Newsletter February 2017 EN



February 2017

A sporadic info-letter of the Fascia Research Group, Ulm University, Germany

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Workshop with Paul Hodges PhD (Australia) in Munich

Many physiotherapist and Pilates teachers know about his pioneering contributions with the field of neuromuscular research around spinal stability. For many decades Paul Hodges and his colleagues from Australia have been spearheading the concepts and research basis behind ‘core stability’, ‘inner unit’ etc. While in the past his prime interest had been in the activity of trunk muscles (particularly of the Transverse Abdominis and Multifidus), his recent attention has increasingly shifted to the dynamic interactions of pro-/anti-inflammatory cytokines in myofascial tissues, and how these respond to different movement stimulations and physiotherapeutic interventions.


It is therefore a particular honor and joy to announce, that we managed to ‘hijack’ Prof. Hodges for giving a 2-day workshop in Munich/Germany on March 15th-16th 2017.

In this workshop he will of course review the latest details (and questions) about the concept of segmental stability; including hands-on practical applications for clinical practice. However, he will also include his latest insights and inspirations relating to the field of matrix regulation of myofascial tissues. Several of us heard him speak already about this topic in a recent World Congress on Low Back & Pelvic Pain in Singapore, and can attest that it will be very hard not to be infected by his own enthusiastic interest in this field.

More about this workshop at



New incentives for Fascia Research Society members

Many readers of this info-letter are probably already aware of the attractive advantages of a membership in the international ‘Fascia Research Society’, which includes – among others – a free subscription of the Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies, which constitutes currently the most important journal of publications and debate in the fascia oriented research field. Current membership fees are $125 for professionals and $35 only for students. A few days ago the Fascia Research Society decided to announce the following new incentives: members will now also receive a 10% discount for the upcoming congress Connective Tissues in Sports Medicine at Ulm University on March 17th-18th, 2017 ( In addition, they are offered free participation on a webinar preparing for this congress (dates Feb. 6th & 7th, 2017) and are invited to participate in a personal exchange meeting with Thomas Findley PhD and other society members during the congress. More at

And last not least: society members are additionally entitled for a 10% reduction for the above described workshop with Paul Hodges PhD in Munich. To do so, simply click on the respective option during the online-registration process.



Clinical Pioneer Award for sports physician Müller-Wohlfahrt

muellerAs Germany’s football team doctor and longtime doctor of FC Bayern Munich (1977-2015) Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt MD has treated thousands of international athletes. Usain Bolt dedicated his 100-meter sprint Olympic gold medal to him and thereby continued a long list of grateful sports celebrities that have been treated by him, such as Ronaldo, Paula Redcliffe, Kobe Bryant or Michael Owen.

What is less known in the public is that he has been paying a very high attention to fascial connective tissues in both his assessments as well as treatments. He described this already in detail several decades ago in several publications and continues to practice this approach today. He can therefore be regarded as a true pioneer in the field of fascia oriented sports medicine. In addition to his own assessments and treatments he has also trained and inspired may other sports medicine experts that have collaborated with him and have learned from him during the last few decades.

Based on this background, the upcoming congress will now include as a special highlight the handing-over of a Clinical Pioneer Award to Dr. Müller-Wohlfahrt. The award, given in the name of the Fascia Research Society as well as the Section of Sportsmedicine of Ulm University, will be handed over to Dr. Müller-Wohlfahrt by Thomas Findley MD Ph (USA), founder of the Fascia Resarch Society.




Telocytes as a new cell type in fascia

In 2010 Bulgarian researchers discovered a new cell type in humans and other vertebrates, the so-called telocytes. They are present in fibrous connective tissues and contain very long prolongations, called telopodes. While earlier researchers had considered them to be neural cells, it became clear that they are connective tissue cells whose origin is in the embryological mesenchyme. In contrast to regular fibroblasts they are less involved in the synthesis of fibers and matrix elements, but are strongly involved in intercellular communication. Recent studies now suggest that they play significant roles in fibroblast mechanosensation – the process how connective tissue cells sense mechanical stimulations and translate them into chemical demands – as well as in the regulation of wound repair and matrix remodeling. It seems almost certain that they will become prime topics in the future fascia research field. More at:


Pelvic organs now without any parasympathetic innervation?

