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How we feel our bodies: Proprioception

Updated: May 28, 2020

This post may be a bit technical... but it is only to explain, once more, why if we want to improve movement control we must target the Fascial System.

First, we need to know that there is one very importance sense we all have: Proprioception. It tells us where our body is in space. It gives us our body awareness. We don't need to see where our body is in other for us to move. We just feel it, and we move. It happens below our conscious level. By feeling itself, our body is able to adjust and correct so we can have balance and motor coordination.

Carla Stecco is one of the most important names in Fascia Research.

Here is one wonderful presentation she gave in 2014: "Fascia research and proprioception: implications in sports". The video has many technical words and images from the body that you might not like... Don't worry, below some notes if you prefer not to watch it.

Notes from the video (in simpler words):

The fascia has specific proprioceptive innervation (free nerves endings and corpuscles). This means that in the fascia there are many receptors that bring information about the position of the body. These receptors are deeply connected to the fascia, so where the fascia is stretched, the receptors are activated. The innervation of the fascia is a sensitive innervation, autonomic innervation, and proprioceptive innervation.

The fascia perceives the contraction of the underlying muscles because it glides under it, but it is also connected to specific parts of the muscle. In those connecting points, the fascia is usually stronger. Every time the muscles contract, the fascia is stretched. Anatomically, we can not divide the muscular tissues from the fascial tissues, they are very linked together. According to Hujiing, 30% of the muscular action is happening in the fascia so "If we forget the fascia we cannot understand 30% of the action of the muscle".

The fascia has a specifically spatial organization. According to the movement that is happening, the fascia is organized in one manner or another. The relation between the fascia and the underlying muscles gives the anatomical support to myokinetic chains.

The fascia is able to transmit the tension from the muscle. Now we know that the fascia behaves differently depending on the strain it receives, and it adapts to the movement of the muscle, sometimes it gets tighter and limits muscle contraction.

It has been shown how by restoring the normal tension in the fascia, the proprioceptors embedded inside the retinacula perceive better the movement allowing improvements of the joint stability. Proper tension of the fascial system is needed to perceive adequate proprioception. A fascial dysfunction could lead to an alteration of the peripheral motor coordination and the proprioception related to the fascia.

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