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transmission. In normal functioning and in wound
healing, the slow waves of DC current that run along
the perineural network help to organize generation and
regeneration, and may act as a kind of integrating 'pace-
maker' for the organism. 55 " 5 7
In embryological development, the perineural cells
take on a morphogenetic role. For example, the cells of
the neocortex develop deep in the brain on the shores
of the ventricles. Yet they must locate themselves incred-
ibly precisely in a layer exactly six cells thick, on the
very surface of the brain. These developing neurons use
long extensions of neighboring neuroglia, gliding up the
extension like the reverse of a fireman on a pole, ushered
to their precise final position on the brain's surface by
the supporting connective tissue network. 5 8
The temptation to jump the gun and give this peri-
neural network a role in consciousness is barely
resistable. 59 ' 6 0
In the ventral cavity, the fibrous net organizes organic
tissues, providing some of the trophic and morphoge-
netic support referred to in the beginning of this chapter
in the quote from Gray's, and to which we will return
shortly. The bags that envelop the heart, lungs, and
abdominal organs develop from the linings of the coelom
during embryonic development. The result is a series of
differently thickened organ 'puddings' in cloth bags,
tied loosely or tightly to the spine and each other, and
moved about within a limited range by the continual
waves of the muscular diaphragm in the middle, and to
a lesser degree by other bodily movements as well as
exogenous forces such as gravity.
The French physiotherapist and osteopath Jean-Pierre
Barral has made an interesting observation that these
interfacing surfaces of serous membranes moving on
each other could be thought of as a series of inter-organ
'joints'. 6 1 He has made a fascinating study of the normal
excursion of the organs within their fascial bags during
breathing, as well as their inherent motility (a motion
similar to the craniosacral pulse). According to Barral,
the ligaments that attach these organs to surrounding
structures determine their normal axes of movement.
Any additional minor adhesions that restrict or skew
these motions (which are, after all, repeated more than
20 000 times each day) can adversely affect not only
organ function over time, but also expand into the sur-
rounding myofascial superstructure.
If the dorsal cavity contains one section of the fibrous
net, and the ventral cavity another, the domain of the
book in your hand is the third segment of the fascial net:
the myofascia of the locomotor system that surrounds
both of these cavities. It is interesting that a therapeutic
approach has been derived for each of these sections of
the fascial net. Practitioners of both visceral and cranial
manipulation posit that effects from twists and restric-
tions in their respective systems are reflected in the mus-
culoskeletal structure. That is an assertion we have no
desire to refute, though we assume that such effects are
carried both ways. To be clear, however, our domain for
the rest of this topic is (arbitrarily) confined to that
portion of the entire fascial net that comprises the 'vol-
untary' myofascial system around the skeleton.
This suggests that a complete approach to the 'fibrous
body' - a 'spatial medicine' approach, if you will - would
best be obtained by a practitioner having skill in four
ultimately and intimately connected but still distin-
guishable areas:
• The meninges and perineurium that surround and
pervade the predominantly ectodermal tissues of
the dorsal cavity, currently dealt with by the
methods of cranial osteopathy, craniosacral therapy,
methods of dealing with adverse neural tension,
and sacro-occipital technique;
• The peritoneal sacs and their ligamentous
attachments that surround and pervade the
predominantly endodermal tissues of the ventral
cavity are addressed by the techniques and insights
of visceral manipulation;
• The 'outer bag' (see the following section on
embryology for an explanation of these terms) of
myofascia, which contains all of the myofascial
meridians described herein and yields to the many
forms of soft-tissue bodywork such as strain-
counterstrain, trigger-point therapy, myofascial
release, and structural integration, and finally
• The 'inner bag' of periostea, joint capsules, thickened
ligaments, cartilage, and bones that comprise the
skeletal system, responsive to the joint mobilization
and thrust techniques common to chiropracty and
osteopathy, as well as deep soft-tissue release
techniques found in structural integration.
A fifth skill set that encompasses all four of these
areas is to set them all in motion, implying the host of
skills in movement addressed by physiatry rehabilita-
tion medicine, physiotherapy, yoga, Pilates, the Alexan-
der Technique, and a host of personal and postural
training programs.
It would be an interesting experiment to create an
educational program where practitioners would be con-
versant with all these five sets of skills. Many schools
pay lip service to inclusion, but few practitioners can
navigate the entire fibrous body with ease and set it into
balanced motion as well. 62,6 3
Three holistic networks: a summary
Before going on to the embryological origin of this
fascial net, it is useful to compare these three holistic
networks for similarities and differences.
All three are networks
At the outset, we have noted that they are all complex
networks, with a fundamental genetically determined
core form, though they seem to be distributed chaoti-
cally (in its mathematical sense) in their outer reaches.
This fractal nature suggests that they would be fairly
labile in their smaller scale structures, but quite stable
in their larger structures. In vivo, they are also, of course,
utterly intermeshed with each other both anatomically
and functionally, and this entire separation exercise is
simply a useful fantasy (Table 1.2).
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