Dane Roubos, D.C. http://www.BodyMindPeace.com
You are probably already aware that there is a tremendous variety among chiropractic philosophies and physicians. It’s a big topic. I’ll give you an overview of my personal approach to chiropractic.
Old-time chiropractors talked about “innate intelligence.” This refers to the natural wisdom of the body and He or She who made it, and animates it. This notion holds that the body has the power to heal itself when any blockage to that “flow” of intelligence is removed.
Old-time chiropractic philosophy also holds that this innate intelligence, or “nerve energy” flows through the nerves to the tissues. I’m totally on board with this view, up to here, as are many chiropractors.
I’m going to diverge from our story briefly to tell you something really cool that we learned about in school. It’s called “neurotrophic flow.”
Nerve cells can be up to three feet long, and probably longer in most NBA players! The cellular fluid – “cytoplasm” for all you cell biologists – circulates along this long “axon.” That’s the part of the nerve that’s long and skinny.
An interesting experiment was done on some poor critter, and it goes like this. A tiny thread was tied around the nerve going from the spine to an organ – I don’t recall which.
This thread, acting like a tourniquet, impaired the cytoplasmic flow along the nerve axon, without impairing the electrical impulse that nerves are so famous for. Can you guess what happened?
The organ, deprived of some as yet unknown substance by the pressure of the tourniquet, got sickly. When the thread was released, it’s health returned. Now, neurotrophic research is all the rage. There is so much we don’t know!
Bones Out of Place
Traditional chiropractic philosophy also holds that “pinched nerves” impair the flow, and that these are caused by bones “out-of-place.” There are some differences that spring up at this point.
The Motion Model
I’m more inclined towards a functional model, based on motion. Every joint is held together by ligaments. Ligaments are what get torn when you sprain your ankle.
It seems a variety of factors contribute to tightening or shortening of particular ligaments around a joint. This could include tension due to stress, injury and subsequent scar tissue formation, chronic “pulls” from other ligaments or muscles, poor posture, inflammation due to food allergy, nutrient deficiency, etc.
This section to be continued . . .
When Adjustments Aren’t Enough
Dane Roubos, D.C. www.www.BodyMindPeace.com
If you have been to a few different chiropractors, you have probably noticed that we all tend to work differently, and sometimes the difference can be profound. I think this is a good thing, as the individuality of practitioners allows you a greater opportunity to find someone who suits your needs.
Chiropractic spinal adjustments are commonly used to restore motion to joints that have become stuck or “fixated.” While they are a valuable tool in treating pain or other symptoms, there are also many other factors to be considered. Spinal fixations are often caused by tension or restriction in other tissues.
Many things can impair the healing process, ranging from physical, to mental, emotional or spiritual in nature. This article mainly focuses on the physical causes of spinal pain and restriction. Since the muscles and other soft tissues are so responsive to our mental-emotional states, stress also plays a big role in back pain, headaches, etc. For more information on this topic, please visit the Stress Mastery category.
Problems Easily Missed
Just on the structural level alone, there are so many things that can cause trouble, and so much to know that 25 years of study and practice still leaves me committed to learning more. Much of the dysfunction is subtle, requiring special training to detect and treat effectively. There’s a lot that’s not taught in chiropractic college. It’s no wonder that practitioners tend to miss some things when doing an evaluation.
If your doctor has done a thorough evaluation, they probably discovered a whole raft of little problems that you didn’t even know you had. This can be important because of the profound interconnection of everything in our bodies. There’s a good chance that these dysfunctions are contributing to your symptoms.
For example, I have seen chronic hip problems improve after releasing a stuck sphenoid bone in the cranium, or allowing stored tension in a uterus or bladder to “unwind.” In addition, long-forgotten injuries can gradually cause trouble years later; in the same area or in some other part of the body.
If you are being treated for pain or other symptoms but not improving, it’s likely that something has been missed, and it’s probably time to look deeper. Since most chiropractors are pretty good at adjusting the spine, there’s a good chance that the roadblock is somewhere else.
Muscle groups become shortened for a variety of reasons including injury, chronic (long-standing) tension, postural or occupational stresses, etc. Shortened muscles restrict normal motion and tend to develop painful trigger points. They produce an uneven pull on their bony attachments, which can cause tenderness or pain, postural misalignment, or even joint degeneration due to mis-tracking.
Somatic Technique is a simple therapy that works with the muscle, nerve and brain to reset the signals to the muscle’s cells and restore their normal length. The client actively participates in the process, then repeats a simple procedure twice a day at home to help “set” the new pattern into their nervous system. This is usually much more effective than regular stretching.
Myo means muscle, and fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds and supports all our different parts. Adhesions form when scar tissue binds two or more tissues together. They usually develop from inflammation due to injury, surgery, or chronic stress in the tissues from repetitive movements or overuse. Tennis Elbow is a common example. Adhesions usually cause problems like those created by shortened muscles.
Active Release Technique, a combination of pressure, traction, and movement can be used effectively to break up the scar tissue and release the restriction. Clients can sometimes be taught to use the technique on themselves to speed their recovery. While it’s uncomfortable when done correctly, it is much less painful (and more effective) than common deep muscle work.
