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and discarded on the way to the 'good stuff. Now,
however, we are at pains to reverse this trend to create
a picture of the fascial net with everything else, including
the muscle fibers, removed.
New methods of depicting anatomy have brought us
very close to this picture. Structural Integration practi-
tioner Jeffrey Linn, 4 6 using the Visible Human Project
data set, created Figure 1.1 C by mathematically eliminat-
ing everything that was not fascia in a section of the
thigh; he gives us the closest approximation of a 'fascial
human' we yet have - though this view also omits the
superficial fascial layers.
If we can imagine extending this method to the entire
body, we would see an entirely new anatomical view.
We would see the fascial sheets organizing the body's
fluids into areas of flow. We would recognize the inter-
muscular septa for the supporting guy-wires and sail-
like membranes they really are. The densely represented
joints would be revealed as the connective tissue's organ
system of movement.
It will be some time before such methods can be used
to show the entire fascial system, for it would include
(as Fig. 1.1C does not, but Fig. 1.1B does) the cotton wool
infusing each and every muscle, as well as the perineu-
ral system of oligodendrocytes, Schwann cells, and glial
cells and attendant fats which permeate the nervous
system, as well as the complex of bags, ligaments, and
spider webs that contain, fix, and organize the ventral
organ systems.
If we could then take such a rendition into motion,
we would see the forces of tension and compression
shifting across these sheets and planes, being met and
accommodated in all normal movements.
A grapefruit provides a good metaphor for what we
are trying to envision (Fig. 1.25). Imagine that you could
somehow magically extract all the juice out of a grape-
fruit without disturbing the structure within. You would
still have the shape of the grapefruit intact with the rind
of the dermis and areolar layers, and you would see all
the supporting walls of the sections (which, if dissected
would turn out to be double-walled membranes, one
half going with each section - just like our intermuscu-
lar septa). Plus we would see all the little filmy walls
that separated the single cells of juice within each
section. The fascial net provides the same service in us,
except it is constructed out of pliable collagen instead of
the more rigid cellulose. The fascial bags organize our
'juice' into discrete bundles, resisting the call of gravity
to pool at the bottom. This role of directing and organiz-
ing fluids within the body is primary to an understand-
ing of how manual or kinetic therapy of this matrix can
affect health.
When you roll the grapefruit under your hand prior
to juicing it, you are breaking up these walls and making
it easier to juice. Fascial work (more judiciously applied
of course) does much the same in a human, leaving our
'juices' more free to flow to otherwise 'drier' areas of
our anatomy.
If we were to add the interfibrillar or ground-sub-
stance elements to our fascial human, that picture would
fill in substantially, making the bones opaque with
Fig. 1.25 A person is not unlike a grapefruit in construction. The
skin is much like our own skin - designed to deal with the outside
world. The rind is akin to the 'fat suit' we all wear, seen in Figure
1.24. Each segment is separated from the next by a wall we see
when we cut the grapefruit through the equator for breakfast. But
when we peel it and separate the sections as we might with an
orange, we realize that the seeming one wall is actually two walls -
one half goes with each section. The intermuscular septa are the
same way. We often separate them with a knife, so we think of
them as simply the epimysium of each muscle. But just as the
walls are left after we eat a grapefruit, the walls are what is left in
Figure 1.1C, and we can see what strong structures they are,
worthy of separate consideration.
calcium salts, the cartilage translucent with chondroitin,
and the entire 'sea' of intercellular space gummy with
acidic glycosaminoglycans.
It is worth our while to focus our microscope in for
a moment, to see this sugary glue in action.
In Figure 1.13, we imagine ourselves at the cellular
level (similar to Fig. 1.3). The cells are deliberately left
blank and undefined; they could be any cells - liver
cells, brain cells, muscle cells. Nearby is a capillary;
when the blood is pushed into the capillary by systole
of the heart, its walls expand and some of the blood is
forced - the plasma part, for the red blood cells are too
stiff to make it through - into the interstitial space. This
fluid carries with it the oxygen, nutrients, and chemical
messengers carried by the blood, all intended for these
cells. In between lies the stuff that occupies the intercel-
lular realm: the fibers of the connective tissue, the inter-
fibrillar mucousy ground substance, and the interstitial
fluid itself, which is very similar (indeed, readily inter-
changeable) to the blood's plasma and lymph. The
plasma, termed interstitial fluid when it is pushed
through the capillary walls, must run the gauntlet of the
connective tissue matrix - both fibrous and interfibrillar
(ground substance) - to get the nourishment and other
messenger molecules into the target cells. The denser
the mesh of fiber and the less hydrated the ground
substance, the more difficult that job becomes. Cells
lost in the 'back-eddies' of fluid circulation will not
function optimally. (See Fig. 1.3 and the accompanying
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