Posture and fascia

"When one part of the body is in difficulty, the entire body loses its balance."
Dr.ssa Ida P. Rolf

Posture is commonly considered as the static alignment of the various parts of our body, a bit like containers stacked on top of each other. Posture, considered in a broader sense of the term, is the continuous change of balance between the various segments of our body, in relation to space and gravity; it occurs in all circumstances and in any position.

From a holistic point of view, posture is the result of the way we place ourselves in relation to life events and how these events effect our body. Over time, the quality of our responses to the environment has a profound impact on the nervous system and, consequently, on the connective tissue (fascia), the musculoskeletal system, breathing, circulation, digestion and other organic functions. Imbalances gradually effect our upright posture and restrict free movement patterns.

A further factor that inevitably affects posture is our relationship with the force of gravity, which continually attracts us towards the ground; the more we are aligned, the less the impact is weary and can therefore be transformed into an uplifting energy force.

In recent years the international medical-scientific environment has paid particular attention to the fascia in relation to posture and its imbalances. This collagen tissue network interconnects the entire physical structure: single tissue cells, muscles, tendons, joints, organs, nerves and blood vessels are intimately interpenetrated and wrapped by it, at the same time as being connected to each other. Together with the muscle structures, this infinitesimal network creates true myofascial chains.

Due to unilateral attitudes, lack of or excessive exercise, repetitive movements, high stress, trauma and nutritional imbalances, the myofascia becomes stiff and loses elasticity. The unnatural tensions created by the fascia modify the posture, breathing patterns and the functionality of our organs. Our body reports these imbalances developing acute or chronic pain in the back and neck, headaches, herniated discs, fibromyalgia, organic dysfunctions, tiredness, tremor and many other symptoms.

The fascia is highly elastic, resilient and malleable. With sensitive touch and strain we can obtain  excellent recoveries.

For a long time, traditional medicine has given very little importance to the fascia and considered it a sort of packaging fabric. Thanks to modern technology, in the last years the international medical-scientific environment has been able to observe this tissue more closely to understand its multiple functions. Since then, it has been coded as a neuro-myofascial network ("neuro" = nerves; "myo" = muscle; "fascia" = connective tissue).

Only lately science discovered that the fascia is covered with sensory receptors. Thisfore it is now known as the sixth sense organ. Due to proprioception it fires informations regarding the inner state of our body. Its imbalances can alter our sense of well-being and affect our quality of life.

The latest research shows that the fascia is reactive to neurochemical floodings during high levels or prolonged stress. These irritations create arousal, tension and can trigger and even amplify painful conditions to the point that they become chronic. For this reason, also pain-therapy has recently turned its attention to this tissue.

When the fascia is healthy, it is well hydrated, elastic and able to adapt. In this state of health, the various tissue layers are well lubricated and can slide freely over each other.

Spoiled postures, repetitive movements, lack or excess of physical activity, stress and hard injuries, are some of the numerous factors that alter the health of the fascia. It becomes denser, thickens, glues together and dehydrates. Already after a short time the alteration becomes chronic and the tissue becomes rigid, tight and painful. Even after surgery, a thickening and loss of elasticity can occur within a short time. A small restriction in the fascia can have a limiting impact on other body part, sometimes even very distant from the primary impact area.

By examining the fascia with specific high resolution ultrasounds, it has been shown that the application of manual myofascial treatments such as Rolfing and functional physical activities like Gyrotonic or Fascial Fitness, we can significantly increase hydration, lubrication and elasticity of the tissue. Promoting better sliding between the various tissue layers, will consequently lead to decreased pain.