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The new proportion
This research points the way toward a holistic role for
the mechanical distribution of stress and strain in the
body that goes far beyond merely dealing with localized
tissue pain. 11 8 If every cell has an ideal mechanical envi-
ronment, then there is an ideal 'posture' - likely slightly
different for each individual, based on genetic, epigen-
etic, and personal use factors - in which each cell of the
body is in its appropriate mechanical balance for optimal
function. This could lead to a new and scientifically
based formulation of the old search for the 'ideal' human
proportion - an ideal not built on the geometry of pro-
portion or on musical harmonics, but on each cell's ideal
mechanical 'home'.
Thus, creating an even tone across the myofascial
meridians, and further across the entire fascial net, could
have profound implications for health, both cellular and
general. 'Very simply, transmission of tension through a
tensegrity array provides a means to distribute forces
to all interconnected elements, and, at the same time
to couple or 'tune' the whole system mechanically as
one.' 11 8
For manual and movement therapists, this role of
tuning the entire fascial system could have long-term
effects in immunological health, prevention of future
breakdown, as well as in the sense of self and personal
integrity. It is this greater purpose, along with coordinat-
ing movement, augmenting range, and relieving pain,
that is undertaken when we seek to even out the tension
to produce an equal tonus - like the lyre's string or the
sailboat's rigging - across the Anatomy Trains myofas-
cial meridians (see Fig. 10.1).
In fact, however, every cell is involved in what we
could term a 'tensile field' (see also Appendix 3 on acu-
puncture meridians for more in this vein). When the
cell's need for space is disturbed, there are a number of
compensatory moves, but if the proper spatial arrange-
ment is not restored by the compensations, the cell func-
tion is compromised - that is what this research makes
clear. 11 9 The experienced therapist's hand or eye can
track disturbances and excesses in the tensile field,
although an objective way to measure these fields would
be welcome. Once discovered, a variety of treatment
methods can be weighed and tried to relieve the mechan-
ical stress.
Fig. 1.71 Actual in vivo photos of the connective tissue network
by Dr J. C. Guimberteau show the varying polygonal shapes of the
microvacuolar sliding system - in this picture resembling the
trabeculae of the bones. One can see here how the capillaries are
held within the extensible connective tissue network. (Photo
courtesy of Dr Guimberteau.) (DVD ref: These illustrations are
taken from 'Strolling Under the Skin', a video available at www.
anatomytrains. com)
So many of the images, both verbal and visual, that
we present here are taken from in vitro experiments or
from cadaverous tissue. The microvacuolar photos in
this section were photographed in vivo during hand
surgery, with permission. How well they demonstrate
the healthy functioning of normal fascia, revealing a
surprising new discovery of how fascial layers slide on
each other.
Fascial layers in the hand, specifically in the carpal
tunnel, must slide on each other more than any
other apposite surfaces, so it is understandable that a
hand surgeon would seek more precision on this
question. Every fascial plane, however, has to slide on
every other if movement is not to be unnecessarily
restricted. Yet, when doing dissection in either
fresh-frozen or preserved cadavers, one does not see
fascial planes sliding freely on each other; one sees
instead either a delicate fascial 'fuzz' or stronger cross-
linkages that connect more superficial planes to deeper
ones, as well as laterally between the epimysia. This fits
with the 'all-one fascia' image of continuity that is the
motif for this topic, but it calls into question what con-
stitutes 'free' movement within the fascial webbing (Fig.
Such movement within the carpal tunnel and with
the lower leg tendons around the malleoli is usually
depicted in the anatomies as having tenosynovial
sheaths, or specialized bursae for the tendons to run
in - often rendered in blue in anatomy atlases such as
The microvacuole theory
The body has to relieve and distribute such stress con-
tinually, sometimes without benefit of manual therapy.
The mechanism for doing so - a fascinating fractal
adapting system in the connective tissues - has recently
been uncovered and documented. We cannot leave the
world of fascia without sharing some of the insights and
beautiful images that have come from the work of the
French plastic and hand surgeon Dr Jean-Claude Guim-
berteau. 12 0 These images show the interface between
microtensegrity and macrotensegrity (an artificial dis-
tinction in the first place) in action in the living body
(Fig. 1.71).
Netter's 12 1 or Gray's. 12 2 Dr Guimberteau has poked his
camera inside these supposed bursae of the 'sliding
system' and come up with a startling revelation that
applies not only to his specialized area of the hand, but
to many of the loose interstitial areas of the body: there
is no discontinuity between the tendon and its sur-
roundings. The necessary war between the need for
movement and the need for maintaining connection is
solved by a constantly changing fractally divided set of
polyhedral bubbles which he terms the 'multimicro-
vacuolar collagenic absorbing system'.
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