Connective tissue is the single most pervasive tissue in the human body, it can be found in all parts of the body right down to the cellular level. The manipulation of connective tissue is highly significant to the Oriental Massage practitioner, a number of the classical texts of Traditional Chinese Medicine mention connective tissue in connection with qi . So what is the relationship between connective tissue and qi ? And what are the physiological and energetic implications of connective tissue manipulation?
According to Matsumoto and Birch, the connective tissue reaches every cell of the body, thus forming a matrix capable of operating as a system for carrying biological messages throughout the body. These messages co-ordinate the growth and development of the individual entity throughout life. Qi then is the message, it is the energy and information that signals changes in cellular metabolism. Therefore the connective tissue is a likely candidate for the medium through which qi flows.
Additionally it should be noted that connective tissue has a number of interesting properties that have profound implications for our understanding of energetics and the effect of Oriental Massage on the Human Energy Field.
The first of these properties is known as the 'Piezoelectrical effect' . Piezo is a Greek word meaning 'to squeeze', thus, to say something displays piezoelectrical properties means that when this substance has pressure applied to it, it creates an electrical output (which is a manifestation of qi ). The connective tissue is a piezoelectric tissue, therefore when manipulated it releases small electrical currents that have profound physiological effects (Matsumoto and Birch).
In the case of Dian Xue (acupressure), a popular treatment method involves pressing various acupuncture points with the thumb, fingers or elbow. In piezo-electrical terms this creates small electrical currents which then follow the path of least electrical resistance and highest conductivity. Interestingly enough these are the exact characteristics attributed to the acupuncture meridians of the body. Therefore the energy released by manual stimulation (of the acupuncture points) will begin to flow through the meridian and create the physiological effects associated with that particular meridian. In Tui Na bodywork, a traditional Chinese system of massage, pushing and grasping manipulations are the central methods of tonifying or sedating an area. The two of these techniques create a compression of the connective tissue and therefore produce bio-electrical currents.
In the case of the push, which usually follows a meridian line, constant pressure is applied to the meridian to create a tonifying effect on the qi .
By pushing in one specific direction we take the piezo-electricity and move it through the meridian in the direction of our choice, often in the direction of the meridian flow. However the push, unlike static pressure on a point, continues to create more piezo-electricity through the entire duration of the push. In other words a large amount of qi is generated, focused into a cohesive signal and then cascaded through the particular meridian.
From this information we can see that the piezo-electrical nature of connective tissue has far-reaching implications for bodyworkers.
The second property of connective tissue of interest to us is known as Thixotropy . This is the ability of connective tissue to move between a gel state and a solution state upon application of pressure and/or heat. Thus when we apply pressure to the connective tissue it becomes more hydrated, elastic and pliable. The increase in elasticity can increase the flexibility and range of motion of the area being treated. Increased hydration allows the body to remove formerly trapped particle accumulations and also increases the energetic conductivity of the connective tissue.
The increase in the conductive properties of the tissue combined with the release of piezoelectric currents means that, in the case of a push along a meridian, not only does the pressure create a current which flows along the meridian, it also increases the meridians ability to conduct qi once the treatment has finished. It is therefore possible to take an area which, through inactivity or trauma, has lost some or all of its ability to conduct bio-electricity and restore the natural flow of qi . According to traditional Chinese medical knowledge the interruption of bio-electricity (qi ) is responsible for all illness and pathological states that exist within the body. As qi is also responsible for the formation and expression of our emotions, the manipulation of the connective tissue has wide-ranging implications for both physical & emotional health and well-being.
copyright 2000 Bryn Orr