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Fig. 1.75 The gluey, elastic, hollow fibrils in ever-responsive
interplay with the vacuoles create an array of rigging and sails that
changes with every traction or movement from the outside. Again,
a still photo fails to convey the dynamism and ability to instantly
remodel that characterizes this ubiquitous tissue. This gluey areolar
network could be said to form a body-wide adaptive system
allowing the myriad small movements which underlie or larger
voluntary efforts. (Photo courtesy of Dr Guimberteau.)
Fig. 1.76 (A) Microvacuoles embedded in the gluey
proteoaminoglycans with capillaries running through. This photo
was taken of fresh human tissue through a microscope at a
dissection conducted by the author some months before his
acquaintance with the work of Dr Guimberteau. At the time, we
did not know what we were looking at; in retrospect, its
importance is obvious. (Photo courtesy of Eric Root.) (B) Similar
bubbles are visible to the unaided eye in fresh animal dissection or
occasionally, as here, in embalmed cadavers. Again, before being
exposed to the work of Guimberteau, we took this as an artifact of
death or tissue exposure during the dissection, and therefore did
not realize the significance of what we were seeing. (Photo
courtesy of the author and Laboratories for Anatomical
It shows how the entire organismic system is built
around the pressure balloons common to both cranial
osteopathy and visceral manipulation. It suggests a
mechanism whereby even light touch on the skin could
reach deeply into the body's structure. It demonstrates
how economical use of materials can result in a dynami-
cally adjusting system.
One last personal note, however familiar it is, on the
scientific method: it is not simply observing, but observ-
ing with understanding that makes the difference. I and
many other somanauts have observed these microvacu-
oles as we dissected tissue. Each year at a class in the
Alps we dissect the Paschal lamb just after slaughtering
and before it becomes dinner. For years I observed these
bubbles between the skin and the fascia profundis and
in other areolar tissue, but dismissed them as artifacts
of either the dying process or being exposed to the air.
Figure 1.76A is a microscopic photo we took at a fresh-
tissue dissection 6 months before I was exposed to Dr
Guimberteau's work. This photograph is part of a short
video (which is on the accompanying DVD) in which
we were watching the behavior of the fascial fibers and
ground substance, but completely ignored the role of
the microvacuoles in the tissue samples, again dismiss-
ing them as an unimportant artifact.
To look at what everyone has looked at, and see what
no one else has seen - this is the essence of all the new
discoveries detailed in this chapter. Like any writer, I
live in hope that the Anatomy Trains idea that we will
now unfold has some element of this kind of discovery
in it, although the introduction makes it quite clear that
this idea lies in a continuum that builds on previous
ideas of kinetic chains, fascial continuities, and systems
theory in general.
Let us go then, you and I, and leave the larger picture
and the long words behind to expose the specifics of
how this fascinating fascial web is arranged around the
muscles and the skeleton.
1. Follow recent developments in fascial
research on this website.
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McLuhan M, Gordon T. Understanding media. Corte
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Williams PL. Gray's anatomy, 38th edn. Edinburgh:
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Becker RO, Selden G. The body electric. New York: Quill;
Sheldrake R. The presence of the past. London: Collins;
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Williams PL. Gray's anatomy, 38th edn. Edinburgh:
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Varela F, Frenk S. The organ of form. Journal of Social
Biological Structure 1987; 10:73-83.
Snyder G. Fasciae: applied anatomy and physiology.
Kirksville, MO: Kirksville College of Osteopathy; 1975.
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