Lucy, an old school friend of mine, has always been a talented artist and illustrator, along with running a successful massage therapy clinic in Brighton. To my delight I discovered recently that she has combined both careers and produced this stunning, original painting inspired by her love of working with fascia. She’s currently working on a second, and you can see all her art here.
For years I have talked to patients about treating fascia. Getting a change in the fascial tension or texture or strain pattern seemed to account for the way some techniques could seem to unwind a whole limb, or how a loosening of the tissue attachments to the iliac crests could be related to relief of a tension headache. Fascial unwinding seemed to describe what I felt better than mere muscular relaxation. I often described fascia to patients as being like an internal wetsuit, with different compartments holding and separating different muscles and organs and vessels. I talked a lot about tight fascia. I told them it was like the tough tissue on red meat that you can’t cut through. I thought it held the key to a successful and lasting change – far more than a manipulation. When I first graduated I spent lots of time effleuraging the outside of people’s thighs, using my forearms, till it felt like the bumpiness and tenderness had been smoothed and soothed away. That technique was surprisingly effective for heaps of people with non specific low back pain, and I couldn’t have done without it.
Until I started reading more about and around osteopathy, I was unaware that fascia could be a controversial tissue to discuss. However I have now come across some anti-fascia commentators, who don’t believe that fascia is capable of being stretched or unwound. In contrast I have also come across many people positively enthused about, even obsessed with, fascia. I believe Still attributed enormous significance to it. Yes people love dissecting fascia, treating fascia, talking about fascia. People feel that it has been a neglected and underrated tissue. I’ve received a couple of cryptic, terse tweets, which seem to be urging me to realise that osteopathy won’t move forward till we all realise that it’s “all about fascia”. On the other side of the coin are people like Paul at the pain science website who has deconstructed all the excitement about fascia, looked through a lot of the research, and has written a very thorough and comprehensive analysis of the evidence for the claims we make about fascial treatment, and so that is where I would like to direct you now. As always it is a superb and enlightening read.