In our planet, the stability of inert materials coexists with the vital mobility of living beings. Humans have, like other species, the so called collagen protein. This flexible protein helps create structures that are stable enough and at the same time, provides movement capacity. Collagen together with other substances such as fibroblasts, elastin, mucopolysaccharides and water, form a structure called connective tissue. This fabric is arranged three-dimensionally and continuously throughout the human body, unifying and wrapping muscles, bones, nerves, organs, etc. We call this whole network of connective tissue fascial system, commonly called “the organ that shapes”, because it has the property of separating and cohere.
As an anecdote, it is interesting to know that the fascial system or fascia used to be eliminated in different anatomical dissections in order to properly visualise the different body structures, thus obviating the study and direct observation of this essential tissue.
The main properties of the fascia are two:
The fascia is a mechanosensitive tissue. This means that it adapts and responds to mechanical demands. If we imagine for example a football goalkeeper making a save, when falling, his shoulder will violently contact the ground. The mechanical stimulus will be translated inside the cells into a biochemical response. The connective tissue will be remodelled and adapted accordingly to better support this stimulus. This process is called mecanotransduction.
At the same time, the fascial system uses the principle of tensegrity, a compensation mechanism to transmit and absorb forces. The fascia is in a state of stable self-balance, formed by elements that bear compression and elements that bear traction. In this way, mechanical stress is prevented from concentrating only in one area, and it is redistributed.
We can say that the fascia is a primordial tissue in the human body, which connects the different body structures. Its properties of mechanosensibility and tensegrity help modify the structure of the fabric as well as to absorb and disperse the forces.
From a therapeutic point of view it is important to identify the imbalances of this system, as a dysfunction in one point of the fascial system can cause problems locally and in other areas.
The therapist must locate fascial restrictions, and through the application of manual techniques such as myofascial release, will induce the reharmonisation of the system. As a consequence, the self-healing mechanisms of the body will be activated to seek homeostasis.