Most of us can appreciate the fact that we move differently when we are in pain or even deconditioned from lack of exercise or movement. Our muscles and joints are meant to move in certain ways. Muscles are meant to shorten and lengthen in order to move joints. The joints then have several different ways that they are supposed to move for optimal performance. This allows us to be independent in all activities of living
Connective tissue is one of four classes of body tissue. Its job is to support, connect, or separate different types of organs or other tissues. For this discussion we will discuss the loose connective tissue that can be manipulated manually by a trained practitioner.
Now let’s consider that there are different layers of tissue. First the layer we can see, the skin. Then the connective tissue that literally connects the skin to the muscle and then the layers continue on top of and in between the muscle layers. In the abdomen and pelvis this tissue also connects the organs, bones, and muscles. When healthy, this connective tissue allows for spaces that the nerves, lymphatic vessels, blood vessels and arteries need to travel through to the various organs, muscles, etc… Visualize a spider web, perfect in its simplicity but also fragile to the elements.
However, when we move differently for a long period of time, or compensate due to pain or weakness, the muscles may not lengthen and shorten to their normal ranges. Joints will also follow and then this connective tissue will also change. If you break an ankle and wear a boot for 6 weeks you will notice how that will change the way that you walk. Chronic constipation can even create muscle guarding, or increased tension in the stomach and hip muscles, and shorten or thicken tissues. This tissue then becomes restricted or adhered and that creates or enhances the dysfunction of organs, nerves, muscles and joint. Examples of these type of dysfunctions can include a painful hip, pain with intercourse, constipation or urinary leakage. Thicker tissues and decreased mobility of these areas impedes blood flow and can also impair nerve flow. Cut these important highways off and this will mean less healthy tissues. Symptoms of these restricted tissues can mean pain in the area or referred pain, such as sciatic pain that can refer down the leg or into the pelvis felt as rectal pain. It can also create less pliability, or stretchiness, which in the case of the perineum muscle means pain with vaginal penetration. It could also create muscle weakness which could lead to urinary or bowel dysfunction.
A simple yet effective way to unwind or manipulate these adhesive tissue restrictions is a technique called connective tissue mobilization or manipulation. Otherwise known as “skin rolling” this technique can be incredibly effective in normalizing the blood, nerve, and lymphatic flow into and out of the restricted areas. Once the restrictions are freed up THEN normalization of posture and movement will be possible. Once this can be instituted into everyday life through learning new habits, retraining posture and movement, then quality of life and freedom of movement will equal independence in everyday activities