This occurs when scar tissue develops between a nerve and a muscle, or when a tight muscle or band of fascia squeezes a nerve. When adhesions are present, the nerve is tugged on during simple movements, causing pain and other symptoms. The most commonly known example is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Nerve entrapment conditions can also include Sciatica, or any pain, numbness or tingling in the neck, back or extremities.
Nerve mobilization techniques use specialized positioning and movement to restore freedom to restricted nerves. This approach can often clear up stubborn or mysterious symptoms that no one has been able to help. A simpler form of self-mobilization may be prescribed to continue the work at home between visits.
The CranioSacral system is enclosed by bone and fascia (connective tissue) which holds in the cerebrospinal fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord. It includes the cranium (head), spine and sacrum.
This system is in constant motion, like breathing but slower. The subtle rhythm can be felt anywhere on the body by an experienced practitioner, who can follow an imbalance in the rhythm to locate its source. Dysfunction in this system often contributes to chronic health problems and a wide range of symptoms.
CranioSacral Therapy is very relaxing, and improves the results of chiropractic adjustments and the other techniques discussed in this article. Very effective by itself, it also helps to clear out many problems that prevent a normal healing response.
The lymph system is in charge of cleaning up the spaces in between the cells in almost every tissue of our bodies. If the lymph flow becomes impaired for any reason, metabolic toxins quickly accumulate in the tissues, resulting in irritation, mild inflammation, or even swelling.
Gentle Lymphatic Therapy is one of the best things I’ve found to reduce or eliminate painful trigger points in the muscles. It has also produced amazing results in “melting” some serious chronic spinal restrictions in several clients, when nothing else had much effect.
Irritation or Inflammation Due to Food Allergy
Food allergies are far more common than most people realize. Their potential effects on our muscles, joints and spine are even less well known. Yet I’ve had many clients who demonstrated significant aggravation of spine, joint or muscle aches & pains as a direct result of eating certain foods.
Wheat or other gluten-containing grains are a common cause joint or muscular problems, including headaches, back pain, and some types of arthritis. Whenever a client has recurring pain or other symptoms, or when they only experience limited improvement with treatment, food allergy is high on my list of things to investigate.
Body Memory of Old Trauma
The tissues and cells of the body are capable of storing memories of past trauma. This is especially true if the body is not able to disperse the force sustained by an injury, or if there was a strong emotional component accompanying the injury. This can form an “energy cyst” which can disrupt normal energy flow (as in acupuncture meridians), cause irritation in the local tissues, and lead to joint fixations, tight muscles, etc. The muscles and fascia can also store tension patterns created by injuries, leading to chronically tight muscles, postural distortions, pain, etc.
Helping the body to release these stored tensions and energy cysts can relieve tremendous stress on the system and greatly improve overall function, relaxation, mood and general energy levels. CranioSacral Therapy and SomatoEmotional Release techniques provide an effective way to “unwind” areas of chronic tension and release energy cysts. The process is slow and gentle, following the body’s lead. It is often necessary to clear out old trauma before other therapies can provide lasting results.
Many things can delay the healing process, and any therapy that is not tailored to the individual usually fails to provide lasting benefit. When progress stops, it may be time to look beyond what you’ve already tried. A broad range of practitioners and useful therapies are available to those who wish to explore more deeply.
CranioSacral Therapy and Chiropractic
© Dane Roubos, D.C. http://www.BodyMindPeace.com
Chiropractic is one of the more popular “alternative” therapies available, and a growing percentage of our population has experienced its benefits. While the majority of chiropractic patients are happy with their results, many do not achieve the outcome they had hoped for.
CranioSacral Therapy Great for Sensitive People
Many of those with long-standing (chronic) problems experience the frustration of needing repeated visits to keep their symptoms at a manageable level. Still others just do not like being adjusted in the fashion common to the majority of chiropractors, in which a short, quick thrust is given. I have often found CranioSacral Therapy to be a great help for clients with these concerns. This is particularly true when physical trauma or emotional stress is part of the picture.
CranioSacral Therapy has been popularized and widely taught by Dr. John Upledger, an osteopath who researched the technique while teaching at the University of Michigan. It is a very slow and gentle hands-on approach to releasing chronic tension and restrictions in the body’s tissues.
Benefits of CranioSacral Therapy
CranioSacral Therapy works primarily with the connective tissue (fascia) that surrounds every muscle, nerve, bone, joint, blood vessel and organ in the body, including the brain and spinal cord. It uses a very light touch, sustained for a period of time, to release tight connective tissue around joints in the cranial bones and other joints of the body. This allows for greater freedom of movement and improved function.
Proficient CST practitioners can locate hidden sources of mechanical or energetic blockages that usually accompany chronic pain or other long-standing symptoms. It is common to find the actual root of the problem some distance away from the site of pain.
One of CST’s many benefits is a deep sense of peace and relaxation. Since stress is considered to be a significant factor in many illnesses, this benefit alone can be a powerful healing force. In addition, many people have trouble relaxing, and experiencing it in this way can help them learn to do it themselves.
CranioSacral Therapy can be very effective when dealing with residuals of recent or past injuries. In addition to the physical damage and scar tissue formation, it appears the body often stores some “memory” of the trauma in its tissues. Later on, this usually manifests as chronic tension, as if the body is stuck in the state it was in after the injury. It’s as though the body is still trying to protect itself from further harm. This problem can also contribute to a wide variety of other symptoms, which are difficult to treat effectively with the usual chiropractic modalities.
