Newsletter Juni 2012 Fascia News (ENG)

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A sporadic info letter of the Fascia Research Group at Ulm University (Germany)

Dear Colleagues

In case you receive this info letter for the first time, it is because you participated in one of our courses in the past or expressed interest in one of our products. We plan to send us these FASCIA NEWS between 1 and 4 times per year only, with latest news concerning fascia. In case you are not interested in this, you can simply respond to this email with the word 'UNSUBSCRIBE' in the text. Additionally can also unsubscribe at the end of this info letter.


Highlights from the recent Fascia Research Congress

The 3rd international Fascia Research Congress (Vancouver 28.-30.3.12) was booked out long before and 800 participants from more than 40 countries participated in the presentation and discussion of latest research findings. One of the new keynote presenters was Gerald Pollack (Univ. Washington), who described the difference between 'bulk water' in the body (like in blood, lymph, edema) as opposed to 'bound water', which is found in zones adjacent to hydrophilic substances (like collagen or hyoluronan) or hydrophobic substances (like elastin).

In a healthy tissue apparently the majority of water molecules are in a bound state, due to the 'fern-like' architecture of the proteoglycans in the extracellular matrix. This more 'structured water' then tends to behave like a liquid crystal, with very different viscoelastic properties than bulk water. There are some plausible indications (but no proof) that myofascial massage and movement therapies tend to increase the liquid crystal like proportion of water in the tissue.

Faszienkongress in Vancouver

800 participants at the recent fascia congress in Vancouver enjoy a movement break lead by Divo Müller and Ann Fredrick

This focus on liquid dynamics did fit well with a newly reported insight in the field of mechanosensation. Mechanosensation is the process by which cells sense biomechanics impulses from the outside and translate them into internal biochemical processes. Where and how the cells accomplish this important talk has been a hot topic in the field of matrix biology during recent years. Places for such mechanosensation have been localized in specific actin fibers inside the cell and also in some adhesion sites at the cell membrane. Now it has been discovered that the most potent sensors of the cell are located outside: they are the antenna-like cilia. Cilia are the soft hair like extensions with which the primordial ocean cells moved through the water. Still today most cells carry cilia around themselves as mobile sensors for the environment.

Apparently fibroblasts are most responsive to the detection of fluid shear - i.e. to the slow motions of the water around them - as sensed through their antenna- like cilia. It may even be that a large portion of the impact of collagen stretch loading on the cells may be less due to the transmission of that stretch to the cell membrane directly, but rather to the sensation of the fluid shear which is induced by the collagen fiber reorientation and which is then sensed by the hair-like cilia.

This new perspective inspired several of the attending manual therapists to orient their manual techniques on the perceived (or imagined) fluid shear around the cells. Adjustment of speed then seems to be even more important than directional precision or regulation of force.


Connective tissue cells sense outside mechanical forces mostly through their hair-like cilia

Other news related to function of fascia as a sensory organ for propriocepton. Carla Stecco (Univ. Padua) reported that collagen bands which do transmit high mechanical loads in everyday life - like the membranous extension of the biceps onto the lower arm - seem to carry very few sensory receptors. However, she found a particularly high density of proprioceptive nerve endings in the retinacula, i.e. in band-like fiber arrangements that run perpendicular to several tendons and muscles passing under them. Interestingly the mechanical function of these bands (holding the tendons in place) seem less important than expected. They seem to mostly serve a sensory function. Needless to say that these new insights promise important future implications not only for surgeons but also for movement therapists which are aiming at facilitating proprioception in their clients.

One new study was mentioned enthusiastically by several presenters: the neural scientist Geoffrey Bove (Boston) and the Canadian massage therapist Susan Chapelle had shown in rats that postsurgical visceral adhesions can be released by the application of daily gentle myofascial massage treatments. Since such visceral adhesions are common after-effects of abdominal surgeries today (estimations vary between 20 and 70%), this well conducted study could easily open new avenues for myofascial therapy applications inside of mainstream medicine.


New source available for fascia related books, DVDs, etc.

In collaboration with Somatics Academy GbR and the Herold Service GmbH (both in Munich) we were able to setup FASCIALNET.COM as a system for easy, affordable and rapid distribution of fascia related books, DVDs and other products. While the website is not yet in its final form, the online ordering process and delivery (also internationally) seem to happen like a chime. We invite you to have a look at it yourself.

Probably starting in August we will be offering the video-DVDs from all three fascia research congresses so far, as well as the related congress books. A new edition to this shop is also the impressive book 'Dynamic Body - Exploring Form, Expanding Function' by Erik Dalton. Besides well written chapters by Tom Myers, Robert Schleip, and others, it contains two particularly brilliant chapters: Adjo Zorn on 'Dynamic Walking' and Serge Gracovetsky on the 'Spinal Engine'.


New textbook on fascia

It is with with great pleasure that we witnessed the release of the following next book at the recent fascia congress in Vancouver 'Fascia - The Tensional Network of the Human Body. The Science and Clinical Applications in Manual and Movement Therapies'. The four editors of this >500 pages thick text book - Chaitow, Findley, Huijing, Schleip - together with 87 authors managed to summarize the current knowledge of this field. The book covers not only a solid overview of the basic life science foundations, but also describes the most important fascia oriented therapeutic modalities. In retrospect it is therefore hardly surprising that the work on this book included almost 4 years of intense collaboration between the four editors as well as between them and the many contributing authors. Thanks to the large quantity distribution of the book by Elsevier the book comes along with a very good price: the current introductory offer is as low as €39,90.


