Myofascial Basics – An Explanation
Explained by Judy Terwilliger, RN (# 322974), CMT (#25334)
To understand Functional Bowen™ Therapy, one must understand muscles and their support structures. Muscles are made up of tissues that are supported by an intricate fascial network that is literally connected from head to toe. They also contain hundreds of nerves that pass through them and are grouped in bands that respond to pressure/compression stimulating chemical and electrical signals. Besides giving shape to our form and assisting in the generation of body heat (temperature control assistance) they contract to allow us to move and function as human beings.
Those muscles associated with the skeletal system are the driving force behind the movement we experience. They are also the reason we may experience dysfunction as a result of their faulty function and the resulting restriction with adaptive processes we often note when pain signals us.
The primary function of the muscles, as it relates to movement, is to shorten or contract through the processing of certain chemicals (sodium, potassium, magnesium & calcium) under the electrical stimulation of the nerves embedded as described above. They contract under the control of the Central Nervous System, which has its center in the brain. This contraction process is active but muscle rest is entirely passive. The length of the muscle cell fiber, the chemical reaction and the electrical stimulation as it passes through the shortening process is what produces the contraction of the fibers. Further, there can be “fascial clumping” in areas of injury, prolonged over use, recovery from surgical interventions as well as a multitude of other factors which have produced inflammation. This “clumping” produces a restriction in the muscles associated in these areas. Because this fascial network is adaptive, it distributes the restriction across the musculature creating congestive restriction elsewhere and the muscle pattern dysfunctions we commonly see. This needed muscle rest is often hindered.
In this restrictive state, the muscle cell fiber does not return to its full length because of the related congestion. For the muscle tissue to find proper passive length in readiness to contract, it must not be adhesively dysfunctional with congestion/inflammation and the by-products of cellular metabolism. In this state, the nervous system is not readily able to access the full length of the fiber, essentially reducing muscle pliability, response and flexibility.
This congestion also causes changes in the muscle’s effectiveness by keeping the fiber shortened and can cause high levels of muscle tension, even spasms. It also reduces ultimate use in that part of the muscle and causes the fascial support network to seek the assistance/recruit other muscles to do the job the primarily affected muscle/muscle group is unable to do. This is a distributive structure/function problem.
The adaptive process affects the musculature and can produce pain with associated dysfunction. This congestion with fascial restriction is what our process in the Functional Bowen Method™ addresses. Additional information concerning our Functional Bowen™ Therapy process can be found on our website at www.knowmor.org.
We seek to assist the body in the resolve of this restrictive congestion by directed active muscle release that stimulates the myofascial network and nervous system to produce fascial movement and real passive rest for the musculature. When we are successful in initiating fascial movement and muscle rest, tissue pliability returns, flexibility is restored, otherwise irritated (or compressed) nerves can rest and pain can decrease.
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