O:H header
In the centuries we humans have been studying anatomy, the fascia was never given much consideration. During dissections and autopsies, it was a nuisance to be cut away and removed to get to the important tissues beneath. But modern scientific study has brought a new appreciation of the fascia, as we continue to discover amazing functions of this misunderstood and underappreciated organ.

Considering how prevalent it is in the body, it's surprising how little we know about fascia. As well as its structural component, providing a counterbalance to the skeletal system through tensegrity, it's also a messenger system, a key organ of perception, and is integral for wound healing, inflammation control and pain relief. Yet, there is still so much more we don't know about this fascinating organ system.

Join us on this episode of Objective:Health as we delve into the fascinating topic of fascia. And stay tuned for Zoya's Pet Health Segment as she tells us all about dog dreams.

We're also now on Brighteon! Check it out here:

The mysterious world under the skin - https://youtu.be/bWU_DnC9t4I
Google talk - Tom Myers: "Anatomy Trains" - https://youtu.be/FOzsDItW7Bs

For other health-related news and more, you can find us on:
♥Twitter: https://twitter.com/objecthealth
♥Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/objecthealth/

And you can check out all of our previous shows (pre YouTube) here

Running Time: 01:16:07

Download: MP3 — 69.3 MB

Here's the transcript of the show:

Erica: Hello and welcome to the Objective: Health show. I am your host today, Erica and joining me are Doug, Elliot and Damian in the background. Welcome all.

All: Hellos.

Erica: Today we're going to talk about the fascinating world of fascia. For those who are new to this concept, fascia is called many things. Sometimes it's called the cobweb of the body, the connective tissue, the liquid crystalline matrix. But just to get started and give you an idea of what this connective tissue is, it accounts for about 20% of your body mass. A lot of times it's referred to as a sweater of the body. Fascia stores and moves water and it carries voltage like electric wiring. It also has semi-conductive properties. It's located directly beneath your skin and deep fascia surrounds all of your muscles and organs, even the brain.

It's also made up of fibroblasts, or cells that produce collagen and other fibers. It's highly integrated with the nervous system. I hope we can delve into this. We've got some video clips to share some of the amazing pictures and the research that's done. It's kind of a new science as you'll see in the video that we'll show here in a moment by Thomas Myers. He's a producer of a website called AnatomyTrain. I hope it shines some light. What do you guys think? Did you find the information fascinating? {laughter}

Doug: Fascinating fascia.

Damian: Fascianating.

Doug: It's really interesting because, like you said, it's kind of new. As long as they've been studying human anatomy, they never really clued in to this stuff and its importance, despite the fact that it was always there. The early people who were cataloguing anatomy were scraping away the fascia to get at the muscles because they thought that that was the most important thing. But more recent research has really delved into how important all this connective tissue is. I think that there's a new appreciation for it, how much it actually does and how necessary it is.

Elliot: Originally with the anatomical study, if a medical student was to go into a laboratory and look at a cadaver and, as you said Doug, it would be scraping away at this unnecessary junk basically. They'd just see it as useless. It's something that the good stuff sits within. So the muscle sits within the fascia or the organs sit within the fascia. Everything that is important is embedded within this "useless" material that they can throw away. If you look at a dead body, yeah, the fascia does appear to be dead, useless wiry material because it has no life to it. It's basically just very brittle. It's dry.

But the problem is that that is not how fascia is in the human body in a living system. It differs greatly from a dead system to a living system and when that system is alive, inside the human body or inside an animal, this connective tissue, this fascial network plays an enormous role in really facilitating the function of practically every other organ. So rather than the fascia surrounding the organs, it's that the organs are embedded within this one ultimate system. You can think of it like this massive, long dynamic cobweb network of connections. This is the way that every single portion of the body is connected to every single other portion all at the same time.

So the connection between the heart and the foot, the connection between the genitals and the brain, all of these connections are fundamentally facilitated through fascia and yet researchers and scientists all this time have said, "This stuff is unimportant. We don't really need to care that much about this stuff. It doesn't really play many roles." But actually, that is just so wrong. If anything, it's potentially the most important organ because it is that common theme in the whole body.

Doug: Yeah. It's like when particularly holistic practitioners will talk about how western science looks at things in a very segmented way, they look at this system and they look at this system, but they don't realize that it's actually an integrated whole, that everything is a holistic whole and that western science has made a mistake in segregating everything. Well it's almost like the fascia is the thing that makes it that whole, that makes it so that you're studying it as a complete thing and not these individual organ systems. You're covered in fascia from head to toe. Like Erica said, it covers all of your muscles, all your different organs, your brain. It covers the bones. It's everywhere and it's the thing that makes the body act as a whole, if that makes sense.

Elliot: Yeah. The way I think listeners can understand exactly what constitutes fascia - because if you hear the word fascia it can be kind of ambiguous - a way to understand it is that it is every single thing that is not inside cells. You have lots of different kinds of cells, right? You have muscle cells. You have heart muscle cells. You have immune cells. You have blood cells. All of these different cells which are clumped together and forming together to form tissues, which are then embedded within this fascia or extracellular space.

