Many mind-body movement professionals have encountered clients who have experienced a strong emotional release after holding an extended stretch or after moving the spine through forward, backward and/ or side-bending movements. Some people think these responses are related to fascia, the layer of tissue surrounding muscles, muscle groups, blood vessels and nerves.

Interest in the role of the myofascial system has been rising. Current theories regarding how memories may be stored
in fascia—and can later be released—were recently discussed in an editorial in the Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies (2014; 18 [2], 259-65).

Proposed theories include the following:

  • Neurofascial memory. Since fascia is well innervated, irritation or injury can trigger tissue remodeling, inflammation and nervous-system sensitization that can evolve into persistent pain in local tissue.
  • Fascial memory. Collagen deposited along lines of tension in connective tissue may create a “tensional memory” in the physical fascial structure. Certain chemical substances that are released, particularly after emotional trauma, may alter the collagen structure into a specific shape known as an “emotional scar.”
  • Extracellular matrix and tissue memory. This tissue remodeling seems to occur not only in the collagen network but also in elastin fibers and other cells throughout the connective tissues, creating a more durable and long-lasting “memory.”

The editorial author is particularly interested in the role of manual therapy in releasing various types of memories.

To learn more about additional theories, read the complete editorial at