I began to use CranioSacral Therapy seriously after attending Upledger’s second seminar. I started with two rather difficult cases, both suffering from chronic problems after auto accidents. I had worked with them both for a few months prior to this, using the best techniques I had developed over fifteen years of practice. This consisted mainly of chiropractic adjustments and some excellent myofascial (muscle and fascia) techniques which are usually effective for this type of injury.
While both had improved significantly since starting treatment, they had reached a plateau and it was time to try something else. Both clients responded well to my shift to CST, noting immediate benefits. One went on to complete resolution, and the other improved significantly beyond her previous level. I was sufficiently impressed to make this a regular part of my sessions.
During CranioSacral Therapy, it’s not unusual for a client to find a part of their body beginning to move around gently without their conscious intent. It’s an amazing experience to feel your body moving of its own accord. Some practitioners refer to this process as “unwinding.” It is thought that the inner wisdom of the body engages the affected areas and allows them to move in such a way as to release some of the trauma stored in the tissues. People often feel as if a weight has been lifted off after these experiences.
Another client had sustained a mild brain injury after a “whiplash” from a rear-end collision. One of her complaints was difficulty with visual tracking. She had trouble reading text on a computer screen because it was hard for her to follow a line all the way across and come back to pick up the next line below. Over a few sessions of “unwinding” with a focus on her brain stem, she experienced a 50% improvement in this problem. Some specific cranial work also cleared up the chronic pain she had in her left eye.
People who aren’t comfortable with the usual chiropractic adjustments can do very well with CranioSacral Therapy. A sixty-two year-old woman was referred to me for chronic neck, arm and low back pain after an auto injury. After a bad experience with another chiropractor, she was fearful of being hurt by the adjustments and could not relax into them. Using the gentle approach of CST, we were able to double the range of motion her neck and dramatically reduce her pain level.
She also experienced some interesting and ultimately beneficial “side effects” which she attributed to the treatment. She had difficulty expressing her honest feelings to people and usually put her needs aside to accommodate others. While she always felt better and very relaxed after our sessions, she would often feel angry and irritable the next day.
She thought she was beginning to let out some of the feelings she had kept inside over the years. She began to let people know how she felt, and to stand up for herself more. People began to comment that she seemed “stronger” and treated her with greater respect.
It Takes Time
If CranioSacral Therapy has a downside, it’s the time it takes to do a thorough session. While it can be a useful part of a 15 minute chiropractic visit, longer sessions are usually needed to get to the depth required for effective and lasting results.
This usually takes from 30-60 minutes, depending on the client’s needs and the therapist’s skill. Most doctors are not willing to spend that kind of time, and you’re doing well to find a doc who will give you 20 minutes. To me, the extra benefit is well worth the time.
Finding a Practitioner
If you feel drawn to explore CranioSacral Therapy, there are a few therapists in the Ashland area. As with any techniques or profession, you will encounter a wide range of skill levels among CST practitioners, from beginning to advanced.
To increase the likelihood of success, I would recommend that you start with someone who has completed at least the first three or four Upledger seminars, which include training in SomatoEmotional Release. Therapists with this experience are more likely to be able to assist you in releasing residuals from old traumas, if and when that is appropriate.
To locate therapists in your area, visit the International Association of Health Care Practitioners. Select CranioSacral Therapy in the Modality section and enter your zip code (or the first 3 digits of your zip to extend the range of your search).
© 1999 by Dane Roubos, D.C. (541) 821-3263
Published in Twin Cities Wellness
Mpls-St. Paul, MN
March issue, 1999
Lymphatic Drainage Therapy
A Hidden Key to Health and Longevity,
as Developed and Taught by Bruno Chikly, MD
Article © Dane Roubos, D.C. http://www.BodyMindPeace.com
Before we get into Lymphatic Drainage Therapy and what it can do for you, I want to offer you some basic information about the mysterious Lymphatic System, because most people don’t know much about it. I’ve tried to put some humor into it, because this science stuff can be rather dry!
The Amazing Lymphatic System – Keeping You Alive and Well on a Day-to-Day Basis
What is lymph, and why do we need it?
Our tiny blood capillary walls are only one cell layer thick, to allow for exchange of nutrients and waste products. But because they’re so thin, they’re also a little leaky. In fact, about half of the protein in the blood leaks out over the course of a day, along with other blood components and plasma.
These gradually seep into the surrounding tissues, filling the spaces between the cells. Since large molecules like protein attract water, it doesn’t take long before the tissues get rather swampy if nothing is done about it. There goes the neighborhood . . .
Fortunately, our bodies have a built-in sump pump to gather up all that protein and fluid, along with toxic cellular waste products, dead cells, cancer cells, bacteria, etc, and carry it back to the blood stream – it’s called the Lymphatic System. On the way back, everything passes through one or more lymph nodes where the bad stuff is broken down and any bacteria are destroyed – Yea
Since the lymph system isn’t world famous, you probably haven’t heard much about it, and may be wondering what all the fuss is about. Let me give you an example of its importance. Let’s say a couple of tiny juvenile delinquents snuck into your body while you were fast asleep and tied off all your lymph vessels, shutting down the lymph flow back to your bloodstream.