Well that is essentially what fascia is. It's the space in between, is the material which lies in between those cells, which covers the cells and which connects those cells to other cells and which is like the go-between area. And it's made up of lots of different proteins so it's primarily made up of collagen but you also have other kinds of structural proteins. On the collagen you have these little long sugar chains called glycosomino- glycans. You also have dotted sulfur molecules, sulfate molecules and you have them all intertwined as fibers and if you look at the collagen fibers which are making up the connective tissue, the collagen fibers are long strands of peptides which are twisted together in triple helixes. Then they form very regular, ordered arrays to form, if you were to look at it under a microscope in a living system, what is called a crystalline lattice. This is why they refer to it as the liquid crystalline collagen matrix because it is highly ordered, highly regular and very complex in structure.

Doug: The thing is, when you look at it, it doesn't look ordered. You can actually see in the image behind me here. It looks like a chaotic, cobweb thing but it actually is ordered and it is crystalline in structure which is very ordered. It's described as a fractal as well.

Erica: Well if you'd like, we can show our first video clip to give our viewers an idea of how fascinating this structure really is.

Video: Need to educate our children in how they move then you could have a look here at a dissection of the fascial system. This is a dissection of an untreated cadaver by Andrzej Pilat in Spain. That's why you get the flamenco dancer every once in a while. But he is showing you what it really looks like under the skin. We have had an altered picture of what it's like under the skin by looking in the books. Whatever anatomy you learn in the books, that's great, but there's a whole system of stuff, and it really is stuff, around the muscles like the skeleton of an orange and it's that part that we're going to be looking at here.

Now if you were all therapists I would be starting to talk to you about how you would affect the very deepest level, the endomysium that you can see looking like a honeycomb there. That honeycomb is around each muscle cell and then you see around the bunches of muscle cells in the middle picture you can see the perimysium which is the lubricating fascia inside the muscle and then on the outside, like ribbon candy that you see down in the lower right is the epimysium which is the Saran Wrap, the plastic wrap that goes around all the muscles which will go into the tendon of that vastus lateralis when it gets down to the bottom.

So we could parse out this thing, but the fascial system is a great big unitary net that goes all over your body. It doesn't just hold your muscles. There's fascia around the bones. There's fascia around and in the cartilage. There's fascia around your organs. Let's have a look at it as a system. Here, coming from the end of the 19th century is a French surgeon's version of seeing the fascial planes in between the muscles by cutting the muscles back and leaving the fascial planes. So this was an early way of looking at it, taking the muscles out of the inner thigh and looking at the fascial sheaths that are left. You just don't have an anatomy that really shows this. We're just beginning to get them now. A few people are beginning to publish them.

But if I take a piece of the thigh which you see here, going down the middle of the thigh, you see the femur in the middle, the skin and the fat have been taken off the outside so you're seeing the fascia profundis which is the fascia lata which is a thin sheath that goes around all the muscles and squeezes in on them. What you haven't seen in 500 years of anatomy, what you haven't seen is what happens if we take the muscle out of that and just leave the fascia. Now you see the fascia as a system. You see the fiber of the body as a wholly separate system that we have never seen.

In 500 years of anatomy we do not have a picture of this system. This is the best I can do and it's only a piece of the thigh. There is work underway now in the plastination lab in Germany to make some representations of this system but it is a really fairly much a Cinderella of the body systems in that it has been fairly much ignored and we're working with it of course. Whatever you do with your own body, you're working with the fascial system. Whatever you do with other bodies, you're working with the fascial system. But, could we do it better if we did it consciously?

Erica: You can pause it if you want Damian.

Doug: So that's pretty interesting, even though it's just a bit of the thigh there, you really get an impression of what a network is actually formed there with it and how it does interconnect absolutely everything so I thought that was quite interesting.

Erica: And it's interesting how this newly discovered system, as he said, wasn't studied in anatomy, all the different modalities that can be used to benefit it in so many different ways. So not just massage or exercise but an awareness of your everyday movements and how certain pain can be associated with not necessarily an injury in one part of your body but, like Elliot was saying, from head to toe, all the connection that happen. It's really almost like a matrix that has intelligence in the body.

Elliot: Yeah. The thing that he didn't mention in the video is that it's not only surrounding those cells but actually you see, every single cell has what we call a cytoskeleton. Cytoskeletons are inside cells. This is something that hasn't been very well characterized either. You've got all these different compartments of cells where you perform different jobs but actually you've got this internal scaffolding system called the cytoskeleton. This is made up of lots of different kinds of proteins which are long and windy and things, kind of similar to collagen in how they're made. This cytoskeleton is holding or keeping everything together, so to speak. But then you've got the membrane around the cell and through the membrane you've got these proteins which are connecting directly to that cytoskeleton and then those proteins connect directly through these things called integrin proteins, connect directly to the external fascia.

So actually this fascia network, this connective tissue, is essentially connecting the inside of every single cell, every single organelle. So you have things like the mitochondria or the nucleus which is responsible for the expression of genes. It holds the nuclear DNA. The mitochondria responsible for making energy, knowing when to make energy, knowing when not to make energy, knowing when to repair, all of this complex information is directly connected to every other cell via this fascia. So the fascia is not only connecting organs or tissues to tissues but actually every single cell is connected to every single other cell.

When you look at things like eastern traditional healing methods like Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, naturopathy, when they're talking about how the body is a connected whole, that is a very physical fact. That's not wishy-washy. That is factual. It's just not been accepted in the wider kind of scientific community.

Doug: It's interesting too because I know that they've been doing more and more work now in western science and they were skeptical that the fascia wasn't just a local phenomenon, that it did have effects like that, that affecting the fascia at one part of the body would affect the entire system. I remember seeing a guy who had an ultrasound on the back of somebody's leg and they were manipulating the person's foot or ankle maybe it was and they were seeing movement in the fascia in the back of the leg.

