Emotions and The Fascial Web
Updated: Jun 12, 2019
Lisa Marie Foreman, BSc., DO-MTP, M.OMSc. - Osteopath
Dr. Still said, “I know of no part of the body that equals the fascia as a hunting ground.” Osteopathically, we address the fascia and its continuity. I will address the structure and function of fascia, and myofascial release, to shed light on the mind/body connection with emotions/fascia.
The fascia is a band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin (A). The fascia has a ubiquitous distribution in the body system; it is able to wrap, interpenetrate, support and form to the bloodstream, bone tissue, meningeal tissue, organs and skeletal muscles (A). The fascia has the ability to adapt to mechanical stress (A). The fascial continuum is like a flock of birds flying together without a predetermined logic and maintaining their individuality at the same time (D).
Myofascial release, a predominant osteopathic technique, is a manipulative treatment that attempts to release tension due to trauma, posture or inflammation (B). Points of restriction in the fascia can place a great deal of pressure on nerves and muscles causing chronic pain (B).
The fascial unity influences not only movement but also emotions (C). A dysfunction of the fascial system that is perpetuated in everyday movements can cause an emotional alteration of the person. This emotional alteration could be originating from constant myofascial non-physiological nerve signals (C). In fact, the position of the body stimulates areas of emotionality and the presence of myofascial alterations leads to postural alterations (C).
Most holding patterns are related to emotional fear, lack of trust. Movement patterns express personality patterns as well as vice versa (E).
Holding the breath is a pattern most of us use to ward off unwanted feelings. To some extent, we are taught to hide emotion. Usually, we don’t know that we are holding our breath, any more than we know when we make other habitual gestures (E). They’re unconscious. Patterns that we have absorbed unconsciously are harder to change (E). They are more ingrained in our characters than those that are absorbed knowingly, by conscious learning (E).
A blow, an emotional upset, whatever trouble we get into reverberates through the organism as a whole. The physical response to emotion is through the soft tissue (E). Emotions travel through the fascia web (E). People who do not wish to recognize that they have an emotional pain frequently transform it into physical, as in a tension headache (E).
Interoception is the awareness of the bodily condition based on information derived directly from the body (C). Interoception can modulate the exteroceptive representation of the body, as well as pain tolerance; dysregulation of the pathways that manage or stimulate interoception could cause a distortion of one’s own body image, influencing emotionality (C).
Osteopaths apply direct or indirect techniques on the fascia. That is, techniques of pressure on the sore tissue and relaxation or techniques of unwinding fascial tissue, respectively. Myofascial techniques are able to act on psychological and emotional parameters. A disorder involving the myofascial system will also have repercussions on the emotional state (C).
In conclusion, a dysfunctional myofascial system alters the posture and the emotional state. The fascial system is subject to manual treatment with the aim of restoring its proper function. The myofascial continuum is rich in interoceptors that are able to stimulate areas of the brain that controls the emotional state. Manual therapy involves both the structure and the emotional sphere (C). The myofascial system is unequivocally linked to the emotions.
(A) Anatomy/Fascia, NCBI Bordoni & Varacallo Dec 13/18
(C) Emotions in Motion; Myofascial Interoception. PubMed Bordoni & Marelli Complement Med Res: 2017; 24:110-113
(D) Journal of Integrative Medicine Vol 15, Issue 5, Sept 2017. The Intermindable Resilience of the Fascial System Bordoni, Marelli, Morabito & Sacconi
(E) The Endless Web: Fascial Anatomy and Physical Reality R. Louis Schultz, PhD. Rosemary Feitis, DO © 1996