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a review of dr. stephen levin’s paper, bone is fascia


Bone Fascia

Although he certainly did not invent the concept, famed orthopedic surgeon, BIOMECHANIST, and expert on fascia, Dr. Stephen Levin of the Ezekiel Biomechanics Group, published a paper back in 2003 on the structure of FASCIA, concerning something known as BIOTENSEGRITY (A New Model for Biologic Constructs: Biotensegrity).  What’s just as interesting is that back in August — about the same time that Dr. Bordoni was showing us that the fluid portion of BLOOD & LYMPH ARE BOTH FASCIA, Levin published a paper in Research Gate showing via it’s title that Bone is Fascia as well.

“The definition of fascia keeps expanding and what is now considered fascia includes all the muscles except the cells encased within epimysium and perimysium, the nerve devoid of its neural component, the gut devoid of its digestive cells, and the organs (kidney, heart, liver, etc.) devoid of their specialized organ cells.

In fact, anything that encapsulates or connects anything to anything else in the body with the exception of skin, bone, cartilage, the inside of cells, and anything that takes a compression load, is considered fascia. (It is obscure to me just what the basis is for excluding the body’s firmer structures). More simply defined, fascia seems to be that which is not parenchyma (the functional tissue of an organ as distinguished from the connective and supportive tissue).”

My first thought was hold on — if everything is fascia, then nothing is fascia.  However, after reading the article in its entirety and then watching his video explaining how “BONE IS A SPECIALIZED CONDENSATION OF CALCIUM SALTS WITHIN THE FASCIA,” I was more convinced.  Especially after he addressed this topic in the context of the ‘continuum’ (I’ll get there in a moment). 

Levin went on to describe the entire thing as being like “a doorway connecting rooms in an apartment,” showing how the PERIOSTEUM (the ultra-thin cellophane-like membrane that covers bones) is continuous with all of these tissues, fascia TENDONS, MUSCLES, and bones, although it may have different names according to where its found (EPIMYSIUM / PERIMYSIUM, etc).  Dr. Levin went on to explain that when you add it all together, bone is not quite what we think it is.

“Bone is not a crystalline column of calcium, it is a stiffly starched shirt very much dependent on the structure of its fabric for both form and function. The underlying structure of the bone is the same soft collagenous connective tissue network that composes the rest of the fascial organ. The calcium crystals manufactured by the bone’s parenchyma do not become part of the bone’s parenchyma (its inner workings), or a product to be excreted or used elsewhere in the body; they become part of the fascia support system of the bone organ. However, the calcium crystals do not dictate the layout of the boney apartment, they are stiffeners that strengthen the collagenous weight-bearing walls.”

Back to the continuum: Once we start to see how fascia penetrates virtually every tissue imaginable, as well as surrounding and invaginating most (many would argue all) organs, we get a better picture of why ultra-smart people have been calling fascia a SECOND NERVOUS SYSTEM for decades as well as intimately (and causally) linking it to all pain, sickness, and disease (HERE). Honestly, this paper is super cool and short enough to read in five minutes, which I suggest you do.  Allow me to use this concept to show you a consequence of this aspect of fascia going haywire.

One of the things we know is that when fascia is injured or exposed to SYSTEMIC INFLAMMATION, it becomes fibrotic and THICKENS or DENSIFIES (Dr. Stecco’s word).  We see this not only in virtually all injuries, but we see it in numerous disease processes including cancer (HERE).  In fact, it’s an important enough phenomenon that fibrosis (the medical word for thickened scar-like tissue) is the #1 cause of death on the planet (HERE).  The same thickening that’s characteristic of fascia is likewise characteristic of bone.

Publishing in the August 2005 issue of Nature Materials (Sacrificial Bonds and Hidden Length Dissipate Energy as Mineralized Fibrils Separate During Bone Fracture), a team of 11 researchers from the physics department at University of California, Santa Barbara showed just how right Levin really is.  A press release (Fundamental Discovery About the Fracture of Human Bone: It’s All in the ‘Glue) that was published in a university publication (The Current) revealed that unhealthy bone undergoes continual fractures at the molecular level, leading to a (you guessed it) thickening of the bone; even though said bone may be significantly weaker.

A certain amount of thickening (whether bone or soft tissue) can be a good thing.  For instance, in response to the mechanical loads and forces of athletic endeavors or hard labor, the goal is to achieve muscle hypertrophy along with some connective tissue thickening. 

However, once we understand the work of the renowned German surgeon, who, in the mid 1800’s, figured out that bone grows / thickens / becomes more dense in response to mechanical forces put on it (even if said forces are ‘bad’ such as what might be seen in altered biomechanics), we can begin to grasp how big this concept really is.  His name was put on his theory, which eventually became known as WOLFF’S LAW.  The work of Dr. Julian Wolff should help you understand why I’m a huge fan of WEIGHTLIFTING, explosive exercises such as SPRINTS, REBOUNDING / TRAMPOLINING, or stretching / exercising on a simple and inexpensive WBV MACHINE.

Here’s what’s doubly cool about all of this.  If you will focus on reducing whole-body inflammation (I’ve left you a few pointers HERE), the end result is not only stronger bones and connective tissues, but better overall health as well as the likelihood of diminished pain —- this is often times the case even for those struggling with CENTRAL SENSITIZATION.  If you found today’s post interesting or beneficial in any way, be sure and spread the wealth by liking, sharing, or following us on FACEBOOK.


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