What’s Behind Self Osteo-Myofascial Applications? Part 2

In Part 1 of the ‘What’s Behind Self Osteo-Myofascial Applications’, we discussed the applications themselves and how they influence the tissues of the body. In Part 2 we will dive into the the science and application behind the rationale for using Osteofascial Release™, Myofascial Release, and Fascial Mobilizers™ in the SOMA methodology. Here we look at the fascial network and it’s ability to sense its surroundings.


The Fascial Network

There are many vital roles that our fascial network plays. One often overlooked and highly important role is being the body’s primary proprioceptive organ. This means that the fascial network, which envelops and connects with, to, and from the entire human body has the most abundant supply of movement related receptors and arguably the ability to influence motion more than any other system in the body. That’s powerful!

As Sport, Fitness, and Health Practitioners, knowing this can be a huge advantage to our ability to transform our athletes’, clients’, or patients’ motion and lives by getting them MOVE better, FEEL better, LIVE better.

By appropriately engaging the fascial network, we can not only exert transformational influence for enhancing tissue and movement dynamics, but the mental and emotional state of a person. That’s Regenerative Health and that’s what SOMA is all about!


Fascial Mechanoreceptors

Practitioner and researcher, Robert Schleip, has noted that the fascia has four primary sensory nerve endings that are responsive to mechanical stimulation (Table 1). They can be thought of as fascial mechanoreceptors. They include:

  1. Golgi organs
  2. Ruffini receptors
  3. Pacini corpuscles
  4. Interstitial receptors


The fascial mechanoreceptors are responsive to mechanical tension and/or pressure and have been found in both intramuscular and extramuscular fascial tissues. The more superficial layers of fascia show a higher density of mechanoreceptors than the deeper layers with the Transitional Zone (Figure 1) between the superficial and deep fascia having the highest density of sensory innervation. The transitional zone also appears to be the area where large sliding and/or shearing motions between fascial layers takes place.



Figure 1. Transitional Zone


Table 1 provides a glimpse into the type, location, response, and result of stimulation for each of the fascial mechanoreceptors. SOMA was designed to address each of these with the four specific applications and the various techniques of each.

Functional Reconnecting™ predominantly addresses the Golgi receptors while the other three applications – Osteofascial Release™, Myofascial Release, and Fascial Mobilizers™ address the latter three receptors – Pacini, Ruffini, and Interstitial. These latter receptors, especially the Ruffini and Interstitial, will be the focus here.


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Schleip R 2003: Fascial plasticity – a new neurobiological explanation. J Bodywork Movement Therapies 7(1):11-19 and 7(2):104-116


Pacini receptors, beyond what is shown in Table 1, have also been shown to be quite abundant around the lateral knee capsule as well as the thoracolumbar fascia – areas with high density of boney or fascia dominant tissue. While these receptors have not been shown to have any predictable pattern for increasing or decreasing muscle tone, they do appear to trigger heightened local proprioceptive attention of the central nervous system to the stimulated fascial region.

The Ruffini and Interstitial receptors are likely the most affected and influential fascial mechanoreceptors within the SOMA methodology. Ruffini receptors favor slow sustained pressure, but are also responsive to more rapid pressure. Further, Ruffini receptors seem to particularly enjoy tangential or lateral “shifting” forces placed on the tissue.

Interstitial receptors are the most abundant receptors in the body and are capable of responding to both sustained and rapid pressure as well. These under-rated receptors are highly abundant in fascia as well as the periosteum, and have been shown to be responsive to stretching of the fascia and skin.


Practical Relevance

The collective significance and practical relevance of all this information is that there is:

  • Much more sensory innervation in the areas of tissue closer to the skin, which produce important feedback to the central and peripheral nervous systems as well as affecting the tissue dynamics
  • More motion occurs (should occur) between tissues just underneath the skin and adipose layer known as the Transitional Zone (Figure 1)

As the transitional zone is the region of highest sensory innervation and greatest tissue motion, it is probable that this is also the area that can have the greatest impact on tissue dynamics – either negatively or positively. If this region is restricted, it will likely alter tissue motion, force transmission, and movement of the body as a whole. When this area is engaged using a proper SOMA application, it can have a profound affect on enhancing tissue motion.

When performing Osteofascial Release™ and/or Myofascial Release applications, the tool (i.e. foam roll) is directly engaging the skin and easily able to influence the transitional zone. As the tool is maneuvered on the skin (‘rolling‘) and/or the skin maneuvered on the tool (‘shifting‘), the underlying superficial and deeper fascial tissues are affected.

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During Fascial Mobilizers™, the body positions and interconnected movement of the limbs, joints, and associated tissues are also able to significantly impact the underlying tissues and transitional zone as well.

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Pacini receptors are more favorably targeted with quicker paced “rolling” techniques when using Osteofascial Release™ and Myofascial Release. “Shifting” techniques that are a bit more variable (rapid) may also produce a favorable stimulus for the Pacini receptors. The constant rhythmical movement used in Fascial Mobilizers™ is also likely to engage the Pacini receptors as well.

Ruffini and Interstitial receptors are best targeted with slower rolling and shifting techniques as well as sustained compression. All SOMA applications work well with these receptors as they are the most abundant in the body, but Osteofascial Release™ may have an especially influential impact due to the high prevalence of Interstitial receptors in the periosteum.

Osteofascial Release™ developed by SOMA Co-Founders, Ian O’Dwyer and Rodney Corn, is the newest foam roll application to date. It has been practically shown to have a profound impact on tissue motion the movement dynamics of an individual. For specific training and application techniques using Osteofascial Release™ and Fascial Mobilizers™ join us at the SOMA Immersion 1 LIVE workshop.

For more details on SOMA, log on to our website

We look forward to sharing with you soon!

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