Connective Tissue - What is it and why are we talking about it?
The Connective Tissue system is a continuous matrix or web of tissue that interconnects the whole body. It covers almost every structure in the body from nerves to muscles, joints and organs and did you know that our very bones are actually specialised connective tissue!
Sometimes connective tissue is known as fascia and many body work therapies have been developed to treat this system.
Despite recent advances in medical knowledge and research this system in the body is still not well understood when it comes to its role in causing pain and physical dysfunction but in my own clinical experience I have seen many times that it is a system that can cause problems in the body and is often the underlying cause for many physical conditions that we see in the clinic.
What I have come to observe is that the connective tissue in the body seems very adaptable or malleable and can change its density or structure according to how we are repetitively moving or holding ourselves. All of our small daily repetitive movements and postures therefore can have a certain quality and can have an impact on the connective tissue in our body. It is in the quality of how we move that can support this tissue to be free flowing and flexible or hard, rigid and tight.
The simplest example of this that I have noticed for myself is in how I brush my teeth. Brushing our teeth is a movement or action that we do every day and have probably done thousands of times in our lifetimes and something we probably don’t give a second thought to. But what I have noticed is that if I brush my teeth in a fast, jerky way pressing too hard on my teeth or gripping the brush too tightly (usually because I am in a rush or thinking about something else or all the things I have to do!) then I can immediately feel a tightness and tension developing in my right arm all the way up to my right shoulder and neck. This tension feels deeper and more extensive then just muscular tiredness or fatigue and can last a lot longer than muscle tension.
So you can see that actually our connective tissue is very responsive to the quality of how we move and our posture which in turn are very linked to our emotions and our moods. So in a way you could say that the connective tissue is the link that bridges the mind and the body or the emotional and the physical.
Given the fact that it connects and interconnects everything in the body and covers or cradles almost every one of our physical body parts you can see the potential for it to either cause pain and dysfunction or bring vitality and flexibility back to the body.
Also I have observed tension in the connective tissue system does not respond to simple muscle stretches or strengthening exercises and you can do ‘normal stretches' forever and it won’t make any difference to the symptoms. I believe this is why many conventional treatments only aimed at the muscles or joints don’t work. I have studied and read many different things in my life and have observed and experimented for 20 years in clinical practice and over this time have developed a way of assessing and treating the connective tissue system.