This episode is part of a course.
Integral Anatomy Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 1

Fascia and Healthy Movement

15 min - Talk


Gil begins by introducing us to the role that fascia plays in healthy movement. We look at three elements of the fascial system—hypodermis (superficial), filmy, and deep (dense) fascia.

This video was filmed and produced by Gil Hedley. It includes videos and photos of dissections of cadavers (embalmed human donors). You can visit his website for more information about his workshops.

What You'll Need: No props needed

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Feb 19, 2021
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I think you can, can you hear me? If no one else is talking, can you hear me? Yes! There we go, maybe that was the, that's it. If you don't talk, and I do, you'll hear me, that's awesome. Apologies, Jasper, thank you. I just wanted to give a warm Vancouver welcome to Gil, and for Gil's miracle. So how do you call a doctor from Fitness Center Therapeutics? When I heard that Gil was coming back, I was so excited.

The last time I saw Gil was 12 years ago, before I had my third and fourth baby. Before I was direct. And it was a Saskatoon, and joined in with the naturopath doctors. Do we have any naturopath doctors here? Oh, wow. We've got a lot of massage therapists in here. And I'd like to come out here that there's acupuncturists in here, and there's an ET.

Perpetual trainers in here. And lots of people that are interested in the human body. So when I first met Gil, we sat together and had dinner, because all of us, I have a couple of colleagues that are here that we were all together. And I said, so Gil, what are you? And he said, well, what education? I'm a theological ethics guy.

I was like, what? And then he went on to tell me this amazing story that when he was a kid, he used to like to collect real Gil and bring it home. Do you remember this? And you're like, my mom could let me examine them. And I was like, your mom's so cool. So cool. But I don't want to give you too much time. I just wanted to welcome everybody here.

I wanted to welcome Will, and I hope you guys did enjoy it. Thank you. Deeply appreciative of your warm welcome. Thank you. This is maybe a memorial. I'm constantly finding ways to show my respect for the donor gifts of which I'm the beneficiary. And for coming here today, I entrust and charge you also with the responsibility of being donor gift recipients, right?

Because you're going to learn from these forms, fulfilling the wishes of the donors and their families that these bodies be put to good use. It tends to be an extraordinary good use. So thank you. And in that spirit, I'll ask you knowing that there's tons of good stuff online on my website that you could look at all day long. You'll refrain from any images of the stream. I'm happy to take pictures with you over there.

That having been said, there's going to be a lot of word slides. So I'm just going to give that to you in a PDF. OK, so you don't have to write down all the words that I put up there, right? I am floating. I'm floating freely, weightless. I am fluid in fluid. I am the union of two and the union of all and also something new. I am one swirling in an ocean of pleasure.

I have always been and I am always becoming. I am extending myself into the thick of it. I am dividing but not conquered. I enjoy movement and have no brain. I stream and flow, yet have no heart.

I behold the very soul of my mother, yet I have no eyes. I am life coming into form. Breathing in, I am born without knowing how or needing to know how. Breathing out, I let go. I die. I yield to the tide and the next in rushing wave of life freely given.

I am embodied. I've come to play, to learn, to expand, to love, to serve. I've come to do so here and now in this place with these people. I am forming the habits of my mind. I am awake in my choices. I claim my power as a shaper of mind stuff to experience the whole through this one fluid form.

The role of fascia in healthy movement. I may harp on that for four hours. I am a little obsessed for several years now with a problem, like a puzzle. The puzzle being, how do you have one thing, one sort of continuous thing, a body, from one cell? How do you have such a thing and simultaneously have differential movement?

The midget solves this problem, but not with the tree. The tree sways, it moves, it moves in the breeze, but the bark doesn't slide on the trunk, does it? It doesn't have differential movement. The little girl, she can skip her around the bottom of the trunk, she has differential movement. This is a good trick.

If you really think about it, it's a pretty impressive trick. What's the anatomy of that? What does that look like on the inside? How might knowledge of that help us in our practices, in our service, in our own embodiment? Total connection and differential movement, how?

I'll say nature's solutions, the fascial system and fluids. This is not an exhaustive list of nature's solutions. Add to this pile. These are just, I'm just offering you what I've observed from my studies in the laboratory, not what I've observed from reading articles and books, which I kind of tailed off on about 12 years ago, when I embraced this particular text as the focus of my attention in a way that I can't, I don't check out other books, I just keep reading this one over and over again. And each of the textures I find here is a chapter of that text that I keep reading over and over again.

Now, there might be other ways to solve these problems, but this is where my observations are coming from. Now, fascia, simple word, Latin bandage. If you go into your bathroom and check the medical kit or in your glove compartment, you'll find that there are lots of different kinds of bandages. Well, lots of different kinds of fascia. So, by analogy, also the Latin poets, when they saw that white gauze in the sky, referenced it also as a fascia.

So, I'm going to focus on three elements of the fascia system to tell this story about healthy movement. I'm going to list them for you here, but not without warning you that we're going into the laboratory. Do you see the sacred feminine here? This is a door, a door in a cathedral in England. I couldn't help but notice the beauty of the female represented here.