By the time you woke up the next morning, your body would be swelling up like a human balloon, you would feel like crap, and even calling in sick wouldn’t lift your spirits much.
It would rapidly progress from bad to worse, and within 24-48 hours you’d find yourself in the promised land (according to Guyton’s Physiology textbook). Unfortunately, through a technical oversight Mr. Guyton neglected to mention anything about the juvenile delinquents or the promised land. Oh, well, I trust you got the general idea.
Every living thing needs an effective system to remove and recycle waste from its tissues. Needless to say, the lymph system gives new meaning to the concept of sustainable living! Even subtle impairments can lead to problems.
Use this lymph trivia to amaze your friends!
- The lymph system filters about 1.5–3 liters of fluid daily
- There is three times as much lymph fluid (about 10.5 liters) in your body as there is blood (about 3.5 liters)
- There are 400-700 lymph nodes in your body which process and purify the lymph flowing through them
- Lymph vessels are found in almost every tissue
- Lymph is the only system capable of returning the “leaked” protein back to the blood (where it needs to be)
- The smallest lymph vessel cells (lymphangions) have spiral muscles that “squeeze” the lymph toward the heart in waves
- These cells contract repetitively about 15,000 times a day, with no time off for good behavior, and they do it all for you. Now, that’s selfless service!
- Lymph waves occur about 5-15 times a minute, and can be perceived by sensitive hands
- Lymphangions can be activated by light pressure stretching the skin in the right direction
- The lymph vessels have valves to prevent back-flow
- About 85% of the cells in your lymph fluid are protective immune cells called Lymphocytes
- About 13-15% of the cells in your lymph fluid are protective immune cells called Macrophages
- These immune cells kick ass when they find cancer cells or foreign invaders
- A healthy lymph system does all this without you even having to think about it – it’s idiot-proof!
If the lymph system is so cool, why would we need a “therapy” for it?
Everything in the body is cool – in fact it’s all an awesome, mind-blowing miracle! Trauma from injuries or surgery will often damage the lymph vessels. Poor nutrition, inadequate exercise, inflammation, infection, exposure to toxins, and of course, stress, can all play havoc with the body’s tissues, including the lymphatic system.
Hopefully, this bit of background will give you a better understanding and appreciation, not only of the lymphatic system, but also what is to follow.
What is Lymph Drainage Therapy?
French physician Bruno Chikly, MD, was fascinated with the lymphatic system and conducted his own research into its function for many years. As he realized its profound importance to our health, he began to develop new methods to improve its function.
He discovered that it was possible to “feel” the subtle waves of lymph flow, and developed a “mapping” process to identify areas that would benefit from treatment. He also found that gently stretching the tissues around the lymph vessels in harmony with the “waves” would stimulate the little lymphangions, improving the flow in restricted areas and restoring health and vitality to affected tissues.
Over time, he created Lymphatic Drainage Therapy (LDT), wherein “Drainage” is pronounced French-like, as in “massage.” There are other schools of Lymphatic therapies, but they do not have the ability to feel the lymphatic flow and are therefore more general and mechanical in their techniques.
Dr. Chikly’s Lymphatic Drainage Therapy is a sensitive, gentle, light touch manual therapy that is documented to provide these benefits:
- Stimulates blood circulation & reduces edema
- Stimulates and supports your immune system
- Calms the sympathetic nervous system (stress & fight or flight) and enhances the parasympathetic nervous system (promotes relaxation, digestion, and reduces pain & spasm)
Trained health practitioners will immediately recognize the power of these fundamental benefits which promote healing of every aspect of our mind and body.
In the next section, I’ll share with you some of the many uses I’ve found for it clinically.
Mystery, Magic and Practical Application of LDT
Having been a student of Dr. John Upledger’s CranioSacral Therapy, and Dr. Jean Pierre Barral’s Visceral Manipulation, I was no stranger to perceiving subtle movements of bones, organs and other tissues in the body. But I admit I had my doubts about feeling the even subtler waves of low-volume lymph flow. While this concern proved unfounded, I’m still amazed that I, or anyone for that matter, can feel such subtleties in the body. This is part of the magic for me.
There is also a mystery to this work, and my work in general, regardless of which approach I’m using. While the client will usually have something they would like me to focus on, and I may have an idea of where the session will go, there is almost always a surprise; an unexpected “discovery” that emerges during the session.
One, or both of us will often have insights that connect the physical issue we are working on with a life issue they’re engaged with, or sometimes they’ll have a memory of a particular event when “it all started” which we can then clear out during the session.
When I’m surrendered to the “process,” as is most often the case, I’m intuitively drawn to related areas that are also involved in some way. Perhaps two or more organs need to be “reconnected” in their communication, or rebalanced in their relationship to take the next step in healing the underlying issue. How any of this happens will probably always remain a mystery, which is OK with me. I am only exceedingly grateful that it does, that people find it helpful, and that I get to be a part of it.
First, a little background. Since I started chiropractic college in 1979, I’ve been working with “fixations” or limitations in joint movement thought to be due to restriction or shortening in the ligaments surrounding the joints of the spine or extremities, and part of the “subluxation complex.” The typical chiropractic treatment for this is a forceful mobilization, usually resulting in the joint “popping” which people seem to either love or hate.
