Portland, Oregon's Cancer Survivorship and Bodywork Zine by Compassion Arts PDX, LLC
Bodywork is a form of kinesthetic communication. We speak to the nervous system, we speak to emotion, we speak to memory, always in open, two-way dialogue. The work is equal parts listening and assertion, finding the ebb and flow in the fascial recoil held in it’s inherent plasticity.
There is a communication with the tensegrity architecture of our myofascial system through mindful engagement with the four types of fascial mechanoreceptors, each with their own language and means of sensory communication. Here is my summary of Robert Schleip’s current research on mechanoreceptors found in fascia, including info from the first section of his DVD, The Nature of Fascia.
Sometimes I get to work with professional models! The lovely Rebecca Palmer receiving a massage. Photography by Hamid Shibata Bennett
Allow myself to introduce myself…. the mechanoreceptors of fascia… Golgi Tendon Organs, Ruffini, Pacini and Interstitial!
The Golgi Tendon Organs are classified as Type I receptors. They’re common to the myotendinous junctions, ligaments, joint capsules and attachments of aponeurosis, flat, broad sheets of connective tissue.
To have yourself a chat with the Golgi Tendon Organs, one engages in slow, deep, present, longitudinal shearing at the myotendinous junctions. This is the steadfast patience of fascial melt found in structurally integrative techniques. Techniques, such as Rolfing, often use client-intitiated movement to enhance proprioceptive feedback. Find a depth and a pace in the tissue’s viscosity and follow with the breath. This has been observed to create a repeatable decrease in muscular tone.
Type II mechanoreceptors include the Pacini and Ruffini receptors.
The Pacini receptors are found in the myotendinous junctions, along with the Golgi Tendon Organs. They also hang in the deep capsular layers of joints, in the spinal ligaments and in investing muscular tissue, such as the most superficial layer of the deep cervical fascia. You can find that depth, eh?
The Pacini mechanoreceptors dig the rapid pressure changes of motion. They are stimulated by vibration and, according to Robert Schleip, get bored rather easily. They inform our sense of proprioception, tuning us into the kinesthetic feedback needed for range of motion, from subtle to complex movement. Chiropractic work directly target the Pacini corpuscles, as does any creative movement and vibration.
The Ruffini mechanoreceptors differ from the Golgi Tendon complex in their direction of engagement. Where the Golgi’s have a hankering for longitudinal shearing, the Ruffini endings perk up through sustained, transverse shearing, across the grain of muscular fiber direction. This has been found to reach the entire autonomic nervous system, no matter where on the body we engage. Heart rate, digestion, respiration rate… We can reach all of that with our bodywork.
The Ruffini receptors are located in the ligaments found in the peripheral joints, dura mater, the outer capsular layers and in tissues that we stretch when we’re melting our fascia in the morning. Those feels so good to move and be moved this way spots, that inhibit the sympathetic nervous system, our fight or flight response.
The Interstitial sisters. Type III and IV mechanoreceptors. The most abundant sensory receptor in the human body. More numerous than the sum of the sensory receptors in the eyes, nose, mouth, ears and skin, including all Type I and Type II fascial mechanoreceptors. Yeah, they’re kinda important!
The interstitial receptors are found just about everywhere, including inside our bones! The highest concentration of these are in the periosteum, on the outer surface of bones. They respond to rapid and sustained pressure changes. 10% are Type III, low threshold pressure units, covered in a thin myelin sheath. They respond to the lightest of feather touches. Type IV receptors are unmyelinated high threshold pressure units, making up the other 90%. Stimulating the Interstitials are known to create change in vasodilation and the autonomic functions, such as blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, salivation and perspiration. We’re still trying to understand the full impact of these receptors in the body. Some are pain receptors and others are also thought to inform the sensations of structural positioning and movement. Acupuncture is thought to engage these receptors, snagging them in the subtle twisting of the needle.
It’s time to expand our mechanosensing vocabulary with a pacing, patience and playfulness that engages the dance found in intentionally working with these receptors. I’ve been playing with these ideas for awhile now and have been seeing some fun changes in clients. And, I’m ready to share the work with our massage and bodywork community. If you’re interested in exploring more, contact me. There is so much to discover in our bodywork! Get your fascia on!
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I had the pups with me at the office yesterday. So, I cobbled a quick video using iMovie on the iPad 2. Here it is… Hamid’s Doggies at Earth Body.