The first comprehensive text book on fascia. Over 500 pages, packed full with up to date information.


New tools for assessment of fascial properties

Since a few days our department has acquired a newly available assessment took, called MyotonPro. This tool was demonstrated at the recent fascia congress in Vancouver and allows for a highly sensitive measurement of biomechanics tissue properties in fascia which are close to the skin. Our colleague Christopher Gordon ( gave an impressive report at the Vancouver congress about his assessment of a treatment of myofascial trigger points which included this newly available portable. Several recent studies have found a good reliability of this novel tool in different applications. While still more studies are required to evaluate this tool and to assess its validity regarding measuring different fascial tissues, it appears to offer several interesting collaboration projects for us, not only within manual therapy but also in scar tissue manipulation, movement/sports therapy, rehabilitation, etc.

Another promising avenue are our recent attempts in assessing changes within the extra- and intracellular water content via measurement of the bioelectrical impedance. In our setting usually the electrical resistance of a tissue is determined by the use of 4 simple skin electrodes. In case the amount of solid bodies in the tissue can be assumed to be same (between two measurements), then it is concluded that the impedance reflects the changes in the water content. Preliminary evaluation of recent measurements of the plantar fascia in our lab showed clear water content changes of this dense tissue in response to different treatment methods. Our hope is that we may be able to contribute to the future availability of reliable, precise and affordable measurement technologies which can be used in daily practice by manual as well as movement therapists.


Assessment of myofascial tonicity in the area of the upper trapezius with a MyotonPro. Possibly more sensitive in measuring tissue stiffness changes than a well trained osteopath? Illustration courtesy of C.Gordon.


Symposium ‚Connective Tissues in Sports Medicine' in April 2013

Together with the Sektion Sportmedizin of Ulm University we are proud to be host for a 1st international symposium devoted to the study of the connective tissue response (tendons, ligaments, fasciae, capsules, ...) to exercise and sports. This symposium will be held in English language at Ulm University in April 13-14th 2013. The target audience includes MDs, PTs, fitness coaches, instructors in dance/yoga/Pilates as well as other interested professions in the field of sports medicine and movement therapies. Interest in this newly emerging field is very strong, which is also expressed by the fact that we were able to get the key international experts as presenters for this pioneering and promising event. More info at:


Fascial Fitness courses: too rapid?

Together with sports experts and several movement therapists our department has been instrumental in the development of a system of collected recommendations for fostering a remodeling of more resilient (stronger & more elastic) collagen tissue network through adequately tailed exercises. Conventional sports education has been mainly focusing on the classical tirade of muscular strength, cardiovascular fitness and neuromuscular coordination. However, most overload injuries in sports occur in collagenous tissues, which then seem have been loaded beyond their prepared (trained) capacity. The new approach Fascial Fitness attempts not to replace conventional sports training, but to complement it with recommendations for brief (3-10 min. ) specific loading exercises performed once or twice per week only. Loading includes end-range stretches (active as well as passive) as well as 'bouncing' movements that utilize and strengthen the elastic recoil properties of collagenous tissues.

While none of the current promoters has been putting this as their number one project or with missionary zeal, the international interest in it has been more than overwhelming. Most of the recent courses have been booked out and many request from potential course organizers are currently answered with apologies due to the overload on the currently qualified instructors. All involved parties are therefore motivated to speed up - without any quality compromises - the training of additional instructors. If you have a movement or sports related background and are interested in contributing to this dynamic and creative field, please check out the courses system at and let us know how we can support you.


Fascial Fitness aims at fostering movements that utilize and strengthen the elastic recoil properties of the body wide collagenous tissue network. The aim is a less injury prone and more elastic fascial body suit.


Fascia Research Society

One of the important pioneering events at the recent Fascia Research Congress was the announcement by Thomas Findley MD PhD of the creation of a 'Fascia Research Society'. This announcement was met with great applause, probably due to the palpable interest in collaborative networking and sharing of common recourses among the growing numbers of international 'fascianados' (name courtesy of Andry Vleeming). Several bodywork schools - such as Tom Myers's Kinesis - already expressed interest in a 'school membership' or similar, at which the school covers a free memberships of their graduates during the first 3 years. Graduates of that school get to taste the various advantages of a full membership for their professional work and interests, which may include access to a huge collection of research papers, books, video-records, as well as the ability to participate in study groups (called 'journal clubs') and online webinars. More info at

Weekend course with Paul Hodges (Australia) in September

Paul Hodges PhD from the University of Brisbaine (Australia) is probably the most quoted researcher in the field of physiotherapy. Together with colleagues he has been instrumental during the last two decades in the development of the 'segmental stabilization' approach. While this approach has become very popular (among PTs, Pilates instructors, and sports coaches), the more current research from Paul Hodges and his group added additional insights which suggest to extend and refine some of the claims of the original concept.

We are therefore very happy to be able to announce that we got Paul Hodges to conduct a weekend Seminar at Ulm University on Sept. 1-2, 2012. The title of this course is 'LUMBOPELVIC MOTOR CONTROL: an integrated approach to clinical assessment and treatment of motor control dysfunction in low back pelvic pain'. Good news: since this course has just recently been confirmed, there are still places available (contrary to our 'Fascia Research Summer School', which starts right after Paul's weekend). More info on this new course at:


So far the latest news from the international fascia research field, as seen through the perspective of our small Swabian group

Dr. Robert Schleip
and team members

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