Fascia - a neglected structure

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Fascia - a neglected structure. International fascia congress in Amsterdam

Fascia is called the enveloping and connecting connective tissue in the body. If you eat a piece of meat, the fascia is the thin skin around the meat or, in the case of a cross-section, the white area that separates the individual muscles.

Only recently has there been an interest in these structures in medicine, as there are more and more complaints that cannot be explained with the previous models of anatomy and physiology. In the past, fasciae were valued rather negligibly: for anatomists, they were rather annoying structures that had to be cut away on the way to the vessels, organs, muscles and bones.

As a result, there has been more research and new knowledge about the fascia in recent years. It was found that these are not purely passive structures, but that there are some muscle fibers in the fasciae.
The fasciae do not end like a muscle, but they run over very long distances through our body. This then explains how pain can possibly continue in our body.

Fasciae are provided with many receptors, smooth muscle fibers and nerve fibers of the involuntary sympathetic nervous system. These structures can absorb stimuli or react to them. Pressure or tension, changes in temperature, changes in the tissue environment - all of this is perceived by these structures and can influence their functions. Since the fasciae give our body support, support it in its structure and also have a shock absorber function, they can have far-reaching consequences.

The fascia, which lie deep in our body, have special cells that are similar to those of smooth muscle cells - they are called myofibroblasts. The more myofibroblasts you have, the more immobile the fascia. At the first international fascia congress in Boston in 2007 a video was made by the French surgeon Dr. Jean-Claude Guimberteau presented. He was the first to succeed in pushing a mini camera under the skin of the living and showing the fascial structures in motion.

The three-dimensional network is very clearly visible in his images: blood vessels are pushed back and forth by movement, structures give in under tension and return to their original position, and you can always see that fluids are involved, the hydraulic capabilities and properties of this system suggest.

At the "Second International Fascia Research Congress" from October 27th to 31st, 2009 at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, the hand surgeon Guimberteau will present the continuation of his first sensational video, "The Skin Passage". It will be interesting to see what new insights will emerge here.

At the congress, greats like the anatomist Jaap van der Wal, the Rolfer and avid fascia researcher Robert Schleip, co-initiator Thomas W. Findley, the executive director of the Ida P. Rolf Research Foundation, Walter Herzog from the Human Performance Lab of the University of Calgary and others will speak and certainly come up with innovations on the topic. Alongside them, research will be presented and live demonstrations of techniques will take place. Workshops are then offered at the weekend. Among other things, the Italian Carla Stecco will be there with a model he has developed himself and will be eagerly awaited by many participants.

It can be said that the neglected structures of the fascia are given the appropriate attention and that this opens up completely new opportunities and avenues for those affected for the future treatment of stubborn and insufficiently researched symptoms such as Dupuytren's disease or fibromyalgia. (tf)

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