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For those therapists who are not familiar with fascia, James Earls describes what it is and why all the fuss.

I am sure most of you have noticed a new word creeping into the anatomy and bodywork lexicon in the past few years, which makes it seem as if fascia is a new discovery. In fact, it has been around for years but was previously just a little ignored.

Fascia has been researched for many years, particularly in animal movement studies, but it is only through the interest of a few specialised bodyworkers that the research and its implications have come to the wider bodywork audience. Robert Schleip, Tom Myers and Gil Hedley, to name just a few, have been flying the flag for this wrapping, protecting, elastic, adaptive, continuous tissue for the past decade or so. They, among others, are showing the need to re-evaluate the anatomy books to take into account the huge contribution of this tissue, which was previously seen as relatively inert and often simply discarded during dissections.

Fascia is a general term used to apply to many other tissues you will be familiar with – tendon, ligament, aponeurosis, epimysium endomysium and perimysium, which are all made up of fascial connective tissue. Fascia glides, rebounds, protects, communicates and even contracts. If you understand the characteristics of fascia you can take advantage of these within your manual therapy of whatever form, because you cannot touch the body without influencing it.

PS. James Earls will be hosting the lecture: Revealing the myofascia (7 July, 10am-11.15am). www.fht.org.uk/50

Image: iStockphoto

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