Fascia is the most important part of your body that you probably have never heard of, or at least you haven't heard very much about it.
In the past few years, as medical science has taken a closer look at part of the body that doctors typically ignored for centuries, a picture is beginning to emerge.
Fascia is a web of connective tissue that is made of collagen, elastin, and other tissues and cells that lies under the skin and runs from our heads to our feet. It forms a continuous network that covers and connects organs, muscles, even nerves.
Fascia allows us to move as a single unit -- a crucial aspect of tai chi, xingyi and bagua.
It turns out that tai chi and bagua in particular are outstanding activities for stretching the fascia and keeping it healthy.
During the past year, I have read some things by internal arts and qigong teachers that make it sound as if they knew about fascia all along. Well, they didn't. So I searched for someone at a level of medical education above a physical therapist, massage therapist or TCM provider -- someone who could tell me about fascia from a medical perspective.
Dr. Ginevra Liptan of Portland, Oregon.
After months of searching, I found Dr. Ginevra Liptan, a medical doctor who is board certified in internal medicine and also practices a holistic approach to health that combines Western medical science with "alternative" therapies. She founded the Frida Center for Fibromyalgia, and as she has battled fibromyalgia herself, and researched treatments for her patients that involve the fascia, she has become well-versed on the topic.
Dr. Liptan is my guest in the final Internal Fighting Arts podcast for 2017. You can listen online or download the file here:
During the interview, she talks about a video called "Strolling Under the Skin." Here is a link for that video:
Also, at the end of the interview, we talk briefly about "cupping," as it was done in the last Olympic games (remember Michael Phelps and his big red dots?). Here is a link to a presentation on fascia -- if you go to exactly one hour in, the discussion of cupping and fascia begins.
The research I have done for this interview, and the interview itself, has made me look at parts of my practices and workouts in a new way, especially certain movements and moving qigong exercises, and how effective they are for maintaining healthy fascia.
Tai chi has shown to be effective in maintaining flexibility, balance, coordination, among other benefits. It turns out that fascia and tai chi work together in excellent ways.