Now we don't usually think about that, that if you're moving your baby finger that maybe the finger on your opposite hand, all the fascia throughout the entire system is actually being affected by that, at least in a small way. Maybe we should slow down a bit and ask what are all the different things that fascia actually does. There's the structural component of it where it is holding things in place and surrounding the muscles, that sort of thing, and structurally keeping it there. But then it also is acting as a messenger system of some kind. We'll probably get into that a little bit more later on. It's also an organ of perception as well. It actually is communicating things from the outside world to the inside much the same way the skin is but it's on a different level with the fascia as well.*

So are there any other functions that I'm missing because this stuff is actually pretty amazing? You're muted I think Elliot.

Elliot: Sorry, I did that again. I did that last week as well. It's able to transport different materials through the extracellular matrix. This is actually really interesting. There's not much research on this but there is some and it's talking about how the dynamics of this extracellular matrix, the composition of it, its level of hydration, etc., is actually having an effect on what genes are transcribed in a cell, for instance.

So whether a cell is able to upregulate detoxification related genes to get things out or upregulate things like anti-oxidants, to neutralize damage and clear waste, this extracellular matrix is really a waste clearance system as well. When cells get rid of their metabolic toxins, their metabolic waste, that has to go somewhere and it's theorized that this whole surrounding system is responsible for accepting that and actually guiding it toward where it needs to go. You think you've got cells and cells produce a lot of waste and if all of those cells were randomly releasing toxic junk into the bloodstream and into the extracellular space, it's like, okay, if you had some stagnation or something there, then you'd get a major build up of toxicity in that area if you weren't able to clear it out. But that doesn't tend to happen.

Did I cut off?

Doug: No.

Erica: No, you're still here.

Elliot: So that doesn't tend to happen to the extent that it could do. It seems that actually this fascial network is responsible for taking that stuff and transporting it away. But then at the same time it's theorized that this is also responsible for guiding nutrients to cells, potentially cells that are in need as well. I think this is where it gets absolutely fascinating.

This touches on this innate higher level of intelligence that we really have no understanding of but which makes intuitive sense and it relates to cells almost releasing, I would suspect, electromagnetic frequencies or whatever, some kind of information which is saying "I need these nutrients. I need waste being taken out. I need this type of protein" whereas you may have other cells that don't need that. It's like, okay there is a system in your body which intuitively knows what each cell needs in terms of their nutrient requirements, in terms of their detoxification capacity, everything like that, and it has this system to be able to guide nutrients towards cells, guide material towards cells that are in need but then away from cells that don't need it.

That's a whole other layer of intelligence that is just absolutely fascinates me. I think it's amazing. I think it actually relates to this fascial system and I think there is science going on to try to understand how this works. But yeah, it definitely seems to be a kind of transport network.

Erica: So when they talk about fascia getting sticky or gummy, maybe Elliot you have some more insight on that. It's almost like you hear these days so much about collagen and how you should take supplements but if you're not moving very much, you're sedentary or you break that limb and you're in a cast, the body actually produces more collagen and it makes the fascia very sticky and gummy. Do you have any insight on that?

Elliot: I'm not sure. I think there are a couple of theories for why that might happen. There is the typical idea that when there's any kind of injury or inflammation that the body lays down more collagen fibers, a very mundane explanation. The difference between collagen that's dead and collagen that's alive is collagen that has energy running through it, so that's electricity running through it. In the dead collagen, if you were to open up a cadaver and you look at the collagen, it's brittle. It's rubbery. It's kind of dry. It's dehydrated. That's really the definition of it, dehydrated. What does that mean? It means it's not holding onto or it's not bound with water.

Now the fundamental difference in the human body is that the collagen system, this whole fascial network which is made up primarily of collagen proteins by the way, this whole system is everywhere. Every single place in the human body where there is fascia, there's also adjacent water molecules and because of the hydrophilic nature of the collagen protein, because of its certain charge, what happens is it has a very close relationship with neighbouring water molecules and in those water molecules - and Gerald Pollock has done a lot of work on this showing that essentially water molecules interfacing with a hydrophilic surface such as collagen or the fascial network by the way - when we have that interface then actually amazing things can happen in water molecules. You actually get charge separation and we have the water separation of electrons and protons and you have hydronium ions but essentially what it does is facilitates or produces what is known as a battery system which can actually produce biological work.

That's just one aspect of this, but when you have this tightly bound collagen and water system, then actually the collagen becomes what they call hydrated. Hydrated basically means that it's bound with lots of water. So you have these helixes of collagen. They call them tropocollagen twists, you can think of, loads of these twists and they're binding a thick layer of water around the collagen. When that happens there have actually been studies showing that this hydrated collagen network actually can then become conductive so it can then go on to conduct protons. The water can conduct electrons.

So you have this whole system whereby if you look at the structure of the collagen and the water it forms what is called a semi-conductor. Let me just go back to where I was. {laughter} Okay, I don't want to go too far off.

Erica: You're doing great.

Elliot: Just so the listeners understand, okay. Biological electricity, if you study biology, if you look at anatomy and physiology, the form of electricity acknowledged in the human body is related to the flow of charged particles across membranes. So it's the flow of ions. It's like potassium, magnesium, chloride. These are all charged ions and when they flow from one area to another area they change the charge in that area. They change the electrical environment. So that is considered to be the only electrical system in the body.

