‘The Living Wetsuit’ is an analogy for a person’s whole and life-energy-infused fleshy body garment. It is made from a special type of biological fabric – a living textile that surrounds, interweaves between, and infiltrates everything else in the body – including its organs and skeleton of bones. The Living Wetsuit’s supple three-dimensional fabric (the body’s soft connective tissue, or fascia) connects all of the body’s so-called parts (i.e., cells, tissues, organs and organ systems)… uniting them into a dynamic, single whole body.
In the Western medical tradition, anatomical knowledge development has usually been associated with the scientific dissection of human cadavers (dead bodies). Dissection entails carefully separating the body into a whole lot of smaller, examinable-sized bit and pieces – including the legs, abdomen, muscles, bones, blood vessels, lungs, and brain. This way of examining bodies led to the body being likened to a complex machine that is built from many, seemingly separate (though they’re actually not in real life) ‘body parts’, or ‘body-machine components’ (e.g., cells, tissues, organs, muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels).
Despite its widespread use and considerable value to humanity, this (currently ‘conventional’) way of describing the body is in fact not entirely accurate – because it misses some very important things out! Things that aren’t perceptible in dead bodies, and things that get damaged and done away with by the dissection process.
One of these often overlooked ‘body parts’ is the fascia (sounds like fash-i-a) – the pervasive mass of soft connective tissue that surrounds, interpenetrates, and is virtually inseparable from everything else that’s underneath the skin. Fascia is spread right through the body – connecting everything together, uniting them into a dynamically functioning whole body. Fascia enables muscles to produce movement, and the body’s parts to move freely without rubbing. All of the body’s physiological and communications processes depend on it, and it is involved in the development and healing of most health problems.
“The fascia is universal in man and equal in self to all other parts”… “By its action we live, and by its failure we shrink, or swell, and die” – Andrew Taylor Still (1899)
Recent advances in research technology are now making it possible for many different types of researchers (no longer just anatomists and surgeons) to ‘see inside’ living people’s bodies, without taking them apart and disturbing their naturally whole condition. As a result, our body’s anatomical structure is now being described in some exciting new ways – many of which are explicitly acknowledging the presence of fascia. This is, in turn, changing the ways we can all think and act to preserve and improve our health.
The Living Wetsuit analogy is a useful way of thinking about a person’s whole (i.e., fascia-containing) and life-energy-infused fleshy body garment.
This modern way of thinking about our human body structure works because
An interesting, informative, accessible, and overall delightful read, The Living Wetsuit is an invaluable resource … for anyone interested in the human body and how to maintain it.
Vice-president of the Federation of Holistic Therapists (UK)
Informative, easy to follow, and packed full of info, The Living Wetsuit integrates and weaves together multiple disciplinary views in an easy-to-understand format. A brilliant book, long overdue.
Osteopath and health educator (NZ)
A ground-breaking and important book. Read it – and recommend it to your friends… Absolutely none of us can afford to be ignorant about this subject.
Carol M Davis, DPT, EdD, MS, FAPTA
Professor Emerita, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine (USA)
A brilliantly entertaining and informative read, Sue Adstrum’s ‘living wetsuit’ analogy gives us a way of understanding the body’s whole and alive structure.
Robert Schleip, PhD
Director of the Fascia Research Group, Ulm University (GER)
A good, easy, informative read … [a] no-nonsense way of thinking about our body and its care.
Professor Emerita, School of Pharmacy, University of Reading (UK/NZ)
Simply written, creatively expressed and intriguingly postured, The Living Wetsuit is a powerful reminder that the human body is so much more than we have envisioned it to be.
Medical massage therapist, myofascial release educator, BodyTalk practitioner, and health
The Living Wetsuit book by Sue Adstrum
Imagine a soft and squishy ‘wetsuit’ that surrounds, connects, supports and protects your body’s skeleton of bones, your organs, your nerves, your muscles . . .
Imagine this ‘wetsuit’ is alive, dynamic, and infused with an energy – a spirit – that disappears when you die …