Sunday, September 5, 2010

About that fuzzy stiff feeling between your muscles

This is one of the most interesting presentations that I have seen in awhile. It is by anatomist Gil Hedley who is a top notch teacher with a sense of humor. His website is "dedicated to exploring inner space" while much of his work is done with human cadavers. This entertaining video called "Fascia and stretching: The Fuzz Speech" is certainly thought-provoking as it describes and demonstrates the stiffness we get in our bodies as a type of "fuzz" between the sliding muscles. If we don't stretch or work out the "fuzz" through stretching, bodywork, foam rolling, or other methods it makes the movement between our muscles get sticky and stiff. Certainly, that is what we get from athletic injuries and overuse, but it is also what we call "aging". He certainly makes the point that we should not let things in our bodies get fuzzy and when they do we need to "melt" the fuzz. This is a great video, unless you don't want to view a few clips of human cadavers and their musculature. However the clips really do make his lesson "come alive".

Gil Hedley answers some interesting questions like "What is the fuzz? here.

Here is the youtbe blurb about the video:

Gil Hedley, Ph.D., of gives a lesson on the importance of movement and stretching to maintain the sliding properties of tissues in the body, as well as the value of bodywork modalities and yoga when movement potential has become inhibited.

I made this little clip when I was filming my DVD series in 2005.My thoughts have matured a little bit as compared to the way the ideas are presented in here, as might be expected from anyone engaging their learning curve and involved in a process of discovery, but I am also glad that so many people enjoy it "as is."

The relationship between the superficial fascia and the deep fascia consists of a variety of transitional tissue configurations, sometimes very loose (normally) and sometimes very fixed (normally), and I have found these differences are quite predictable from one area of the body to another, and from one body to another, whether the tissue is fixed or not.

Also, it is normal for there to be "fuzzy" tissue between "individual muscles" within the muscle layer. As with all tissues of the body, all the matter of which it consists is transitioning at various paces, some quicker, some more slowly. "Fuzzy" tissues indeed cycle more quickly then some more dense tissues. By example, the stomach lining sloughs off in 3 to 5 days, the skin cycles in 2 to 5 weeks, bone is cycling over the course of months.

There are what I call "filmy" fasciae all over the body, and when the dissector pulls on these "filmy" fasciae, they have the appearance of "cotton candy" when in traction (I show this in the fuzz speech), and this demonstrates the normal structure of the tissue: filmy and loose, usually found between layers of muscle, and sometimes between deep and superficial fascia.

I used this type of "normal fuzz" in my video as a way of providing an illustration for the

fact that, at a level which is initially beneath visual recognition, there is bonding (covalent bonding and hydrogen bonding) occuring throughout the body under various conditions, and this bonding is occuring amongst the connective tissues at large.

By using something visible to illustrate something invisible, people are helped to understand the importance of stretching, but for those wanting to understand more precisely, it is important to comprehend the difference between my illustrations using normal tissue "fuzz," and the kind of bonding which is taking place invisibly in connective tissue which can, in some instances, represent a pathological progression of tissue growth limiting movement.

That having been said, there are some areas of the body which do indeed demonstrate the possibility of tissue binding at the gross, visible level, such as accumulations around the thoraco-scapular interface, "normal" scar tissues, and visceral adhesions.

I recently wrote an article for the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, ed. Leon Chaitow, on this very subject, called "Visceral Adhesions as Fascial Pathology." In this article I discuss normal and abnormal types of adhesion in the viscera, as well as their causes and their effects, with illustrations provided. I think you can look this article up on line or will be able to once the print version is officially published, though I'm not sure that the print version has "hit the newsstands" yet, as the article was just accepted for publication in November 2009.

I mention this article because it is a concrete demonstration of examples where the inhibition of movement results in tissue

binding and pathological states of mobility.

There are students of the body who are oriented towards the research literature, while I am oriented towards the very practical efforts of observation in the laboratory. I consider myself more of a sculptor and philosopher than a scientist. Still, those involved deeply in the professional conversations surrounding these matters (and I have many such colleagues) assure me there is ample scientific research and support backing the general implications of statements I make in "the fuzz speech," which itself is offered not to "prove" anything scientifically, but rather to inspire folks to expand their inner horizons and outward relationships with this inspirational bit of fun. Thank you for watching!

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