So in the brain for instance, they measure action potentials. That involves the transport of these different ions, these charged particles and that is activating all of this electrical activity in the brain. However, this is only a very small part of the story because electricity in the human body has been known for a very long time but it's quite difficult to measure. There's a guy called Robert Becker and he discovered in salamanders that actually there was a very low level DC electric current which was being carried through a system that was separate to the nervous system, that was not related to these charged particles, the flow of ions. It's a completely different system.

This is the case with human beings. It's the case with all living beings. Actually you have this very low level electrical network which really hasn't been acknowledged or studied very much but the only really viable possibility is that it has to do with this fascial network. It's no wonder that science hasn't really acknowledged this system because they haven't really even acknowledged the importance of fascia. So how would they know about this?

But what this is kind of theorized to do is when you have this collagen network in the human body, in a living system, it's bound with water, it becomes electrified and this can act as an information system. So it's connecting, as I said, every cell to every cell. It's a way to pass information at the speed of light. So if you look at the collagen fiber bound with water, with what you were saying earlier Erica, when you have these bundles of collagen, when you get a knot or when you get gummy collagen, that's said to be dehydrated collagen. So when collagen becomes dehydrated, when you lose flow of electricity to that area, then what is happening is that is no longer able to effectively bind water. It may be lacking in nutrients. It could be any reason. It may be that you don't move that area so you're not getting flow of lymph. But essentially I think it relates to when the system has lost its elasticity, when it starts to go brittle.

What's very interesting is that collagen is actually piezoelectric. It's also pyroelectric. Piezoelectricity basically means that when you apply physical pressure you can induce electrical charge and this has to do with its semiconductor structure whereby there's layers or a lattice of electrons and by pressing on it you're dislodging them temporarily. This is producing energy. So in the context of something like massage, osteopathy or chiropractic, when someone has this knot of bundled collagen, this dehydrated, non-elastic, very brittle structure, say in their shoulder, by applying physical pressure what we are actually potentially doing is we are inducing this piezoelectric effect and actually by doing that, potentially increasing the current of electrons or protons through that area and loosening it up, not only on a physical level, but actually on the level of physics, so to speak.

So it's not only that you're actually moving it around but you are actually changing the electrical dynamics that kind of structure and that is potentially allowing it to improve. The late Dr. Mae-Wan Ho did a lot of writing on the possibility that this was related to the efficacy of acupuncture. There have been models demonstrating a very strong link between what is considered acupuncture meridians and actually bundles of collagen fibers. So you have bundles here, there and everywhere and that they correlate closely with these acupuncture meridians and by inserting a needle, which is applying physical pressure, that piezoelectric effect, what you are potentially doing is rerouting electrons or protons through that structure and actually allowing the system to electrify once again, become dynamic, become elastic and actually carry information as it was meant to. Is that what you were talking about Erica? {laughter}

Erica: Exactly. You answered my question very thoroughly. Just doing the research for this show, there's so much information and it can get to be a little bit overwhelming as you look into it, what this means for everyday life, what this means for your movement, whatever type of daily activity you're in, whatever type of movement you have.

Going a little bit into what you said Elliot about things like massage and whatnot, when you have a pain in your neck and you go to a therapist and they spend the entire time working on your legs and you have relief in your neck even though they never even touched the neck area? It's so amazing to experience because just like you're saying, you can almost feel the release of a build-up of electronic energy. You get tingling in your limbs and your fingers and they're only working on your calf muscles!

Have you ever experienced something like that Doug or Elliot? Where you think you have an ailment in one place and you find that it's in a completely different part of your body.

Elliot: Yeah, indeed. I've had that several times. For instance classical osteopathy, the way that it was originally taught, they were teaching that if someone has a problem in their shoulder or they have a problem in their arm, it doesn't necessarily mean that you have to focus on their arm. Actually it could be an imbalance somewhere lower in the body. You may actually have to work on the foot to improve the arm. I think a similar kind of concept is that if the fascia is dysfunctional in another place that may actually be causing a non-local effect in a completely different kind of anatomical area. But I have experience that, yeah.

Doug: I have too, especially going through Rolfing. I went through the series a number of years ago. In preparing for this show I had known that Rolfing was concentrating on the fascia but I think that the more that they've studied and understood the fascia, it's actually going further with what Ida Rolf was doing back in the day even though her technique seems like it was pretty spot on. I've had that kind of thing as well. My entire posture changed after going through the Rolfing series. It wasn't necessarily that my shoulders changed after I had my shoulders worked on. It was working on different parts of the body changed the way the whole body was.

Erica: Exactly.

Elliot: Well when you think about this stuff or whenever I consider this kind of thing, it always brings me back to reading one of the books by Dr. Peter Levine...

Erica: In An Unspoken Voice.

Elliot: In An Unspoken Voice, where he speaks about how the body can almost store this trauma in the fascia in this system. If you don't know what fascia is then that can sound a bit woo-woo. You think that's a bit crazy and I still find it hard to get my head around how that could be the case but actually if you consider the experiments done on water molecules such as by many of the researchers in Japan where they exposed water to some kind of external stimuli and it demonstrates some kind of capacity to have a memory of the previous experience which is absolutely bizarre! - it's water! - but if water does have some kind of memory, some information system, then you're made up mostly of water and water is tightly bound with collagen.

It's like, okay if there is this kind of memory capacity and you are mostly water, then it actually would kind of make sense how past traumatic experiences perhaps - all the stuff he talks about in the book so I would recommend the listeners to read that because it is fascinating - how that can actually be very much stuck in this fascia, in this system. But then doing those techniques that we're going to be talking about I guess, the movement and whatnot can actually greatly help that to release it I mean.