Over the years I’ve found that restricted visceral organs, muscles or other tissues could also cause spinal restrictions, apparently via their attachments to the spinal structure. I also learned that the main cause of a spinal problem was often to be found some distance away from the actual pain or other symptoms, which made the intuitive part so helpful
This was all valuable information, and gently working with these hidden causes often proved helpful in reducing joint fixations and the resulting nerve irritation that caused so much trouble for people. But it often didn’t completely clear out the fixations, so there was still a missing piece to the puzzle.
In the two years I’ve been using the Lymphatic therapy, I’ve found it has an amazing ability to “melt” many of these chronic fixations. It can literally dissolve a long-standing spinal or extremity blockage, and restore the area to free and full movement. If the release isn’t complete, the therapy has prepared the area for some gentle chiropractic mobilization, which will often finish the job.
I’ve also found that Lymphatic Drainage is great for restoring lost motion to restricted visceral organs. Please see the article on Visceral Mobilization if you’d like to learn about the importance of freely moving organs.
To locate a Lymph Drainage Therapist in your area, visit the International Association of Health Care Practitioners. Lymph Drainage Therapy in the Modality section and enter your zip code (or the first 3 digits of your zip to extend the range of your search).
To be continued . . .
Developed and Taught by Jean-Pierre Barral, D.O.
Article by Dane Roubos, D.C. http://www.BodyMindPeace.com
Visceral Manipulation (VM) is a gentle hands-on therapy that locates restrictions or imbalances involving the organs, their supportive connective tissues, and the musculo-skeletal system of the body. Visceral Manipulation helps restore normal function and tone to the organs, and often relieves long-standing pain, anywhere from the pelvis up to the neck and shoulder areas.
The term Visceral Manipulation came from its developer, Dr. Jean-Pierre Barral, a French osteopathic physician. While the name itself sounds rather harsh (to me, at least), it is a very gentle and respectful approach to healing. I prefer to call it Visceral Mobilization, which to me, better describes what it actually does.
“Visceral” refers to the internal organs, which include the heart, lungs, liver, gall bladder, stomach, small & large intestines, kidneys, bladder, spleen, pancreas and female reproductive organs. It works mainly with the connective tissue (fascia) which envelops and supports these organs, as well as most every other tissue in the body.
What’s the Big Deal?
A small restriction between your liver and stomach may not seem like a big deal. But consider that this restriction is being stressed and magnified over 20,000 times a day as your diaphragm moves up and down with your breath, and it may be something worth tending to. These effects will influence other organs as well. Our organs are all in continuous motion, and in constant communication with our brain and with each other.
Dr. John Upledger, the osteopathic physician who pioneered the teaching of CranioSacral Therapy had this to say about Visceral Manipulation, “The potential for application of this concept in the diagnosis and treatment of internal organ dysfunction is, in my own opinion, limitless. Its use in preventive medicine and health care could be one of the most important contributions of our life time.”
Our Organs Have Their Own Subtle Rhythm
In the article on CranioSacral Therapy, I spoke of another rhythm in the body beyond the familiar heart beat and breathing rhythms, called the cranial-sacral rhythm. Each organ in the body also has its own subtle movement, which duplicates the migration of that organ as the embryo (baby) developed in its mother’s womb. The visceral rhythm is similar to, but distinct from the cranial-sacral rhythm. While subtle, it can be felt by trained and practiced hands.
In a healthy state, the organs all move in synchrony, as if slowly dancing to the melody of their early development. When one organ can’t move in harmony with its surrounding viscera due to abnormal tone, adhesions or displacement, it works against all the body’s organs and structures. This disharmony creates fixed, abnormal points of tension that the body is forced to move around. That chronic irritation, in turn, can pave the way for greater dysfunction and possibly even disease.
Practitioners use the rhythmic motions of the organs to determine if and where treatment is needed. Visceral Manipulation employs gentle manual pressures that encourage the normal mobility, tone and motion of the viscera and their connective tissues. These gentle mobilizations can potentially improve the functioning of individual organs, the systems the organs function within, and the structural integrity of the entire body.
As in CranioSacral Therapy, the rhythm of the organs and related tissues is very useful in locating and treating blockages or imbalances in the body. A skilled therapist can locate these problem spots through a technique called “listening,” which refers to a very careful sensing with the hands. Listening allows detection of problems that usually remain hidden from non-VM or non-CST practitioners.
Visceral Organs Can Cause Spinal Pain or Restriction
The visceral organs are directly or indirectly suspended from the spine. However, proper balance and function of the organs also contributes to spinal support. So there is an interactive relationship between the spine (and its muscular system) and the visceral organs. What happens to one also influences the others.
It is well known in chiropractic that relieving spinal restrictions can improve organ function. Unfortunately, few health care professionals are aware that relieving restrictions in the organs and their supportive structures can also improve spinal function and help to relieve back pain.
Benefits of Visceral Mobilization
Visceral Manipulation offers the ability to detect and correct many imbalances and restrictions in the body. This has both direct and indirect effects. Direct effects include improvements in motion and function, which help to alleviate the source of much pain and discomfort. I have used it with good success in many cases of chronic pain, especially pain resulting from injuries such as auto accidents.
Other direct benefits include improvement in tone, function and fluid circulation of specific organs, and relaxation of spasms in the visceral muscles. Because of this, Visceral Manipulation can be very helpful in cases of hiatal hernia and other digestive system problems.
People undergoing radiation treatments can benefit from Visceral Manipulation, as radiation dehydrates the tissues, and VM helps to improve fluid circulation. VM also helps to dissipate stress in the system and facilitate relaxation.
Visceral Mobilization encourages your own natural healing mechanisms indirectly through its effects on your nervous, hormonal and immune systems. For example, VM is thought to increase serotonin, a neurotransmitter influencing sleep and mood, as well as melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that modulates circadian (24 hour) rhythms in the body, in addition to immune and hormonal activity.
In addition to removing blockages and restoring balance, Visceral Manipulation helps to dissipate stress and facilitates relaxation. Most clients leave a session feeling peaceful and in touch with a deeper part of themselves.
Visceral Manipulation Helpful for Auto Injuries
Visceral Manipulation is one of the top three therapies I would insist on if I were in an accident myself. The others at the top of the list are Lymph Drainage Therapy and CranioSacral Therapy. The next two would be chiropractic and myofascial (muscles and connective tissue) therapy.
I have used Visceral Mobilization and CranioSacral Therapy for several people with auto injuries, and we have all been very happy with the results. These three approaches have allowed me to find and treat problems I couldn’t have touched with chiropractic and muscle therapies alone.
Visceral Manipulation is particularly important in recovery from auto accidents, especially those involving whiplash type injuries. It has been found that the forces entering the body from these injuries tend to travel through the visceral organs, especially those that are fluid-filled, such as the heart. In this way, considerable force can reach the chest and abdominal cavities, creating injuries and scar tissue where it would not be suspected.
Conditions for Which Visceral Manipulation Shouldn’t be Used
While Visceral Manipulation is very safe when properly performed, there are certain situations where it is not recommended.
With the exception of the bladder, it is best not to use Visceral Manipulation with clients who have acute infections of an organ, as there is risk of spreading it to other areas.
Visceral Manipulation should not be performed in an area where a blood clot is suspected. After surgery, only very light work should be done in that area for the first 10-20 days, to allow for adequate healing.
A kidney stone large enough to cause obstruction should be referred for other treatment (this would require an x-ray or ultrasound to diagnose). Blood in the urine would warn against kidney work, unless the cause has been determined and the work is considered safe. Strong kidney pain or presence of a fever would also raise caution of working directly with the kidneys.
Uterine work should be avoided if there is an IUD. In general, it is best to avoid working directly with the uterus just before a menstrual period. Only the gentlest of work is done during pregnancy, except by advanced practitioners.
Interactive Guided Imagery
Engaging a Deeper Wisdom
Dane Roubos, D.C. http://www.BodyMindPeace.com
Beneath the surface of the pond lies another world, unfamiliar to those who dwell above. The rules of the game are different here, another language spoken. So it is with our “non-conscious” minds. Here, the language is symbol and metaphor, and the rules are vague at best.
Our “non-conscious” minds are not bound by rationality or other defenses. Here lies a vast wealth of information and resources. It appears that our “non-conscious” often speaks the simple truth, a practice which is frequently avoided by our conscious minds.
Dreams are a good example, having a mind of their own, and an annoying but useful habit of pointing our true feelings. It is difficult to directly interact with our dream content or have any control over the process, unless we are experienced with Lucid Dreaming. But another tool, Interactive Guided Imagery, is accessible for almost everyone, and is finding broad application in health care today.
The Value of “Interactive”
Interactive Guided Imagery (IGI) is a non dogmatic approach that was created from the blending of a variety of effective techniques by David Breseler, PhD, and Martin Rossman, M.D., who direct the Academy for Guided Imagery in Mill Valley, CA. Their mission is to teach people to access and use the power of the mind/body connection for healing.
It is the “interactive” part that distinguishes this approach from passive guided imagery. In the passive variety, the guide has little or no idea what is really going on with the person doing the imagery.
With Interactive Guided Imagery, the guide gets frequent feedback from the participant as the imagery unfolds, and adapts their guidance accordingly. This allows them to track with the participant’s experience and guide more effectively, greatly enhancing the power of the interaction.
Tapping the Creativity of Our Inner Wisdom
Whether I am guide or participant, I am often surprised by the boundless creativity of our inner wisdom. Our non-conscious minds provide an astonishing variety of images in response to a guide’s suggestions.
A man with a compulsive eating pattern got an image of a cavernous mouth, surrounded by sharp teeth and a ring of waving tentacles. It became very active when he felt anxious.
A woman with recurring stomach pain saw a large fish taking bites out of her stomach. When asked why it was doing that, it replied, “Because you let me!” She had a pattern of putting her own needs aside and focusing instead on worrying about others’ problems.
As a chiropractor and healer, I frequently see people with chronic (long-standing) health problems. My clients often come up with an image that offers insight into an underlying issue that is partly responsible for the persistence of the physical condition. We can then work with their inner wisdom to gain a better understanding of the dynamics involved, and find some creative ways to heal the deeper wound.
