Anneke Louise (MSc, C-IAYT)
Fascia and our Emotions
Updated: May 19, 2022
The body’s fascial system supports our ability to FEEL our inner environment!
What??? Yes, isn’t that incredibly fascinating? This body wide connective tissue doesn’t only pick up sensory inputs from outside of the body, but also relays information about our inner environment to the brain.
So could we say that the more healthy our fascia is, the more we are able to feel, the more we are able to be truly embodied and present with what is arising? Actually, yes!
Before we elaborate on this, let’s take a step back and understand these ‘sensory inputs’ as being part of the nervous system.
The nervous system is the most complicated and highly organized part of the human body. Simplified, it has three basic processes:
Reception of a (sensory) input – the nerve endings pick up things like outside pressure, taste, increase/decrease in hormonal levels; basically all internal and external inputs
Integration of the input into the Central Nervous System (CNS)
Response (motor output) - a output signal which is transmitted through the nerves into some form of action, such as movement, changes in heart rate, release of hormones, etc.
Let’s zoom more into the receptors/sensory input side of the nervous system.
In our previous blog on fascia we already saw how the nerve endings containing these input sensors (officially called ‘mechanoreceptors’) not only exist in the deeper skin layers, muscles and joints, but are also present in all fascial tissue. This discovery made scientists see fascia as being the largest sense organ in the body.
Following this, and even more interesting is that the fascia or ‘fibrous body’ as science likes to call it, was found by scientists to host way more of these mechanoreceptors than the actual muscles themselves. This strongly underlines the theory of the fascia being the largest sense organ in the body.
One of the main functions of this sense organ, is giving information to the central nervous system about movement, strain, balance; supporting the body in space perception and helping us to move smartly. This is called proprioception. So in a way we can say that it is translating our ‘outer environment’ and helping our nervous system to adjust and adapt the body where needed.
Now comes the truly fascinating part: how the fascia supports our ability to feel our inner environment!?
For this we need to understand that there are 4 types of mechanoreceptors (Ruffini, Pacinian, Golgi and Interstitial receptors). Without needing to memorise any of those names, the one that we want to highlight here is the last one: the interstitial receptors or also called ‘free nerve endings’.
chanoreceptors relay information to support our proprioception, the last category has in a way the freedom to choose its role: They do not just act as (‘outside’) proprioceptors but can also act as (‘inside’) interoceptors, supporting our ability to FEEL our inner environment (= INTEROCEPTION).
These free nerve endings are known to relay feelings such as: coldness, warmth, sore muscles, tingling, itching, heartbeat, bladder/stomach distension, hunger, thirst etc. And are hence strongly associated to our emotions and emotional state!
Science furthermore shows us that high interoception leads to
a lower tendency to objectify one’s own body – to consider
the body as a mere object and disregard its signals. And hence
it is intimately connected to our ability to self-regulate, to have ‘agency’ over our body and systems.
So you can imagine that if for any reason our fascial network is stuck or not in good shape, it will not just affect our ability to move smartly, but also affect our ability to FEEL SMARTLY!
You can find more information and tips on how to support healthy fascia here
How the state of the fascia and the emotions exactly interact with one another, scientists do not know YET, but there are some exciting directions in which they are looking:
“Myofascial techniques are able to act on psychological and emotional parameters. A disorder involving the myofascial system will also have repercussions on the emotional state. There is a strong relationship between the myofascial structure and the emotions.” – University of Ulm
This being a subject that personally enthralls me, stay tuned for more as my research and as science progresses. If you have come across any good studies around this topic that could add value here, please feel super free to add them in the comments or send us a message.