Doug: Yeah. There's also another connection with the emotional component to it. I don't have a firm grasp on this but there is something called TGF. Do you know what I'm talking about Erica? {laughter} Basically there's this...

Erica: Thank goodness it's Friday? {laughter}

Doug: That's not the one.

Elliot: TGF beta?

Doug: I believe that's the one. It's a signalling molecule...

Elliot: Yeah.

Doug: ...that is released when there's stress. So there was an experiment done by a doctor - I'm trying to look it up at the same time as I'm speaking about it here - what they found was that the fascia did react to the release of this molecule when there was stress so that the fascia actually was reacting, becoming more gummy and tense as opposed to being more fluid when there was this stress released.

So you can imagine that in a more chronic condition, that if you are chronically exposed to the same sort of stressors, some sort of emotional pattern of some kind, that it would actually have an effect in the fascia. So in a sense that is storing an emotion in your fascia. They talk about it all the time with this body working type stuff, that you can have these emotional releases and it might just be as simple as that, that the fascia has reacted to this emotional state and that by releasing it you're having that emotional release as well. It does sound kind of woo-woo but at the same time I do think there's actually something to it.

Elliot: Yeah. Um...(sigh) {laughter}

Erica: I think...

Elliot: I don't understand it.

Erica: I agree completely and I'm with Elliot. I don't understand it.

Doug: Yeah, neither do I.

Erica: But I can definitely say in my experience, because I am a yoga teacher and I teach yoga several times a week and I have experienced clients having emotional releases after class. I always try and keep it kind of light because we all experience pain and I always use pain in the neck as a really good example. We use that, "Oh this person is a pain in the neck" or "That's such a pain in the neck". Really having people go outside of the box and be open to this concept that yes, emotional pain can be stored in your body and if you acknowledge that it's there and you do the breathing and you relax, then I do think the body responds almost instantaneously. I really do believe that. That may be woo-woo but at the same time I've seen it happen time and time again and, as Elliot was talking about, Peter Levine's work In An Unspoken Voice, I've seen people have muscle spasm releases where there was obviously a physical or emotional trauma stored in something like the leg, the quad muscle which is the largest muscle in the body, and have an actual vibrating effect. He talks about that in the book, that that's the body releasing that pain and then these people don't have that pain there anymore, if that makes sense. I know I might be going off on a bit of a tangent.

Doug: No, I don't think so.

Erica: In the very beginning of the book he talks about things like post traumatic stress disorder and if you endure a serious injury and you let your body convulse and you don't stop that convulsion, that you're less likely to have continued lifelong post traumatic stress symptoms which to me just says so much about the fascia system, how it's all interconnected, how it's semi-conductive, how it carries water, how the cells communicate. I'm so excited that people are actually starting to see the benefits of these types of things and that they're not passed off as new age concepts or as being crazy. At least in the United States, 40% of Americans suffer from back pain and they don't necessarily all have some sort of sustained injury but I think, from my research for this show, that the back has the largest fascial sheath in the body so it makes sense that with modern living, that is where people would store their pain and that is where the discomfort would come from, and then the solutions that we'll get to at the end of the show to help people with that.

Elliot: It gives a lot of validity to things like yoga, other kinds of body work which have previously been poo-pooed in the past by the rational scientists and medical doctors who were all so evidence based, in all of this stuff. Actually it will get to a point where this traditional wisdom and knowledge is verified by the science and people should be able to benefit from that.

Doug: Well since you brought that up, maybe we should go to that clip that we had about acupuncture. It's a video called The Mysterious World Under the Skin. You can find it on YouTube and it's actually an excellent documentary about fascia. There is one part where they talk about acupuncture. Damian, maybe you can pull that up. I think it started at 34:15.

Video: But to what extent can traditional medicine help? Helene Langevin has studied the role fascia plays in acupuncture.

Langevin: My interest in connective tissue and therefore eventually fascia, began when I was studying acupuncture. When you manipulate the acupuncture needle you have to insert the needle and then rotate it back and forth slightly. What happens then is that you feel something. The acupuncturist actually feels that the tissues are tightening around the needle. That's what got me interested. Is this important in the mechanism of acupuncture because that had not been researched before.

Narrator: Is it just the acupuncturist's subjective feeling that something is tugging at the needle when it's inserted and extracted or is there really a reaction in the connective tissue? Langevin wanted to find out.

Langevin: We first wondered is that measurable. If you can feel it can you measure it? So we did experiments where we did a robot that inserted the needle then rotated the needle back and forth and then pulled the needle out to measure the force that it would take to pull the needle out. We figured if the tissues are really grabbing the needle the force should increase after you manipulate it and we were able to demonstrate that.

Narrator: Every time the needle is inserted and removed, collagen coils around it like spaghetti around a fork. The sensation of the tug on the needle that therapists have long observed now has a scientific explanation. What's more, fibroblasts respond to the needle even if they're several centimeters away. This effect is also visible in an ultrasound. But what exactly does the acupuncture needle trigger in the fascia and could this mechanism of fibroblast activation within the fascia also explain the pain reducing effect of acupuncture treatment?

Langevin: The fibroblasts that are inside the tissues, up to several centimeters away - it's not just only at the needle - they expand. They respond. It relaxes the tissue. There's another thing that happens which we are interested in. It releases a substance called ATP. ATP is a signalling molecule. The ATP is something that we think may be possibly related to the analgesic effect of acupuncture.

