Stress, Anxiety, Trauma

It's not a secret to anyone these past years that we are living in intense times. And chronic stress is impactful on our health. 

Years ago, when I was a massage therapy student, one of my instructors had asked me what system was the primary system. Massage therapy focuses on the circulation. And so I knew the proper answer was that the circulatory system was the primary system.

The problem was I never believed that. At the time, deep in my heart, I believed it was the neural system that was the master system. It only stood to reason: the neural system supplies the spark for all the others. 

As I went on to study Myofascial Release with John Barnes, I came to understand that it is actually the fascial system that governs all systems, including the neural system. The fascia encases everything, all our organs, and surrounds the brain and the cord. Pain-sensitive structures -- our blood vessels and nerves -- run through this soft tissue matrix. If you've ever pulled the skin off of a piece of chicken while preparing it, you have handled fascia. Fascia is the thin filmy tissue -- the web-like structure between the meat and the skin. The next time you skin a chicken, try to find where the fascia begins and ends. You can't. Because fascia is a web that connects to EVERYTHING. It is also pretty tough. When injured or stressed, fascia can have up to 2,000 pounds of tensile strength, a life-crushing force to those structures caught in it.

Shortly after beginning my training with John Barnes, I returned to school to become an acupuncturist. It was in acupuncture school where I came to understand just how much the fascial system is the master system of the body. Not only are our organs, blood vessels and nerves caught in this tissue, but the the meridians run through the fascia too. There was no more room for question in my mind. 

The fascia is central to our physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Yes, it has a direct correlation to our emotional and spiritual states too. It holds tissue memory. Our somatic processing happens through the fascial system. This is the stuff of body, mind, and spirit. 

Oh, and by the way? Diagnostic tests don't show fascial restrictions. So pain syndromes that your doctor can't figure out based on all those pictures they've taken of you? That's because fascia won't show on any of them. And it's why acupuncture and myofascial release are the therapies that are said to work when others don't.

A couple of years ago, some research was done on a "new system" that was "discovered," which seemed to relate to the treatment of cancer. They called it the "interstitium." We myofascial practitioners all chuckled a bit. They had apparently "discovered" the fascia. If you'd like to read more about this study, here's a link: Interstitium and Cancer Cells Study.

Why do I mention all of this now? Because as we say in the field, "the issues are in the tissues." If you are stressed by the circumstances of this world, your fascia is bearing down on your body's systems with up to 2,000 pounds of torque and pressure, affecting the flow of Qi and Blood in the channels. Yes, this can create pain, but since fascia also gives shape to our cells, it affects our health all the way down to the cellular level. This is also why acupuncture works for conditions such as hormone balancing and hypertension. Remember, the acupuncture channels flow through fascia. 

If you are feeling anxious or depressed, or just a little stressed, and especially if you have a history of trauma (and research is beginning to show generational trauma factors into this presentation), your fascia has an expression of this and it is impeding the flow of your vital life force. (Click here to learn how generational trauma is passed down).

Do you have questions about how I can help you with so much more than your shoulder or sciatic pain? I'd be happy to answer them. Please feel free to reach out.

Maria Mandarino

Maria Mandarino

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