Connective Tissue Dynamics: Fascia — living, breathing, connective tissue By Dr. Patrick Nuzzo

I want you to think about this one thing as you are learning and understanding connective tissue and the fascia: Fascia is a living, breathing tissue. It is reactionary, and responds to external and internal stimuli. Let me explain. My practice in Chicago specialized in treating adult survivors of childhood trauma. These individuals had been physically, emotionally, or sexually abused. In treating this population, I discovered that fascia is where trauma lives, fascia holds cellular memory. Therefore, fascia is reactionary and it responds to stimulus.

During this time it was customary for me to interview new patients before I began to treat them. I wanted to confirm that they were in therapy and they had a support system in place—some way for them to process the feelings that could potentially be accessed by connective tissue manipulation. During the interview, I would give them this example to help them understand how fascia reacts. If they walked into my office and I took a box of kleenex and threw it at them, their normal response might be to throw up their arms to protect themselves. If the next time they came into my office I again threw the box of kleenex, they would again react to the stimulus of that tissue box hurtling towards them by blocking what was coming at them. If every time they came to see me they knew I was going to throw something at them, they would instinctively begin to react by putting their body in a protective mode.

The point of all of this is to say that the body learns to armor, react and protect itself against a stimulus. It reacts and compensates in order to protect. Fascia responds to trauma, whether it is a fall, a perpetrated abuse, or a repetitive motion done in a sitting or standing position, the facia constricts as a reaction and pulls body structure out of alignment.

It is critical to understand that when you are working with a patient and treating fascia, you need to look at the fascia patterns topographically and understand that the constricted connective tissue that is visual, pulls the vertebral bony structure out of alignment. To bring bony alignment, you will have to work through the muscle into the fascia to normalize tension in the ligaments, which then results in bony alignment. Adjusting the bony structure without releasing the tension in connective tissue only treats the symptom, not the cause.