Doug: It just made me think about that clip Elliot when you were mentioning that western science has to catch up. Here's a system of acupuncture that's been around for thousands of years and they knew that it worked. They had mapped out the meridians as they called them and they were using it quite successfully while all the skeptics are saying, "Acupuncture! Give me a break! [laughter] There's no science behind that at all." Well, there is! Clearly they see that something is going on when you put that needle in. It's not just a matter of some kind of woo-woo faith healing. There is a physical aspect to this where the needle goes in, the collagen fibers actually wrap around that and that's incorporating that needle into that communication network, right?

Erica: Well I think it's good that acupuncture is being verified by scientists like the one in the video because it can provide relief for so many people. As we've said endlessly on this show about western medicine, certain approaches just aren't working. So I think, especially when it comes to pain and body issues in general, it's actually being recommended more. Doctors are realizing that they can only do so much based on their really limited belief system of anatomy and healing, find something different. People are having huge results. We've done several shows in the past on acupuncture and interviewed some acupuncturists and it's really quite amazing, the feedback that they get from people who have been suffering for years and have released the first, second, third time that they have acupuncture and not even necessarily from the needles but the trigger points as well.

So we were talking before the show about some possible solutions for fascia or things that are...

Doug: Things that help fascia.

Erica: Yes.

Doug: As we've alluded to a number of times, movement is extremely important for fascia and I think the reasoning behind that is the hydration that you were talking about Elliot. In order to keep the fascia hydrated it needs to be moving. There needs to be some kind of activity there to move the water through that. I think that one of the things they were talking about in that same documentary is that the mechanism behind Rolfing is that by compressing an area quite firmly and moving very slowly along that, what you're actually doing is pushing the water out of that area and then when you release, the water rushes back in much like a sponge.

So if you picture having a sponge and you just squeeze it out completely but once you release it, if it's in water it will suck all the water back up again. That's a way of rehydrating the area. But it seems that movement and exercise and that sort of thing does the same thing, that dynamic of bringing water into the fascia and because hydration is so important for fascia therefore movement, exercise, massage, that sort of thing can be very helpful for it.

Erica: In addition to Rolfing - and I don't know, it may be the same thing, I don't know a lot about that type of body work - but there's a new form called myofascial release and it's a hands-on therapy. As you were saying Doug, pressure is applied slowly in a deliberate direction to melt that fascia. They say what's important is that it's not forced but that there's a sustained general pressure to elongate and manipulate it.

Doug: There's also doing foam rolling or working with tennis balls. People can do that kind of stuff on themselves as well, applying that long, slow pressure that works that fascia and will rehydrate it. Erica, you're a yoga teacher. They say that stretching is really, really good for fascia as well.

Erica: Yeah, there's definitely ongoing discussion, we'll just put it that way, because back to what you were saying about movement in general, a lot of times now, especially in the western world, people think of core power yoga or hot yoga or these intense stretching practices where it seems to be, based on the research by Tom Myers that I mentioned earlier of AnatomyTrains, that more deep, longer holds, what they call yin yoga, so finding your way into a shape where you feel an engagement of the muscles but it's not such a forced movement, and then spending 2-5 minutes in those postures, breathing so you can kind of let go of that chronic tightness. It's just such a fascinating way to come to a balance with this whole idea of yoga because, as I was saying, with this kind of power intensity you'll benefit but the more sustained, longer holds, relaxing meditative aspect of this practice seems to be amazing for the fascia and causing fascial release. But it's not a hard core, invasive property to that, if that makes sense.

Doug: Yeah.

Erica: Another thing is varying what you do. We've talked about the importance of fitness and lifting weights and even running for people who are into that, but to really not do things so repetitively. In my experience teaching yoga, you don't want to teach the same thing every class. You really want to change it up so that you can almost get every aspect of the body and not do tons of repetitive movement. One thing that Mr. Myers talks about is that you can really tell as body workers or massage therapists or yoga teachers, what people do for a living based on their body structure.

We all know about the classic hunched posture of people who spend all day at a computer terminal as opposed to somebody who works roofing or doing construction where they're moving their body in all these different ways all day long and how these repetitive motions that I'm using sitting at a computer as a primary example of that, that you've got to change your movement every 16-20 minutes because once you sit in that posture for that long, it starts to lay down those fascial memories so it makes it harder to make different movements. Does that make sense?

Doug: How long has our show been going on for now? {laughter} Maybe we need to do some stretching.

Damian: We're overdue.

Doug: Yeah, we're overdue.

Erica: Like Elliot was mentioning before the show, there are all these different exercise routines that are coming out that are really changing things up. So it's not just going to your yoga class twice a week and doing the same sun salutations, triangle pose. It's really coming to whatever exercise you do and really changing it up, varying it, so that you don't have this repetitive fascial binding movement happening. I don't know if I'm doing it justice.

Doug: No, I think you are. Actually researching this show has made me think that I need to vary my exercise routine a little bit more other than just running and lifting weights. I think I need to add some stretchy bits in there. There was one guy in that documentary, a scientist who started jumping rope after he had done so much research on fascia and realizing how important movement was. He started jumping rope. So maybe I'll start doing that.

Elliot: What does jumping rope mean?

Doug: Jump rope. I don't know if there's another word for it. Skipping, skipping.

Elliot: Skipping, yeah.

Erica: Doug weren't you saying there's something called Movenat?

