Ask any therapist about connective tissue, and you will immediately hear about collagen and elastin, or the formation of wrinkles or sagging skin when these tissues are no longer resilient. Much more can be said about Connective Tissue, and there are many types which serve very important functions throughout the body.
When you think about the word, Connective Tissue, you will understand that it implies a function which is “to connect”. That being said, some types of connective tissue are fluid-like, such as blood and lymph. Their function stays the same, for instance, in the case of blood, it has an extra-cellular matrix known as plasma and the red and white blood cells as well as platelets are “suspended” in this plasma by its connectivity.
The Body’s Main Types of Connective Tissues are:
• Loose Connective tissue – found in vertebra and holds organs in place and attaches epithelial cells to their underlying tissues.
• Collagenous Tissue – commonly known as collagen, elastin and reticular fibers and this type is responsible for tonicity.
• Dense Connective Tissue – found mainly in joints and ligaments and these collagen fibers is responsible for joining muscles to bones.
• Specialized Connective tissue – such as bone, blood, lymph and adipose tissue.
Whichever type of Connective Tissue is being discussed, the fact stands that certain processes needs to take place in order for it to serve its function properly, for the long term. For these processes to occur, such as the influx of oxygen and nutrients, removal of toxins etc, there needs to be a constant flow of blood and lymph, to and from these tissues.
It is just as important for structures such as bones, as new platelets need to be formed for it to be healthy and strong. Exercise is recommended for the most part, but not all patients or clients are able to commit to a regular exercise routine and some are not interested in a strenuous program.
Connective tissue normally degenerates through ageing and poor diet and/or lifestyle. The results can lead to many different and undesired conditions such as a decreased range of motion in a joint, pain, stiffness, hernias and also the visible signs of ageing for instance elastosis (loss of elasticity) and the formation of lines and wrinkles. Blood, and by that we mean fresh, well-oxygenated and nutrient-rich blood can really be seen as the elixir of life, and we must do our utmost to enhance its flow.
This is where Massage Therapists can play a vital role in a client’s quality of life, by providing that which is not possible for them to attain through exercise or proper self-care. Regular massage, whether it is superficial lymphatic drainage or deep tissue massage, is a sure-fire way to stimulate cell regeneration, improve blood circulation and to provide the workout the body needs to be agile and able to perform the daily tasks we expect of our bodies.