Have you ever flipped through the channels, and stopped dead at something? This woman was lecturing on my local PBS station, and what she was saying about fascia caught my attention so quickly, I nearly got whiplash.
Fascia is a web of connective tissue that runs throughout our body, and until very recently, we didn’t know a damn thing about it. I’ve had fascia on the brain lately, because I am coming to the conclusion that it has been the key to understanding chronic pain (OK, the smart people in my life have been telling me that, but I found them, so I get partial credit.) That is exactly what Miranda Esmonde-White was saying too: that people’s natural response to pain is to stop moving, which locks down our fascia, which perpetuates pain. She has books and DVDs on gentle easy movement which keeps our fascia hydrated and open, and reduces pain. Wow.
Now, I must disclaim, I have not vetted Miranda Esmonde-White’s entire program. A person with joint hypermobility has to be very careful about any new exercise program. We should never do full deep stretches for long periods, or hold any stretch for more than a few seconds.(“Pressure on, pressure off” as Jen at One. Physical Therapy, Fitness and Wellness says.) I am also not saying that people with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome will necessarily be able to live without any pain medication as Esmonde-White seems to claim: we have good days and bad days, and during flares, we may need the support of pain medication to keep our cortisone levels down and keep us from spiraling into worse stages, and that is perfectly OK. That said, I like what I heard so far, and I am eager to learn more about her ideas and her program.
For those of you who do not have hypermobile-savvy therapists on your dream team yet, this may be an accessible way for you to start responsible, gentle movement in your own home. Though resting is an important part of healing during a flare, people who suffer from chronic joint issues have a tough balancing act, and we often contribute to our own pain cycle by shutting down when we are in pain. I am having a very difficult time with my shoulder right now, because I had the “broken wing syndrome” by crooking my arm and holding it at my side for the year of pain leading up to my surgery. Guess whose fascia is a complete scarred, excruciating mess now? When people with connective tissue disease have old injuries and scar tissue, it’s important that we break it up safely, and with a product that it not too harsh, or it can injure our already fragile tissue. I use this, and I LOVE it:
The unfortunate reality is, most doctors were never taught about fascia in medical school. (Honestly, when I bring it up with my allopathic MDs, they get the deer-in-the-headlights look. Then, it being me, they get a nice little lecture, and advice about how they should research this subject.) It is my belief as a patient and ex healthcare professional that fascia is going to be the next big wave of medical breakthrough. Haven’t you noticed the number of people who wear kinesiology tape in public now? That targets fascia! At this point, there are no “fascia” doctors, unless an MD has made it their specialty on their own. However, I believe that someday there will be, and that when your children have acute or chronic muscle issues, they will be able to consult a Fascist!
Um…okay…the PR department is going to get back to us on that one…
To learn more about fascia, read this great article.
We are going to be talking a lot more about this in the future. In the meantime, let’s chat about fascia: did this post give you any revelations about your own body? Any questions?