Pandiculation: An organic way to maintain myofascial health by Luiz Fernando Bertolucci, MD
Pandiculation is the involuntary stretching of the soft tissues, which occurs in most animals and is associated with transitions between cyclic biological behaviours, especially the sleep-wake rhythm. Yawning is considered a special case of pandiculation. When, as often happens, yawning occurs simultaneously with pandiculation in other body regions, the combined behaviour is referred to as the stretch-yawning syndrome (SYS).
Although today it is possible to trace the main neural pathways responsible for the expression of the SYS, its intimate biological meanings are still poorly understood. In the First International Congress on Yawning, held in Paris in 2010, different hypotheses were presented about the main possible SYS’s mechanisms and purposes (summarized in the book: The Mystery of Yawning in Physiology and Disease, edited by Dr O. Walusinski), ranging from ethological to neurophysiological perspectives.
This article explores the hypothesis that the SYS has an auto-regulatory role in our locomotor system: to maintain the animal’s ability to express coordinated and integrated movement by regularly restoring and resetting the structural and functional equilibrium of the myofascial system.
The ideas presented here initially arose from clinical observations during the practice of a manual therapy called Muscular Repositioning (MR) (Bertolucci, 2008; Bertolucci and Kozasa, 2010a; Bertolucci, 2010b). These observations were supplemented by a review of the literature on the subject. A possible link between MR and SYS is presented: The neural reﬂexes characteristically evoked through MR are reminiscent of SYS, which both suggests that MR might stimulate parts of the SYS reaction, and also points to one of MR’s possible mechanisms of action.