Massage & Bodywork

May | June 2014

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6 82 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k m a y / j u n e 2 0 1 4 Short Stories about Connective Tissue The Ubiquitous Material By Andrew Biel L ike oil, wood, and steel, connective tissue is a transformable material. Just as petroleum can be converted into plastic or fuel, and wood into planks or sawdust, connective tissue is a remarkable anatomical substance that is extremely versatile. It can form everything from liquid coverings to pliable sheets to stiff rods. And that's just in your pinkie finger. As a diversified, ubiquitous, and three-dimensional tissue, connective tissue permeates every corner of our anatomy. It is so pervasive, in fact, that if we could magically extract everything out of us that is not connective tissue—muscle, nerve, and epithelial tissue—our shape would remain virtually the same (as displayed to the right by "Otto" and his connective tissue self ). And it's not without variety in shape and composition. Your bones, fasciae, tendons, ligaments, bursae, joint capsules, cartilage, periosteum, blood and lymph fluids, adipose tissue, and mucus are all forms of connective tissue. They are separate in name only, for each of these structures is intertwined with all the others. None float alone. One tissue's floor is another's ceiling; one's landing site is another's launch pad. At times, this tissue—in its various forms—will seem to be at cross-purposes: it separates some structures while connecting others. As active animals, our bodies must be able to move while simultaneously retaining structural integrity. Connective tissue does both jobs—it is essential for mobility, but also intrinsic to stability. Illustrations by Robin Dorn, LMP.

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