Working with the inner wisdom in this way can make a big difference in their response to manual therapy. When a mental, emotional or spiritual component comes to conscious awareness and the person accepts and actively engages with it, real magic can happen.
Lives can change in a gentle but powerful way. Complaints that have resisted treatment for years can dramatically improve or disappear. Two examples will give you an idea of how the process works.
Hip Pain & Restriction
A very fit and flexible woman, whom I will call Sue, presented with pain and restriction in her left hip which had resisted a variety of different treatments over a period of several years. Our first session included a blend of CranioSacral Therapy, advanced soft tissue work and energetic clearing. This immediately restored the lost motion and gave her the first real improvement she had experienced.
But when she returned two weeks later, the restriction had begun to creep back, along with the usual muscle tension and weakness. The energetic blockage had returned, focused in her gluteal area, and the CranioSacral motion in her leg was again reduced.
I invited her to relax and allow an image to form that would represent the problem she was having with her hip. Sue soon replied that she was riding a horse in the “old west.” Further questioning revealed she was a man in this image, riding fast and feeling as if he were being chased. “He” felt pain in his left buttock. I suggested he reach back to see what was happening there. “There’s an arrow stuck in me!” was the reply.
Further imagery led to a resolution of the conflict between him and the pursuing Indians. Sue, in present time, was able to forgive both the Indians and her apparent “past self” for the incident. She felt the man had caused the conflict with inappropriate behavior of some kind.
With the forgiveness, the energy block released, and the physical changes were immediate. The findings improved significantly, and with a little manual therapy her hip had normalized by the end of the session. It took a couple more visits to clear out the more subtle levels remaining, and she had only minor symptoms occasionally over the subsequent six months.
Neck and Low Back Pain
Another example illustrates the power of imagery to create positive change in a person’s life. A young woman, whom I will call Barbara, came in for neck and low back pain. The pain had been triggered by a fall when she was “frantically rushing,” and was getting worse instead of better. She also had a pattern of recurring anxiety in her day to day life.
On the table, Barbara got an image of her boyfriend in her neck. He was very controlling and disrespectful of her, repeating her past pattern in relationships. She struggled with self-esteem and had difficulty making life choices to support her well-being.
Then she spontaneously recalled what she thought was a source point for anxiety and self-doubt. She was about three years old, and had been molested by an elderly man. When she said she was going to tell her grandmother, the man glared at her and uttered a threat. She felt she couldn’t express her truth, and has carried the anxiety ever since.
Retreating to present time, we used IGI to create a “safe place” for her, which turned out to be a beach. We than invited a strong, wise and loving figure to come to her who could help with this issue. When Barbara’s “Inner Advisor” appeared, the two of them journeyed back to support her little girl. She picked her up and, along with her Inner Advisor, went back to the beach, where the healing began.
At the end of the session, she exclaimed, “Nothing is more important than taking care of that little girl and letting her express her feelings!” Clarity and determination resonated in her voice, and I felt she had made a significant commitment to herself.
The next day she ended the relationship with her boyfriend. Then she quit smoking. She is much less interested in spending time with her old friends, who were rather negative and self-destructive. While there was still much to be done, it was the beginning of a new life for Barbara.
Adding a Holistic Dimension
These experiences and others like them from practitioners around the country point to a more holistic approach to chronic health challenges. Modern medicine is beginning to open up to “alternative” methods like Interactive Guided Imagery as it becomes apparent that trying to “fix” people only on the physical level leaves much to be desired.
While technology is helpful, the added dimension of the inner world offers mystery and magic in support of healing at a deeper, more effective level.
Published in “Twin Cities Wellness”
Mpls-St, Paul, MN April 1999
© 1999 Dane Roubos, D.C.
This Evaluation & Treatment System is also called NeuroLink. It was developed by Dr. Allen Phillips, an osteopathic physician in New Zealand. He has taught the system internationally for many years.
It’s a priority-based system that uses muscle testing to scan the body for
weak links in brain-to-brain, brain-to-body, and organ-to-organ communication.
Priority-based means that the most important imbalances are identified and corrected first. This builds a well-functioning foundation upon which subsequent work can rest.
I’ll share a NeuroLink experience with you that really got my attention. My wife, Ariel, and I were spending the winter in the Arizona desert, about 10 miles of bad road away from the little town of Ajo, and 200 miles from the nearest hospital.
She came down with severe lower back pain, mild fever and headache. Any movement exacerbated her symptoms. She could barely manage to use the bathroom, which was right next to the bed. We concluded it was probably meningitis.
We knew what likely awaited her at the hospital, had we made the trip. There would be x-rays and a spinal tap in an attempt to culture the infective organism. She has an extremely sensitive system, and we knew the trip and the workup would have been very challenging for her.
We decided to try this new system I’d learned, called Neurolink. I’d had little experience with it, but it seemed worth a try. The testing suggested that the primary infective agent was a fungus. I gave her a natural antimicrobial brew and two sessions a day of NeuroLink.
She improved each day, and a week later she was standing and walking without pain. What a relief! NeuroLink has continued to be very helpful to her in other ways. It clearly enhanced her brain function and improved several residual symptoms of a previous brain injury.
