What is Fascia?
Fascia is a seamless web of connective tissue found throughout the body. It wraps around every muscle, bone, organ, nerve and blood vessel and holds the body together. It creates a three-dimensional web of support that facilitates – or inhibits – our ability to function and move. Thickened areas of fascia transmit strain in many directions and make their influence felt at distant points, much like a snag in a sweater distorts the entire sweater. The fascial system responds to injury, chronic tension and habitual movement patterns by shortening from both the forces of gravity and the mechanical forces of repetitive movement patterns
This fibrous web of tissue is located under your skin – collagen and elastin fibers give fascia its shape and structure. The fibers line up based on lines of force in the body. Repetitive motion, overuse, and injury cause the fibers to become disorganized, which prevents smooth movement. For example, if your hamstrings are tight, it might not be because they are over contracted – it might be because the fascial fibers are lined up at odd angles instead of lined up in a way that allows the muscle to move smoothly. This can cause tightness and restriction in movement. When your fascia shortens, thickens and becomes glue-like, it locks in less-than optimal patterns of strain and pulls your body out of alignment. The condition of your fascia is important because its communications coordinate muscular actions. There is more efficiency and ease of motion when your fascia is healthy and the fibers are aligned.
Structural Integration is based on the insight that your body is more at ease and functions most effectively when its structure is balanced along the vertical line of gravity. In this place, gravity gently lifts and supports your body rather than pulling it down. By systematically restoring the integrity of your fascial system, your body becomes aligned and the entire system can be a smoothly functioning and coordinated whole.
“Fascia is the organ of posture. The body is a web of fascia. A spiderweb is in a plane. This web is in a sphere. We can trace the lines of that web to get an understanding of how what we see in a body works.” ~Ida P. Rolf, PhD
The Human Body is a Tensegrity Structure.
Tensegrity structures evenly absorb shock and compression. Dr. Ida Rolf proposed that the human body is a tensegrity structure that can adapt and distribute movement, trauma and shock throughout the whole system. In Structural Integration the tensegrity view of the body helps us understand how the body works and how it compensates. Much like this simple child’s toy, when one of the connective elastic cords (ie. fascia) is pulled or pushed directionally, the entire object is deformed accordingly.