Well, the title may be a tad bit misleading, as this organ has always been around, but it is just gaining the monumental notoriety it so rightfully deserves! In Physical Therapy school, we were taught all of the primary organ systems, and our main focus was always on the musculoskeletal system as well as the nervous system, but we were NEVER introduced to the interstitium. In all fairness, we were sort of introduced to it in cadaver lab when we were taught to just move it out of the way in order to get to the “more important” sections, or the muscles/nerves/bones.
The interstitum in physical therapy is often referred to as the fascial system that covers the entire body from head to toe. It is a complex system that is made up of extracellular fluid, collagen & elastin and one important factor to note is that IT DIVES DEEP! What this means is that it covers every “Muscle, nerve, artery, vein, and major internal organ” in our bodies. So, what is the big deal?
Prior to taking my first John F. Barnes Myofascial release course on the pelvis this past weekend, I admit I was sort of skeptical on all of the craze that I had heard coming from those shouting out the benefits of fascial release. To be honest, the entire platform of physical therapy is built on treating in the exact opposite manner. “No pain no gain, and PT standing for Physical Torture” were always embedded into my head from early on. So, a gentle approach that could make a lasting permanent change in our posture and structure seemed absurd to me. Also, I was taught, you have to “strengthen, strengthen, strengthen” in order for muscles to work like they should. So, yes, I was entering into a very foreign territory! Well, I’d like to apologize for all of my skepticism, because IT IS AMAZING!
A quick way to describe the fascia is that it’s like a knit sweater that covers the body and when there is a snag in that sweater, it can literally unravel and create an entirely different fit. When the fascia becomes pulled or tight in one area, it can literally create changes anywhere in the body! So, now when I see a person that has a diagnosis of low back pain, I am taking that into account, but I’m doing an entire postural assessment to see what is being pulled and what seems to be out of balance prior to treating. This is a very different concept as I used to be more individualized in my approach (meaning I had entirely different evaluations for each body part).
All of my schooling was not in vain, however. I do know that you have to have a remarkable foundation in anatomy and a deep understanding of the body’s musculoskeletal system to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together and I certainly will still use several treatment strategies I have used for years that I know can work wonders. Moreover, it is so very important for practitioners to continue learning and diving deep into the body, because there are many ways to treat that can yield results. I will not, however, be known as a physical therapist that induces pain to get results! My mind has been opened and I have already started to implement this newfound approach with amazing results. If you are interested in how myofascial release can help you, please reach out! You really don’t know how light and lifted you feel until you are back in complete balance.