The Structural Network
The structural network:
- Is composed of a structural matrix (extracellular matrix) that forms the basic component of all the connective tissues, forming a body-wide interconnected soft-tissue skeleton.
- Is often referred to as the fascial web or fascia system.
- It is a communicating network within the body sending mechanical, chemical and electrical signals throughout the body, via the ‘web’.
- Has a high number of sensory nerve endings which translates these signals to inform the brain about whats happening within the body.
- The structural matrix adapts it shape, strength and mobility based on function, but it also influences body function based on it’s structure.
The structural network consists of the connective tissues in the body which form a continuous, interconnected system maintaining the body’s form and function. Connective tissue had previously been thought of a just binding material holding the body together, however more and more research is emphasising the intricate complexities of connective tissues and how they work together as a system influencing the function and dysfunction of both the body and the mind.
The structural system is a tension based system, holding all the pieces of the body (the organs, blood vessels, nerves, cells, muscles etc) in place. Connective tissues are viscoelastic, which means they can stretch and adapt their shape to allow all the pieces within the body to move, slide and glide over each other as the body moves, but then return quickly back into their original place once the movement is complete. Thereby our connective tissues provide our structural identity ensuring we keep our shape so we always look like us no matter what movement we do. Ideally the system is well balanced. The tensions are distributed throughout the system, and all the parts can glide and slide with ease and spring back into place. Sometimes thats not the case and the connective tissues get stuck, they don’t glide and slide and the tension through out the entire system is compromised. We can still function, but not at an optimal level.
If you look at the spider web above, the strands in the web are generally well balanced such that when you pull on one aspect of the web, the forces will be distributed throughout the entire web, influencing every strand to a greater or lessor degree. The spider that sits on the web can feel the change in tension and knows when the web has been damaged, or if a bug has landed in the web. The web is sticky and will stick to itself if poorly designed, damaged or is unable to withstand the forces of nature. The web inside our bodies is very similar, however our structural web is floating in water to prevent the web from sticking to itself. But it too will stick to itself or surrounding structures if damaged, has poor design (poor postural alignment) or has to endure excessive forces. We also have little cells which can sense the vibrations and changes in tension of our structural web. Those cells help send the signals to our brains which instigates the repair process as well as climb through our structural web to repair it.
Sometimes however our structural web can look a bit like the spider web to the right. The fibres have stuck together, been repaired many times and becomes a tangled mess. This is often what scar tissue can look like inside our bodies. When you pull on one aspect of the spider web the tension cannot flow evenly through every strand of tissue. This spider web is stronger than the one above, but it is less mobile. The vibrations and tensional changes in the strands are more difficult to feel. The water that normally flows in and between our structural web cannot get through so it becomes poorly nourished, dry and brittle.
The spider builds a new web. We can’t. We turn to KMI structural integration instead.