Doug: Yeah.

Erica: I had never heard of that.

Doug: That's a cool one. I actually went to a gym for a while that was a Movenat gym. They're all about varied movements and things like that. It's kind of similar to CrossFit but they do a lot more movement-centered kinds of stuff like crawling along the ground or crawling on your belly or doing a crab walk or duck walk or climbing different things in different ways, swinging on things. They're just really all about varied movement. I don't know if they know anything about fascia. It might just be from the perspective of being more versatile in your movements and being more flexible and strong. It was a pretty cool course to go to. Movenat, I would check that out if anybody's interested.

Elliot: How about dancing?

Doug: For sure!

Erica: Most definitely.

Doug: Yeah, break dancing especially. {laughter} You're doing all the inversions and everything, swirling around, spinning...

Erica: Spinning around on your head. When it comes to these kinds of applications of movement to help your fascia, it doesn't have to be something that you do an hour every day or three times a week. It can be 10 or 15 minutes. So back to the chair picture if you will, even if you're sitting at a desk, which a lot of people do, just moving around and even taking your hands behind your seat or taking your arms out or lifting your arms above the head is going to be better than just locking yourself into this shape. What happens is it gets harder and harder to build the muscle to build the strength to counterbalance that.

So I'll give a really good recommendation for fascia release for people who sit in chairs that I try and do every day even for 5 or 10 minutes. It's to just roll up a blanket and lay on your back and put the blanket up your spine. It doesn't have to be a big roll. It can be a yoga mat and just let the upper body kind of mold over that. Your head is supported as well. That is the opposite of all of this forward motion. I sometimes call this the lazy teenager posture or the texting posture, but spending time opening the front of the spine and releasing that fascia in that supported way to counterbalance whatever repetitive movement you do every day.

Doug: That's probably a good idea.

Erica: That's for a lot of sitting at a desk.

Doug: I'm going to try that actually because I think that's a good idea. How long did you say to hold it for?

Erica: Well you'll notice about the first minute or two it's going to be uncomfortable because it's the exact opposite of what you're used to but if you can hold it up to five minutes while doing pipe breathing or some type of deep diaphragmatic belling breathing, after about a minute or two the fascia's going to start to release a little bit. You're going to start to feel a releasing, especially in the shoulders. Most definitely there because we all tend to have that hunched posture because we're protecting those vital organs of our body. So it's not a common place to be to be rolling your shoulders back and opening your chest up. Again, just lay on your back. You can have your knees bent, your feet on the floor. You can put that roll all the way along your spine. Make sure that your head is supported too and just experiment with relaxing into it. Feel the sensations in the fascia here but also in the back. Then you can extend your legs after that.

So that picture that we have there, she's got the support underneath the shoulder blades which is really nice too. You can do that. But you can shift that mat so it's right underneath the spine. And you can make the roll really big and get a way deeper opening but that's going to be very discomforting for a lot of people at first. Fascinating Fascia.

Doug: Fascinating fascia indeed.

Damian: You're talking about something like this, right?

Erica: Yes, exactly. That's exactly it. It will be very interesting. See how the man's hands are kind of off the floor a little bit so that's range of motion. They can't get the back of their hands on the floor. But with practice, two to three times a week, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, they'll start to notice that range of motion shift because all that fascia is loosening and you're breathing into it and as Elliot was saying, this idea of water and hydration, the body will start to shift and change.

I've never had Rolfing done but I've heard a lot of people share that it's definitely not the most enjoyable experience.

Doug: It's painful.

Erica: Yeah. So I think there's ways to get into manipulating the fascia that doesn't have to be as intense as something like Rolfing. Again, I've never had Rolfing done but I have had what's called Ashiatsu and that is where they walk on you with their feet. Back to what I was saying earlier about having pain in my neck and going to an Ashiatsu therapist, they hold onto the ceiling and they walk on you and put all the weight of their body on you. She worked for 45 minutes on my calf muscles and it was the most intense experience I've ever had. But what happened is I could feel that electrical current going from my calf muscles all the way to my neck and when I got off the table I had no more neck pain.

Doug: Wow!

Erica: So I am a huge believer. I really am a huge believer in any sort of manipulative modality where they're moving that fascia around and it provides relief.

Doug: And she knew you had neck pain and decided to work on your calves? Is that how it worked?

Erica: Yeah. The descriptor that she used which I thought was really well put was that your connective tissue should be spongy but it's not. It's more like a steak in the seal-a-meal package where all the air has been sucked out of it and if you were to squeeze the steak, it's really hard.

I feel like we didn't even really scrape the surface on this topic as much as we could have but I definitely recommend that documentary that Doug mentioned, The Mysterious World Under the Skin. It's all about the science that they're doing in this realm and how they're discovering all these new things like how acupuncture works and then endless videos about using myofascial release, foam rollers, even yoga stretching. I recommend for people who have never done yoga to try a practice like gentle yoga or yin yoga first before you go to the hard core power stuff because you want to be physically able to do that more difficult stuff and not hurt yourself. People hurt themselves in yoga all the time.

The Movenat, the animal movements, playing like a kid. Years ago we did a show about the importance of play and I think coming back to that idea, throwing a Frisbee, throwing a ball, swimming, jumping around, walking barefoot, all these different things can be incorporated into your daily life, even if it's for just 10 or 15 minutes. And getting up out of your chair if you work at a desk, every 20 minutes, even to just stand and stretch.

Doug: It's a fascial rejuvenation program.

