Connective Issues – Feeling like an orphan

This blog is a follow-up to Anne Boone’s excellent summary blog introducing Fascia Research Congress VI in the last mail out.

It was so good to be back at a conference for my first time in over three years; reconnecting with old friends and colleagues, and embracing new ones. At Fascia Congress V (2018) we mourned the loss of Leon Chaitow. This time we mourned the loss of Tom Findley MD PhD after a long illness. What a nice man he was. His wife gave a lovely eulogy complete with photos and videos. Tom was instrumental in putting together the first Fascia Congress, along with Rolfer/researcher Robert Schleip, in Boston in 2007. I remember that conference as being organized chaos. How it has evolved to be so fantastic in 2022 is very much due to Tom’s enthusiasm and drive. See the video link below for one of his lectures on fascia. He really knew how to turn deep science into plain English.

Rather than going through the contributions of each speaker, what I’m mostly going to do is collect bits and pieces that I found interesting to add to your already considerable knowledge of fascia.

With one exception; the talk by Dr. Peter Friedl from the Anderson Cancer Center in Nijmegen NL blew me and many others away. The subject was The Mechanics of Cancer Cell Invasion In-vivo. He showed real time 3-D videos of tumor cells following ‘conduits’, or paths of least resistance through various tissues. Imagine it like the roots of a large tree growing underground. We were told not to massage tumors so as not to promote spread. But tumor cells actually massage adjacent cells and those cells massage them back. Helene Langevin later stated that stretching tissue could reduce the spread of tumors.

Below is a link to another of Dr. Friedl’s presentations;

Here are some other things I came across in Montreal:

  • The Canadian bio-engineer Mark Driscoll believes that the thoracolumbar fascia (TLF) comprises three layers. Many others say just two
  • TLF and other fascia remodels itself every six months
  • Muscle pressure and abdominal pressure influence spinal stability via the TLF
  • TLF is 25% thicker in patients with low back pain, and has 20% less shear
  • In the perimysium fascial fibers are ideally angled at 55˚, but can vary from 25˚ – 75˚
  • Twenty five percent of muscle force goes laterally, i.e. lateral force transmission
  • As we age elastic fibers reduce in number in fascia and more type 1 collagen is laid down making the tissue more rigid
  • Newborns comprise 80% water, the elderly comprise 50%
  • Tissue becomes more hydrated two hours after a stretch
  • Muscles get stiffer when they take on fluid
  • The legendary researcher/author Stuart McGill commented that the reason that Rectus Abdominus has tendinous inscriptions (making the 6 pack) is because otherwise the oblique muscles would pull it apart
  • Do we have 600 muscles, or one muscle with 600 parts?
  • ‘swirly’, broad pain leads one to think of a fascial source
  • Epineurium nerves are surrounded by their own concentric tissue as a sheath formed by connective tissue and/or fat tissue that protects the nerve and help it in all movements
  • Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) has been thought to be caused by lactate residue, free radicals and Z-line streaming, but could it be from eccentric contractions leading to increased fascial thickness and stiffness?

To conclude this blog, Helene Langevin of the NIH made the rather curious public statement that we don’t really know what myofascial pain is. This, after all the time she has been aware of the work of Mense, Gerwin, Shah, Sikdar, Donnelly, Fernández-de-las-Peñas, Dommerholt, and Giamberidino, not to mention Travell and Simons.  Seems a bit rich, since a Google Scholar search for myofascial pain revealed 62.5k citations and PubMed 4.6k citations. I didn’t hear the words ‘myofascial trigger points’ once in the three days of the conference. Like David Simons historically said “muscles are the orphan of the body”. Has myofascial pain joined the orphanage?

The next FRC will be in August 2025 in New Orleans. It’s going to be hot.

Cheerio for now,