Fascia Holds Us Together:
Fascia is a connective substance that ties our bodies together. It is a protein that is paradoxically flexible and firm. In the feet, it provides the tension required to stand all day at work but also the mobility to sprint during exercise. In the hands, it creates the stability to wield a hammer all day long but also allows the sensitivity required to pick up a baby. In our backs, it provides the strength to carry a heavy load but also the flexibility to lie in a hammock and enjoy the beach. Fascia is the material that Rolfers manipulate to create postural change.
In our bodies fascia provides the opposite function of bone. Bones provide compressive strength and resist pressures that drive inward. Fascia provides tensile strength and resists pressures that pull us apart. Fascia is the material that prevents dislocation when our bodies are pulled away from a normal position as experienced in sports injuries and automobile accidents. Like bone, it is a living and changing tissue that becomes thicker as demands are placed upon it and also shrinks as demands are removed. When our bodies begin to drop into the unflattering contours of poor posture we lose the natural support provided by our bones. The fascia thickens to support the weight changes of misplaced parts and in a short period of time locks these parts in the wrong position. This condition makes deliberate postural corrections impossible. Anyone who has ever tried to “sit straight” has noticed the tiresome effort required. In this effort, we are asking our muscles to activate and hold a position that our bodies cannot sustain. As our muscles become fatigued, the original position returns. A balanced person actually rests in good posture and does not struggle to do so. The fascia which shapes our bodies must be adjusted so this is possible.
The Parts Must Support the Whole:
Rolfing makes lasting changes to posture by systematically changing the fascia so that physical support reaches from the feet all the way upwards to the head. This is achieved in two ways:
- First, it physically moves the fascia. Fascia is much like a fishing net that is full of fish. If the net moves, everything it holds must also move. Our bodies unite bone, muscle, nerves, circulatory vessels, organs, and lymphatic vessels with the net of fascia. Everything is affected when the fascia is displaced by injury or repetitive movements. The consequences range from chronic pain in the knees and back to constipation, menstruation problems, and recurring headaches. The key to lasting improvements is the successful change in the fascia.
- Second Rolfing addresses the support issues that cause problems to occur in the first place. The Rolfing “Ten Series” systematically addresses feet and their relationship to the knees and hips. It addresses the hips and their relationship to the back. It addresses the lower back and its relationship to the shoulders and neck. It also addresses the relationship between internal and external muscles. Balance among these parts is well described as “equipoise” and is visible as good posture.