Erica: For mind, body and spirit.

Elliot: (video of break dancing-spinning on his head) Definitely don't do that. No, I don't do that. Don't try and do that one there! {laughter}

Doug: That's the beginners programs.

Erica: So he's stimulating a lot of fascia and oh, I hope he's not hurting his neck!

Doug: Yeah. Probably lymphatic drainage too.

Erica: Yes, most definitely lymphatic drainage going on there.

Elliot: And some neck breakage as well. {laughter}

Erica: Lord have mercy!

Elliot: One other thing. Grounding is apparently meant to help because you know they say the body is absorbing electrons from the ground because the electrons are going from a higher density to lower density or high concentration to low concentration. Apparently the collagen is the thing which is actually conducting this stuff which is allowing it to flow, the fascia is. The flow of electrons through these gelled-up areas helps to free that up.

There are certain proponents who will say that just standing on the ground can help to free everything up and I guess even better, doing those exercises on the ground outside, having that roll and putting it on the grass and doing it on the grass!

Doug: That would be great.

Erica: Definitely, yes. One last little thing that people can do every day that's recommended in one of the articles we were reading, set your alarm about 10 minutes before you plan on getting up and just lie in bed and until your body feels that natural inclination to stretch. We all know when we wake up in the morning first thing, but sometimes it takes up to 10 minutes just lying there and then all of a sudden the body will have this reaction to stretch your arms above your head and point your toes or do whatever and to practice that with patience. I know for most of us the alarm goes off and we jump out of bed and start our day. I do believe it was Mr. Myers who was recommending giving yourself that 10 minute window in the morning to listen to the body, do that first stretch and then step out of bed after that. You see dogs do it all the time.

Doug: And cats, yeah.

Erica: And cats. I don't have any cats but I do have dogs and because I do teach yoga I always watch my dogs do down dog and I'm like, "That's why the do it. They are stretching everything in their body right now." It's very fascinating.

Elliot: It feels really good as well, right.

Damian: I started doing sun salutations as soon as I got out of bed. That's kind of like a dog stretch.

Erica: Yes.

Damian: It's pretty good.

Doug: There's downward dog in that.

Erica: And I really think it changes your whole day, just taking those couple of minutes first thing in the morning to do that. It's almost like what you were saying Elliot about all the different properties of fascia and all the amazing explanations that you had but kind of sending the wiring through the body to go through the day in a different way than just that, "Oh god, another day!" Changing your frequency for your day. I think it really does. That's why traditionally yoga was practiced first thing in the morning to set the tone for your body for your day.

I feel like we covered a lot, as much as we could for this show. We do have a pet health segment and Damian, if you'd like to play that pet health segment.

Damian: Sure.

Zoya: Hello and welcome to the pet health segment of the Objective: Health program. This segment's topic is dreaming. Everyone who has a pet can say with certainty that they dream but here is a short video that gives some information about it. And don't forget to stay until the end and watch a funny animal video. Have an awesome summer everyone. Bye-bye.

Video: Sorry guys, I was having a dream about my dog. Speaking of dreams, have you ever stopped and wondered what's going on in your furry friend's head while it sleeps? Do animals have dreams the same way humans do? Let's find out on today's episode of Colossal Questions.

The hardest part about answering this question for scientists is that well, pets can't tell us about their dreams. But basically everything we do know about whether or not animals dream comes from what we know about our own dreams. Each night, about an hour or two after you fall asleep your eyeballs will start darting around behind your closed eyelids. This stage of your sleep cycle is called REM sleep, which stands for rapid eye movement. During this stage your body is powered down but your brain is as active as when you're awake.

For humans the REM stage is when dreaming begins. Many scientists have looked at the brain activity of sleeping animals to try and solve the mystery once and for all. What they found is that almost all mammals and birds have a REM stage when they sleep and cold-blooded animals like reptiles, amphibians and fish don't. But the research didn't stop there.

Researchers at MIT put rats on a track and measured their brain activity while they moved towards food at the other end of the track. Once the same rats fell into the REM stage of sleep, they measured their brain again and saw identical patterns. This led scientists to believe that the rats were dreaming about running for food on the track.

Many experts believe the same thing is true for dogs. Like rats, pups likely dream about their day-to-day lives and experiences. Pretty cool! Even cooler, the smaller the dog, the more it dreams. Small dogs can have dreams as often as every 10 minutes while big dogs can have an hour or two between dreams.

In another study scientists measured the brain activity of singing birds. Once the birds fell asleep the researchers measured again and - you guessed it - the brain activity was almost exactly the same. The experts still don't know for sure but this has led many to believe the birds are either dreaming about singing or they can hear their own song in their sleep.

So, does your little pug muffin dream? Many experts think it's likely. So next time your dog starts running in place while it's sleeping, rest assured, she's probably dreaming about that great fuzzy tennis ball in the sky. That's a good boy Mr. Sprinkles!

Erica: That was great.

Doug: That was great. You know what I did? This is hilarious. I was stretching during the pet health segment because I haven't stretched in a while and I totally cramped up in my back. {laughter} Take it slow peeps! Take it slow!

Erica: Always. Thank you Doug, Elliot and Damian and all of our listeners. Subscribe, like our show and get to that fascia. Just start noticing things. Notice your everyday movements. Notice those familiar patterns that you get stuck in and change it up for sure because you have to have this body your whole life. You might as well take really good care of it, right? So thank you all and we look forward to seeing y'all again next week.