- Order and Disorder
- The Whole Point
- Two Fundamentals of Rolfing
- A Note on the Nervous System
- The Series
Fascia is found nearly everywhere in the body, wrapping and connecting everything from the cellular level on up. In general terms it's called "connective tissue", but we usually call it fascia for short.
A web of collagen fibers and fluid, fascia takes myriad shapes, textures, densities and forms depending on what's needed of it—and while it takes on different names in different places, its power lies in its total continuity and in how it gives shape and structure to the body at every level (Dr. Rolf called it "the organ of form" because of its unity and its function.)
For example, fascia can be thin enough to wrap individual muscle cells (endomysium), as well as entire muscles (epimysium), giving them their characteristic shapes. And where all those wrappings join at the end of a muscle, we call it a tendon. From there it penetrates and wraps bone (endosteum and periosteum) and connects to another bone as a ligament. On and on it goes, in varying textures, density and strength, forming a web that structures and shapes the entire body.
And this web is constantly changing. At every moment, it is being reinforced, broken down, re-woven to reflect the forces it encounters—shifting body weight, the tension of leaning over a computer keyboard, the pressures and pulls of running on pavement, the release of a good night's sleep, or the work of a Rolfer's hands.
Playing off each other in an endless loop, tissue and movement (structure and function) are intimately linked. The history of a person's body—the habits of movement, growth patterns, positive experiences, skills, injuries, etc.—have their corresponding effects on the body-wide connective tissue web of fascia. And in turn, that web shapes how joints and muscles are able to shift and move, how bones are positioned, how gravity passes through the body.
Change the shape and quality of fascia throughout the body, and you've changed the possibilities for how that body organizes itself. Rolfers work directly with the fascia to bring about integration— but nothing is truly integrated without the brain being involved.