I've recently completed a 3 day course set in a dissection laboratory at Kings, run by John Sharkey. It was a remarkable opportunity to explore what I have studied in both living bodies and also in books and on-line dissections.
First I am conscious of the debt I owed to those who chose to allow their bodies to be used in the pursuit of greater knowledge. John and his team were keen to remind us of the preciousness of this opportunity and the privilege we had of working in the lab. Second, I was grateful to the leadership of the course - Sharkey himself, Joanne Avison and Karen Kirkness, as well as for shorter contributions from Dr Jaap van der Val and Dr Hanno Steinke who gave insights into their own original research into fascia and the patterns for folding, stretching and wrapping of tissue as it grows into one complete system during development.
My fellow attendees were as excited as I was to explore how the 2D traditional text books related to the complex reality that we were able to uncover - not by assuming the books were right, but by really looking at the intertwined networks that emerged by following through on naturally occurring structures. One student spent most of the time working out the interactions of the outer muscles of the hip and thigh, and was excited to feel how the pulls from superior structures above the greater trochanter fed through in unexpected and largely undocumented ways to further down the thigh. We could all see and feel the absolute tensile strength of condensed fascia and how pearlescent, tough materteral was running like weaving threads across and between structures. We were astonished to see clear threads of fascia crossing and re-crossing from each side of the scalp at the level immediately above the bone, from above each ear and across down to the others side - I've never seen anything showing these structures in anatomy texts. Neither do the anatomy books give you a view of what the underside of muscles look like - for instance, the muscles on the front of the thigh are shown as if only the side looking outwards is important. But looking behind them - the the side that faces inwards - the muscles look very different. The internal mechanisms for helping large units work both independently and in a coordinated way was really highlighted for me. It was a reminder of the number of factors which contribute to our movement and health.
The whole course was a beautiful opportunity to consider the amazing detail and complexity of our anatomy, but also of how we need to think in a broader way about bodies far beyond seeing them as an agglomeration of parts. We need to consider fluid dynamics, compression, tension, mass and perception, to look at the complex geometries which we use to distribute stress and gather strength from recruiting across the entire system to move in any way. It demonstrated how we really need to explore complex movement to keep our whole body in shape. We also need to respect and acknowledge the pattern of how we grow, and use that in addressing any problems we have, rather than simplifying by looking only at simplified 2D solutions.
The whole course was a fantastic opportunity to improve my own ability to picture what lies deep to the skin when working with clients, and also to hear from researchers directly about their work and understanding. My thanks to all who put this course together.