Fascial Plasticity – A New Neurobiological Explanation

Robert Schleip


Part 1: In myofascial manipulation an immediate tissue release is often felt under the working hand. This amazing feature has traditionally been attributed to mechanical properties of the connective tissue. Yet studies have shown that either much stronger forces or longer durations would be required for a permanent viscoelastic deformation of fascia. Fascia nevertheless is densely innervated by mechanoreceptors which are responsive to manual pressure. Stimulation of these sensory receptors has been shown to lead to a lowering of sympathetic tonus as well as a change in local tissue viscosity. Fascia and the autonomic nervous system appear to be intimately connected.

Part 2:: Stimulation of fascial mechanoreceptors can trigger viscosity changes in the ground substance. The discovery and implications of the existence of fascial smooth muscle cells are of special interest in relation to fibromyalgia, amongst other conditions. An attitudinal shift is suggested, from a mechanical body concept towards a cybernetic model, in which the practitioner’s intervention are seen as stimulation for self regulatory processes within the client’s organism. Practical implications of this approach in myofascial manipulation will be explored.

This article series has been published in Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (Part 1 in Vol.7, No.1, January 2003, and Part 2 in Vol.7, No.2, April 2003)

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French translation of this article (Seems to be of good quality. However no guarrantee for correctness of this translation)