Fasciae Protectors of your Vital Organs

After an ovum is fertilized it differentiates into three main systems, the ectoderm, endoderm and mesoderm. Fasciae are derived from the mesenchyme, which is a subdivision of the mesoderm.

Nuclei in the mesenchymal substance give rise to bones, ligaments, muscles and tendons. Then a more structureless system of casings, sheaths and tissue takes shape around the various centers which have been developed.

The fascia is a sheath and its function is that of support, protection, mechanical advantage, some degree of contractility and lengthening, and energizing the organs and muscles to let Chi energy flow through easily. The fascia is a type of connective tissue which is avascular (or without blood vessels), translucent and tough. It is intimately involved with muscles, encasing them and enhancing their duties by various means, which include separating them into distinct bundles, providing bonds of especially tough fibers to offer support for purposes of leverage, and allowing for lubrication by means of fluids released from the tissues of an organ or part so that these enclosed muscle groups can slide over each other.

Fasciae are present throughout the body, separating, connecting, wrapping and supporting various parts of it, and finally on a superficial level, encasing the whole body in a shimmering sheath just beneath the level of the skin.

These superficial fasciae are very resilient, due to the fact that the fibers run in a criss-cross pattern. Damage by trauma alters them, making them denser and shorter, a characteristic of scar tissue.

Since this network is present throughout the body, it might explain the mechanism of trigger points, whereby the malfunction of internal organs is evidenced as pain in small areas often quite remote from the organ involved.

This might also explain another mechanism, the one found in reflexology. Certain areas of the feet might at varying times be painful, coinciding with organs in the body.

There is another little-recognized function of fasciae: that of providing muscle tone. In fact, low blood pressure is associated with a hypotonus condition of fasciae and hypertension with a hypertoned fasciae. (This means that a condition of the fasciae exists in which a high or low pressure causes too much or a limited diffusion of solutions throughout the fasciae.) There are several types of fasciae, all built of collagen. The most widely distributed is the loose connective tissue, which is the most flexible and most elastic of all, its fibers going in all directions. It consists of protein imbedded in a liquid ground substance and is very important to water metabolism and to other fluid exchanges. Tough, fibrous tissue can be found in areas where more tensile strength is required. Here the tissue is tough and unyielding, resulting from the parallel arrangement of bundles of fibers which are also found in tendons and ligaments. Huge fascial sheets found in the body are comprised of such tissue. All variations in fasciae, however, stem from the mesoderm.

The fasciae, though avascular themselves, furnish support for blood vessels, nerve fibers and vessels of the lymphatic system and contain the nerves which convey fluid into the veins and sensory receptors which are responsive to internal stimuli from the muscles, joints and tendons. The fasciae are also responsible for maintaining the relative positions of the various organs and muscles in the body.

a. The Superficial or Subcutaneous Layer: The superficial layer (the layer beneath the skin) is composed of two subdivisions: (1) a layer which can contain a tremendous amount of fat in those who are overweight; and (2) the more internal area of the subcutaneous fasciae. This is the most elastic of the various fasciae, since it has to accommodate varying amounts of fat storage, swelling when there is inflammation and muscular activity and distension when the muscles are worked. In this layer we are able to store Chi energy. As this layer of the body fills up with Chi, it is unavailable for storage of fat by the body. By practicing Iron Shirt packing, you can burn out the fat already existing in this layer.

Subcutaneous Layer Fascial Layer

(3) Third Layer-Posterior Fascia c. Peritoneum

Fig. 5.2 Fasciae exist in Three Layers.

a. Subcutaneous Tissue b. The Deep Layer

(1) First Layer-Anterior Fascia


(2) Second Layer Fascia

(3) Third Layer-Posterior Fascia c. Peritoneum

Fig. 5.2 Fasciae exist in Three Layers.

b. The Deep Layer: The deep fasciae, which are denser and have a smooth surface, allow for a reduction in friction as one surface slides over another. The deep fasciae produce bundles of fibers in parallel arrangement, giving great tensile strength. This sort of tissue is formed around the ankles, knees, wrists and elbows where it acts as an anchor against which muscles can pull. Fasciae also act in the capacity of a nutritional storehouse, as a source of insulation and support by means of fatty content, and as a barrier to impede the entrance of foreign organisms and objects.

The deep fasciae keep muscles in their distinct shapes and positions. These fasciae, which are the densest and have the greatest tensile strength, are made up of three types. The first and outermost is the external surrounding layer. These cover large muscle groups. The intermediate membranes separate individual muscles and, finally, the internal surrounding layer covers the external surfaces of the body cavities.

c. The Subserous Layer or Peritoneum: Internal to the intermediate membrane lie the subserous fasciae, or fascial layer beneath the membranes of the body which line all of the large cavities of the body. There are two types: (1) the parietal (or cavity wall) fasciae which cover the inner surfaces of the body cavities such as the thorax or abdomen; and (2) the visceral (or internal organ) fasciae which cover the organs in those cavities such as the lungs or liver. Again the main functions are protective and supportive, as well as a means of lubrication. During irritation these serousal surfaces sometimes adhere to one another, causing great pain.

2. Iron Shirt is Concerned with the Fasciae of the Whole Body

Iron Shirt is concerned with the fasciae of the entire body; that is to say it primarily involves the subcutaneous layer (beneath the skin) which covers the whole body. Iron Shirt is specifically concerned with the fasciae in the lumbar region, which are thicker and more fatty than ordinarily encountered. These two divisions of fasciae are joined by spindle connections, which are columnar shaped fibers between which the fat is deposited.

