digest & Repair mechanism).
It is a mind bogglingly complex system, and as mentioned in the lecture, the world authority on all things ‘stress’ is Robert Sapolsky – Professor of Biology & Neurobiology at Stanford University. I highly recommend his book ‘Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers’ – it combines cutting-edge research with a great sense of humour, and is one of the best books I know of that explains how the Fight Flight mechanism plays a major role in the cause and/or intensification of a vast range of physical and mental afflictions.
I would also point to the diagram created by Robert Schliep – Professor of Fascial Research at Ulm University relating to Bodywork, Fluid Dynamics & Tonus Change which is on page 8 of his paper on Fascial Physiology: ‘Fascial Plasticity – a new neurobiological explanation Part 2’. This first appeared in the ‘Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies’ in April 2003. It is also available as a PDF on the internet.
In short I would say that if, as bodyworkers, we do not have a decent grasp of the Fight Flight mechanism we cannot hope to understand the nature of the Injury / Healing process, of which Fascia is a key player.
Question 2: Relevance of ‘History of Western Medicine’ Content of the Lecture
Over the years it has been a constant struggle as to whether to keep the history section in or not, and if so how much do we cover. Based on feedback it tends to be a 60/40 split in favour of the history of medicine, as much of it is quite interesting and little of it is taught in traditional western medical schools. I have deliberately chosen physicians throughout history who, in my opinion, have taken a ‘holistic’ view on the treatment of patients – and who have to a lesser or greater degree changed the medical thinking of their time, and have contributed to the canon of modern western medicine.
Personally I find it intrinsically difficult to understand something fully if I don’t know the back story. The same could be said for injury presentation. However it is true that much of the historical section has little direct relevance to Fascia per se. An aspect of why I start off with it, is to aid in the breaking down of certain entrenched thinking styles that has been a common marker in certain bodywork arenas. The more familiar we become with ‘whole body working’ and ‘fascial continuities’ the less need there will be for this kind of slightly oblique approach which some find unnecessary at present.
The Biochemical Maze: Getting to Grips with Fight or Flight
This is an extension of the Fight or Flight section of the Anatomy / Fascia lecture, but with a different angle of approach. The aim is to give a better grounding in understanding the biochemical process that goes on in Fight, Flight, Tend & Befriend mechanism. This is especially useful to those working in Stress Management, Weight Loss and Depression, as well as a curious relevance to those interested in different forms of Meditation.