The following introduction to the field of fascia studies is lifted verbatim from the Fascia Research Congress website, accessed from the menu item About Fascia. It is edited from an original draft by David D. Wronski, FRC coordinator and website editor, with inputs and approval by members of the Planning and Scientific Committees for the First International Fascia Research Congress held at the Conference Center at Harvard Medical School in Boston, October 4-5, 2009.
Another more technical article is available to read online: Communicating About Fascia: History, Pitfalls, and Recommendations (Huijing and Langevin). This is also included in Fascia Research II, the proceedings book of the Second International Fascia Research held at Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands October 27-29, 2009.
Fascia has both generalized and specialized functions in the human organism. As such, it is the subject of a wide range of scientific research with many specializations of focus and emphasis. Similarly, fascia and its properties are of central importance to clinicians practicing in various conventional therapies and in the wide range of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) modalities.
Recent scientific research in the field of the human fasciae has resulted in several significant findings. Combined, the results from the worldwide research activities constitute a body of significant and important data. It is our shared vision that it is time to gather together all the latest and best scientific information about the body’s connective tissue matrix.
Future [Fascia Research Congress] conferences will continue to provide collegial settings for the mutual benefit and collaboration of basic scientists, academicians, and professionals engaged in the many clinical practices where fascia is an important consideration.
Fascia is the soft tissue component of the connective tissue system that permeates the human body. It forms a whole-body continuous three-dimensional matrix of structural support. Fascia interpenetrates and surrounds all organs, muscles, bones and nerve fibers, creating a unique environment for body systems functioning. The scope of our definition of and interest in fascia extends to all fibrous connective tissues, including aponeuroses, ligaments, tendons, retinaculae, joint capsules, organ and vessel tunics, the epineurium, the meninges, the periostea, and all the endomysial and intermuscular fibers of the myofasciae.
There is a substantial body of research on connective tissue generally focused on specialized genetic and molecular aspects of the extracellular matrix. However, the study of fascia and its function as an organ of support has been largely neglected and overlooked for many years. Since fascia serves both global, generalized functions and local, specialized functions, it is a substrate that crosses several scientific, medical, and therapeutic disciplines, both in conventional and complementary/alternative modalities.
Among the different kinds of tissues that are involved in musculoskeletal dynamics, fascia has received comparatively little scientific attention. Fascia, or dense fibrous connective tissues, nevertheless potentially plays a major and still poorly understood role in joint stability, in general movement coordination, as well as in back pain and many other pathologies. One reason why fascia has not received adequate scientific attention in the past decades is that this tissue is so pervasive and interconnected that it easily frustrates the common ambition of researchers to divide it into a discrete number of subunits which can be classified and separately described. In anatomic displays the fascia is generally removed, so the viewer can see the organs nerves and vessels but fails to appreciate the fascia which connects, and separates, these structures.
Clinician Perspective on Fascia
There is increasing interest in certain therapeutic communities in the role that fascia plays in musculoskeletal strain disorders such as low-back instability and postural strain patterns of all types, fibromyalgia, pelvic pain, and respiratory dysfunction, chronic stress injures, as well as in wound healing, trauma recovery and repair. The Fascia Research Congress seeks to present recent findings that advance knowledge of biomechanical and adaptive properties of fascia that may account for clinical observations in health and dysfunction.
The expanding worldwide scientific research on the human fascial tissues forms a body of knowledge pertinent to a wide range of professionals engaged in conventional and CAM modalities who serve individuals afflicted with specific pathologies or injuries of fascial tissue. The latest research will further the mechanistic understanding of many manual therapies and CAM modalities which contact, mechanically manipulate, penetrate, or otherwise involve fascial tissues.
Important lecture by Dr. Serge Gracovetsky from the First International Fascia Research Congress in October 2007 in Boston at the Conference Center at Harvard Medical School: