By James Walker CCS, STM, BioSig, Master Trainer
What are adhesion's, scar tissue, or knots and how can they affect fascia, muscle, and nerve function? Lets start by explaining each of these terms. I'll begin with fascia, it's the thin layer of connective tissue that covers the muscles, tendons, vessels, and nerves. Itâ€™s like a latex glove or plastic wrap that fits around these tissues. In addition this fascia surrounds individual and whole groups of muscle fibers. If you have ever cut up a chicken you can see the thin almost translucent layer of tissue covering the muscle underneath of the skin, thatâ€™s fascia.
Next there are two types of muscle tissue, skeletal and smooth. Skeletal muscle is the elastic tissue that crosses over a joint and attaches to the bone to form a lever that produces movement, force, and locomotion. For example the biceps muscle in the upper arm attaches to the inside of the shoulder blade (scapular bone) and on the outside of the elbow at the forearm (radius bone) and contributes to elbow flexion or â€œmaking a muscleâ€. Since it attaches to bone it only makes sense that itâ€™s called skeletal muscle. Also because we can start, stop, and control the movement willingly itâ€™s action is considered voluntary.
The second type of muscle tissue is called cardiac or smooth. Itâ€™s responsible for the heartbeat or cardiac contraction, but in the stomach and intestines enables food and waste to be moved through the digestive tract. This type of muscle action occurs without our conscience effort and happens automatically, so itâ€™s considered involuntary.
Nerves are fibers or cords that transmit electrical signals to various parts of the body i.e., brain, eyes, fascia, heart, lungs, muscles, organs, spinal cord, etc. Itâ€™s like an extremely complex highway or fiber optic system or matrix thatâ€™s alive and works 24/7 to keep us alive and functioning. The signals can originate from the brain or central nervous system or other sensory receptors.
Now adhesions, knots, and scar-tissue (AKS) are caused by the excessive formation of fibrin, a protein that helps form blood clots and repairs muscle, lung, and other tissue as a result of stress or trauma. The normal formation of fibrin contributes to and aids these natural processes but problems arise when excessive amounts are produced to form AKS. A thickening of the tissue will start to occur which initially is designed to strengthen and protect the area but too much will interfere with the normal function of the fascia, muscles, and nerves.
A visual analogy is like using glue to repair a broken vase but you continue to use the glue long after the vase has been fixed. Eventually you have a distorted vase that not only looks bad but doesnâ€™t function as well either.
Okay, now Iâ€™m sure everyone has had enough of the biology session but unfortunately training and rehab comes down to science and math. So whatâ€™s the big deal about AKS? In part II we will discuss AKS in more detail and ways to lessen itâ€™s affect.