You can try and hold her down, but she'll squeak it out into the architecture, so there's no getaway from her, God bless her. Even the beautiful form of Mary, her head there with a cowl. I find this remarkable. Anyway, if you want to know where you've come from, go back in the same way. It's a sacred pathway.

The entrance into the divine, the temple of the spirit, our bodies, the lab and our bodies, both sacred places. So, superficial fascia, also known as hypodermis, hypo under dermis, dermis skin, or subcutaneous adipose, the fatty layer underneath your skin. Gray saw fit to call the whole fatty layer superficial fascia. You'll find some European anatomists and traditions will reference only the membranes within the fatty layer as the superficial fascia. I follow Gray's tradition, we can hold more than two ideas in our heads, right?

So, I dissected my kitchen, I bet you do too. If I were to differentiate the skin from the superficial fascia, I'd have to do it with a knife. There's actually no differential movement between the skin and the superficial fascia. They're rooted into one another in a fibrous continuity that can only be divided artificially with a knife. If I do render the superficial fascia independent and in a cross section, it looks something like that or like this.

So, superficial fascia in a cross section, a fatty layer can have dimensions, you know, large or small depending on where you are in the body. You can see it's both lobular, it's lobular, and also there's this webbing in there, there's structure, there's a connective tissue matrix that's structuring the tissue and giving it its dimension. We're just going to list them for now. So, number two is filmy fascia. Filmy fascia, folks, this one is the fuzz, okay?

Fuzz was like a reaction word. I got into a lab the first time, I started pulling stuff apart and I was like, there's fuzz in there, okay? But after about ten years, I started filming fascia. If you listen to my DVDs, you'll hear I keep talking about the films, the films, okay? So, filming fascia, the multi-layered membranous connective tissue.

Now, a real general anatomist would call this loose aerial connective tissue. We would use the same phraseology for the superficial fascia, loose aerial connective tissue. But I'm going to show you that these tissues are really aren't so loose, aren't so aerial, and I'm going to cut them up for you in a way that demonstrates them as a fascia. This one would be, okay, so if the superficial fascia was the gauze in your medikit, the filmy fascia is going to be the meditate, more thin and flat. You see that the fiber organization here is not hiddly-piddly in dimension, but rather it's felted.

It's thin and felted. You know felted, you take some wet wool and you go, smooch, smooch, smooch, and if you like a wooled arse will you make a jacket for a gnome? The filmy fascia is also kind of transparent, so thin, felted, transparent, and it's, frankly, it's kind of slippery. Okay, got it? Thin, felted, transparent, slippery. Thin, felted, transparent, slippery. It's not the fatty layer, it's not the deep fascia, it's something else. Got it? We're going to come back to it.

Finally, the deep fascia. This is the poster child of fascia. This is the one that, this is the star, this is the one the researchers hang out with and jump up and down on and call a fascia. Dense, regular, fibrous fascia. It's cool stuff. Maybe in a medikit, that would be, say, a band-aid, or maybe even strapping tape. Now, you see this strapping tape with its thick, white lines organized in a row. It's a very clear, precise kind of organization, not felted, not like that.

So, maybe the fascia lata appear on the thigh, top of the thigh, deep fascia. Can you see the similarity? Right? Do you see how long and straight and thick and the white collagenous band-aids are and how they're sequenced, you know, in a very orderly row. So, that's what we call dense, regular, fibrous fascia, fascial performance of the deep fascia. Now, around the body, all these tissues take on different characteristics that are not absolutely consistent in their presentation from one area of the body to another. So, maybe those strings double up. Maybe they triple up.

Maybe they triple up at right angles to each other. That would be interesting and would look something like that. So, this is the IT band from the deep side, three layers of collagenous fibers, tightly organized in rows at 90-degree angles to each other, stacked to create this kind of a fabric, quite sturdy. Here, on an unfixed form, meaning preserved only by refrigeration, we see on the forearm also deep fascia, but you see how the fibers are thinner. They're more loosely spaced and there's only two layers of them. So, you can play with that in your mind, different combinations, the same way you can take flour and sugar and eggs and milk and butter and make a hundred different things.

Similarly, you can take these kind of patternings and create all the different types of deep fascia applied around your body. Of course, in Florida, I have squirrels in my palm trees and they're chewing the deep fascia off of the trees and it rains down in my front yard and they make their nests out of it. Nature loves to repeat her patterns. So, by their textures, you shall love them, folks. Spongy, slippery, strappy. Got it?

Spongy, slippery, strappy. Hypodermis, superficial fascia, spongy one. If you were to just touch a forearm here, very gently, very light, eyeball pressure, barely touching, and just press in a little bit, it'll bounce back to you. There's a little spring there. That's the fatty layer. That's the hypodermis, the superficial fascia. But if you have a tacky contact with the skin and go back and forth, you see there's a slippery layer there as well. That's deep to the fatty layer.

Now press, that's the filming fascia. Now press through that and you'll feel the density of the muscle wrappings that are the deep fascia. Can you feel those three different textures that are present to you right here, everywhere, all over the surface of your body and your neighbors, if you want to give us a squeeze. Permission, permission.


Moira C
Humor and ease with a very interesting passion, fascia!

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