The lumbar fasciae are composed of three layers. The most super ficial one extends out from the middle, from the spines of the lumbar verterbrae (situated near the lower rib and hip bone) and the spine of the sacrum (the bone formed by the union of five vertebrae between the lumbar and caudal, or tail) region, constituting the back part of the pelvis and sacrospinalis ligament (a muscle which extends vertically along the length of the vertebrae in that area) and also out to the sides to the intermediate layer. The intermediate layer extends from the middle of the area of the lumbar and out to the sides, where it joins with the superficial layer. These two layers envelop the muscles which hold a person erect.

The fasciae also extend upward to the lower portion of the twelfth rib and, at its lower extremity are attached to the iliac crest (the large upper part of the pelvis) and the iliolumbar ligament, both in the small intestine area. The deepest layer envelops the quadratus lumbarum (a muscle which extends out from the area of the lumbar to join the other two layers at the sides, as previously described.) The three layers together comprise what is technically known as the "Origin of the Transverse Abdominis Aponeurosis".

The deep fasciae of the upper back are made up primarily of thoracic fasciae, which are thin coverings of the extensor muscles of the thoracic spine (vertebrae between the neck and abdomen, enclosed by ribs). Its lower border joins with the most superficial part of the tri-layer of the deep lumbar fasciae, while its upper portion combines with the cervical and trapezius fasciae. Attaching along a mid-line composed of the spines of the thoracic vertebrae, the deep fasciae of the upper back extend out to the sides following the rib angles and the fasciae of the muscles between the ribs.

The deep fasciae that enclose the rhomboids (two muscles that attach to each shoulder blade) and muscles of the posterior (or back) are considered to be separate from the thoracic fasciae, though there is no actual separation between the two.

Out to either side the axillary fasciae (covering the armpit) are to be found, serving as a protective layer over the axillae which are practically devoid of muscular tissue. They also partially enclose the back and side muscles, blend in with the thoracic fasciae, and are connected to the fasciae beneath the spine. In turn, the deltoid fasciae (covering the triangular muscle of the shoulder and upper arm), at about the level of the fourth thoracic vertebra and the mid-scapular (mid-shoulder blade) line, connects with the fasciae beneath the spine and is anchored to the spine and acromion process (the shoulder blades' projections which form the points of each shoulder).

All of the various layers just mentioned combine to form the continous fascial network of the back.

The deltoid fasciae extend out from the spine at the scapulae to the clavicle (or collar bone). There they merge with the pectoral fasciae (covering the breast). The deltoid fasciae also extend laterally from the shoulder into the arm where they become known as the brachial fasciae. These brachial fasciae join with the pectoral and axillary fasciae and are attached to the epicondyles of the humeri (covering the large rounded prominences associated with the shoulder joints) on the upper end of each humerus (bone of the upper arm) as well as the olecranon of each ulna (or the curved part of the ulna bone at the point of the elbow). (The ulna bone is one of two bones in the forearm and is on the same side as the pinky finger. The other forearm bone is called the radius.) The brachial fasciae are thin where they cover the biceps and thicker over the triceps.

The interbrachial fasciae join as one with the brachial fasciae and extend from the epicondyles of the humeri to the remotest ends of the radius and ulna bones.

The pectoral fasciae are thin sheaths connected to the clavicle and sternum (or breastbone) and extend to the deltoid, brachial and axillary fasciae and also the outer surrounding layer of the abdominal fascia. They also attach to the diaphragm. Beneath the pectoral fasciae lie the pectoralis major muscles. Beneath those are fascial sheaths called the clavipectoral fasciae that enclose the pectoralis minor muscles. This is found between the pectoralis minor and the thoracic body wall.

These fasciae, attached to the clavicle and enveloping the artery running beneath the clavicle, extend to the first rib, the coracoid process of the scapula (the bone that unites with the scapula to form the cavity through which the arteries of the scapula and temporal bones run) and the axillary fasciae.

The ribs comprise the foundation of the thoracic body wall and are covered exteriorally by the external intercostal fasciae (or fasciae between the ribs). This sheath, extending in the direction of the head, joins the scalene fasciae (the fasciae covering the deep muscles attached to the cervical vertebrae and first and second ribs, acting to flex or bend the neck). Extending downwards towards the lower abdomen, this sheath joins with the fasciae that separate the external and internal oblique muscles of the abdomen.

The interior surfaces of the ribs are covered by the endothoracic fasciae (surrounding the muscles within the thorax). These extend toward the head, blending with the prevertebral fasciae (covering the vetebrae which are at the beginning or top of the spinal column), while in their extension to the lower abdomen they connect to the internal surrounding layer of the abdominal wall. The subcutaneous fasciae of the abdomen are soft and pliable, increasing in tensile strength as they extend out to the sides. The highly elastic deeper portion of the subcutaneous fasciae are attached to the linea alba and the inguinal (or groin) ligament. (Alba is a white substance carried by the central nervous system.) The outer investing layers of the deep abdominal fasciae unite with the fasciae of the back and the breast. In their extension downward they connect with the fasciae lata (the external fasciae of the thighs), symphysis pubis (the junction of the two bones which join with a third to form the arch on either side of the pelvis), and the aponeurosis (the white fibrous tissue which forms the attachment of the external abdominal oblique muscles).

The surrounding internal layer unites with the deepest portion of the thoraco-lumbar fasciae, the pelvic fasciae and the fasciae of the diaphragm and are commonly referred to as the transversalis fasciae. These cover the external surface of the abdominal cavity wall, the lumbar vertebra bodies and the psoas major muscle.

The various fascial layers which have been described are integral to the cultivation of Iron Shirt as the fasciae into which we pack Chi. As previously described, this Chi will then form a protective cushion in the body which is also a storage place from which Chi can be retrieved when required.

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