A recent publication in the journal Science triggered considerable attention by suggesting that the common concept about the autonomic innervation of pelvic organs may be wrong. Up to now it has been assumed that the parasympathetic nervous system includes not only a cranial but also a sacral portion, with the latter innervating mainly organs in the pelvic region.

A detailed genetic and molecular analysis of the autonomic sacral nerves now revealed – rather surprisingly for most medicine professionals! – that these nerves clearly express more similarities with sympathetic than with parasympathetic fibers.


ANS wrong

A possible consequence of these findings could be that the pelvic organs – including uterus, bladder, ovaries, kidneys, genital organs and large intestine – have to be understood as being primarily regulated by sympathetic innervation, whereas the functioning of the parasympathetic nervous system will be restricted to cranial and vagal functions.


More at:




Parasympathetic innervation. Image: Blausen gallery 2014. Wikiversity Journal of Medicine. DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010




New explanation for frequent tendon injuries in adolescent athletes

A study from the group around Adamantios Arampatzis PhD in Berlin investigated the development of tendons and muscles in the legs of 18 adolescent volleyball players over a period of 2 years. They found a relatively uniform increase in morphological and functional parameters of the tendons, while the related muscles expressed more non-homogeneous (and more diverse) increases over this time. They concluded that the resulting discrepancies between muscular force and tendon loading capacity in a significant portion of the athletes may be a suitable explanation for the frequent injuries in tendinous tissues found in this population. If verified, this could strengthen the value a specific tendon training for injury prevention for these young athletes. More at:


Hormonal receptors on fascial fibroblasts

Two new publications from the group around Carla Stecco MD from Padua University investigated specific transmembrane receptors on fascial fibroblasts. One of these studies clearly documented the finding of hormonal receptors in female patients. This fits nicely to well-known observations how e.g. estrogen tends to influence fascial stiffness. The new study now reports that many fascial fibroblasts were found to contain receptors for estrogen. Interestingly this was not the case with all fibroblasts, only with a portion of them. A similar finding was reported about receptors for the hormone relaxin (which is assumed to express a softening function on dense fibrous collagenous tissues). Both receptor types were more frequent in post-menopausal than in pre-menopausal women. This finding may be particularly relevant in the light of the fact that both receptor types are assumed to express anti-inflammatory as well as anti-fibrotic functions.





Typical fibroblasts, as are present in all fascial tissues.





The second study from this group documented the frequent presence of endocannabinoid receptors in fascial fibroblasts. These transmembrane receptors are not only receptive to specific cannabis-associated substances with the body, but they also exhibit a pain killing function. The presence of such receptors in these tissues – together with likely future investigations about regional and inter-individual density differences – are particularly interesting in light of other studies that suggested an increased endocannabinoid expression induced by manual therapy. Not surprisingly: these non-hormonal messenger substances are also assumed to express anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic functions in fascial tissues. More at:




Christopher Marc Gordon, a South Germany based physiotherapist and member of our Fascia Research Group at Ulm University, has developed a novel therapeutic tool which permits a new form of myofascial self-treatment and which we now happily distribute via our shop. It is a very elegantly-looking wooden stick that contains four different surface areas and promises a much stronger traction (or shearing-) effect on the treated tissues compared with conventional foam rollers. In addition, an electronic oscillator hidden inside, provides a gentle mechanical vibration which promises an increased sensorial stimulation as well as metabolic activation. Several clinical studies, including those presented at the most recent Fascia Research Congress, suggest an impressive therapeutic beneficial effect.

More about this new tool at:









 So far the latest news from the fascia research field
as seen through the perspective of the small Fascia Research Group at Ulm University.

Fascianatedly yours
Dr. Robert Schleip and Fascia Research Team

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