Yoga Perspectives from the 2012 Third International Fascia Congress in Vancouver – Day 1

Yoga therapist and Heller worker Anita Boser has kindly agreed to be YogaUOline’s emissary at the 2012 Third International Fascia Congress in Vancouver, B.C. Here is her first report with highlights on ground-breaking new research into fascia and the interconnectivity of the human body.

The conference is completely sold out, 800 attendees from 37 countries and 6 continents.  We only want to know: where are the scientists from Antarctica?

My mind is trying to absorb all the wonderful information presented throughout the day. We had four keynote speakers, a panel discussion on Scars and Adhesions, and a choice of three parallel sessions. Several of the speakers highlighted similar findings.  Here are some key highlights:

Fascial Fitness: Low Force Exercise Beats High Force

When it comes to fascial fitness, low Force exercise has more beneficial effects and is less damaging to tissues than high force exercise.  This is even true in repetitive motion; the body seems to be able to adapt to low force.  Regardless of the level of activity, collagen synthesis is about two times the level of the resting rate.  Concentric, eccentric, and isometric contractions all increase the cross links between fibers.  Therefore, it seems that healthy tissues depend on being active regularly more than the type of activity. 

For yoga practitioners, the implications of this is that the type of yoga practice isn’t as important.  It’s doing he fact it regularly that produces the positive effects.

Another topic that came up here that I remember from the 2011 SYTAR yoga therapy conference was the discussion of motor maps, which is how the homunculus maps the body.  Dr. Mary Barbe found that with high repetition, high force exercise, the receptive fields grew in the brain so that the individual fingers weren’t “seen,” but the brain viewed the hand as more of a mitt.  Also, high repetition, high force exercise causes the fibroblasts to exude connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), which thickens the fascial matrix.  Again, there is the case for regulating the repetition and force of activity, being conscious of and staying within tolerable limits.

Dr. Barbe also found that when injury begins, there is a window of opportunity where it can be treated with anti-inflammatories.  Since the inflammatory process is temporary and eventually leads into degenerative changes if the activity is not suspended, the FIRST incidence of pain is where treatment can be effective.  If passed, it is a missed moment and injury will be more profound.  Again, we see the need for conscious movement.

Interestingly, mechanical loading has a greater effect on changes in connective tissue than does growth hormones and other chemical factors.  The loading affects all parts of the cell, into the nucleus, even to the point of which genes get expressed.  For example, rats that over-exercise start to express damaging genes, but when they rest their gene expression returns to normal.  

Adhesions and Scar Tissue After Gynecologcal Surgery

There was also a huge discussion of adhesions, especially after surgery.  Studies have found a huge incidence of adhesions after gynecological surgery, from 55% to 100%, depending on the type of surgery.  The average incidence is 70%!  The adhesions begin three to five days after the surgery and Dr. Diamond postulated that it is due to oxygen deprivation.

That just brings me back to the basics of breathing, how important it is for every aspect of physiology.  Even with all the chemicals, cytokines, tendinomes, CTGF, genes and everything there is to know, stopping to breathe deeply is good medicine.  I had to remember that several times today.

My brain feels like it is changing shape to allow the transformation of new connections.  It reminds me of the video shown this afternoon by Dr. Guimberteau, Skin, Scars &Stiffness.  Like in his first video of fascia, Strolling Under the Skin, which is now available on YouTube, the slender fibrils glisten and rearrange according to the tension placed on connective tissue.  

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