Integrated Myofascial Therapy (iMFT) has quite different effects and results from massage. While massage primarily cares for the skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, iMFT works with the body-wide fascial system, which automatically includes all these structures as fascia wraps, infiltrates and connects them.
Our fascial system supports our bodies, spreading force, stabilising, strengthening, balancing, and allowing glide between all our body structures. It is totally fascinating how this system sustains us.
Fascia is one dynamic 3D system without beginning and end, extending from the skin's surface to the cell's nucleus. Fascia is our primary connective tissue, our largest sensory organ, and an incredible communicator that interacts with all body parts.
Imagine a network of thin and lubricated fibres with a gel-like substance in between. Information is sent through the fascia network, which continuously adapts the fibres by reconnecting, moving, and gliding them, as well as thickening and thinning the gel. These actions are independent of the nervous system with every movement, pulsation, vibration, peristalsis, and pressure. Its purpose is to support movements, maintain posture, and protect from injury.
Its independence from the nervous system doesn't mean it's senseless. The fascial system has more sensory nerve endings than any other body part. It is sensitive and responsive to pressure, touch, temperature, and movement. The receptors deliver that information to the brain via the nervous system. Skilful, sensitive touch signals the brain that the body is safe, reducing cortisol secretion and increasing oxytocin levels, helping to down-regulate the body's stress response.
Factors like inflammation, lifestyle, malnutrition, toxins, stress, poor posture, overuse, underuse, and many others can cause the facial fibres (collagen and elastic) to stick together. This decreases cellular exchange and causes a build-up of toxins in the fascia.
If this 'load’ continues for a prolonged period, fascia adapts to its circumstances, basically trying to help you. When one body part adapts, others may too, as tight fascia may create a 'pull'. 'Overloading' the body for too long, there may be a point where this fascial support becomes dysfunctional, and symptoms like reduced mobility, pain, fatigue, stress, anxiety, or disease may present themself.
Surprisingly, the fascial system's remarkable ability to sense, communicate, connect, and transform has been overlooked for a long time. To improve movement and health, working with the fascial system is essential.
Understanding that any restriction can impact other systems and body parts and vice versa is the essence of MFT. This is why MFT is a body-wide approach, and we have a toolbox full of techniques that can be applied to any restricted body area.
By understanding the fascial system better, one may appreciate how Myofascial therapy can help improve dysfunction, restore equilibrium, and enhance health.