© Dane Roubos, D.C. www.BodyMindPeace.com
Created in 1988, PSYCH-KTM is one of the senior members of a new group of transformative therapies now being referred to as Energy Psychology. There are six different types of “Balance” processes for different purposes.
After describing a simple, fast and effective process I often use with my clients, I’ll walk you through some fascinating information about the workings of your subconscious mind, and how limiting beliefs find their way into our lives in the first place. At the end I’ll offer a brief description of the transformative Core Belief Balance, which has yielded some amazing results for people.
Practical Application in a Healing Practice
Even with all the different therapies I integrate into my work, some of my clients still have some lingering symptoms after most of the problem has been cleared away. One of my “Aces ” in that situation is the Belief Point Balance from PSYCH-K. Here’s a real-life example of how it works.
A woman came in for her initial visit with sciatica, an irritation of the large nerve traveling down the back of her leg. It had troubled her about 15 years earlier, and now it was back, and greatly limiting her activities.
With her lying on her back, I was unable to lift the involved leg beyond a 45° angle, due to extreme pain. After working with a surgical scar in her abdomen, we achieved a 70° angle before the pain began. This was an amazing process itself, which I will write about in another article.
I had her touch over the area where the pain began, in her left buttock. This made a strong muscle in her opposite leg go weak, and brought the unconscious issue a little closer to the surface. We ascertained that a subconscious belief was involved with another muscle test, (an aspect of Applied Kinesiology).
After getting permission from her subconscious to proceed, I tested a specific series of acupuncture points related to a range of different beliefs, until I found one that was weak. The positive belief associated with that point was, “I joyfully release the past and expect the best now and in the future!” This one tested weak, indicating the subconscious mind did not agree with the statement.
Its “negative” belief partner was, “I hold on for dear life to all I no longer need!” This one tested strong – exactly the opposite of what we would like to be living with. After a brief healing process, we felt a shift and the test results reversed. She now remained strong with the positive statement, and tested weak with the negative one.
She felt like something had changed, but here was the big surprise: I was easily able to raise her previously painful leg all the way up to a 90° angle – straight up from the table, with no pain or resistance at all! It was a joyful jaw-dropper to experience such a transformation after just 30 minutes of treatment.
The entire Belief Point Balance only took about 5 minutes. I checked with her a week later and there was no recurrence – she was a happy camper. It’s not quite this dramatic all the time, but people most often notice some kind of beneficial change with this process.
To some degree for most of us, the body tends to become a battleground between conflicting belief systems of our conscious and subconscious minds. The remainder of this article explains how that comes about, and what can be done about it from a natural perspective.
Also known as “shooting oneself in the foot,” this tendency is well-known to many who have attempted to change their habits or behaviors. The majority of our vows and resolutions pass by the wayside, usually leaving us frustrated and disappointed in ourselves.
Why is it so difficult to change these things? And why do we repeatedly make choices or do things that we know are not good for us? Good questions, to which science has been providing some new answers.
The Power of Our Subconscious Mind
Our subconscious mind is estimated to be 1,000,000 times more powerful than our conscious mind. Our subconscious runs virtually everything in our body without us having to think about it at all.
It also stores our “survival” information – automatic “programs” intended to keep us safe in times of danger or stress. Much of this is valuable and necessary for self-preservation. However, some of its programs may no longer be in our best interest.
If the programming in our subconscious mind doesn’t support the goals of our conscious mind, the stronger subconscious will win every time, frustrating our best intentions to heal or change.
This makes us more vulnerable to things “going wrong” in our lives. And because the subconscious mind runs the body, negative beliefs make us more susceptible to a wide range of physical, mental and emotional maladies. Let’s see how PSYCH-K can increase our likelihood of living a happier, healthier life.
The PSYCH-K process offers some very effective methods for identifying and changing the programming that no longer serves us. We can then create, “install,” and strengthen new beliefs to support our desired outcomes.
The process of discovery and change is gentle and respectful, because PSYCH-K has a built-in “permission” protocol. Nothing is done without your conscious and subconscious consent.
“PSYCH-K is a user-friendly way to rewrite the software of your mind in order to change the printout of your life.”
Robert Williams, Psychologist & originator of PSYCH-K
What is a Belief?
According to the dictionary, a belief is a conviction, trust, or confidence that something is real or true. Our beliefs are basically assumptions we have made about ourselves, others, or the world. Some of these assumptions may be accurate reflections of reality, but many are not.
We perceive the world through the “filter” of our learned beliefs, which are mainly based on our past experiences – mostly from childhood. We learned certain beliefs from our families, school and larger culture. We also created other beliefs from our interactions with peers, and certain life experiences.
One example of a cultural belief that gets passed on is racism, which is a learned phenomenon. Put a diverse group of two or three-year-olds together and they will play. Any disagreements that arise will probably not be based on skin color. That comes later, when societal or parental prejudices begin to filter into their open minds and become unquestioned beliefs.
Subconscious Beliefs Run Like Computer Programs
Our subconscious mind is not some dark, scary thing that’s out to get us. It is actually a survival tool that gives us data about the world around us. It acts like a computer hard drive, and dutifully records whatever is sent to it from our environment.
Young children, up to about age 6, have brain waves in the range that hypnotherapists go for in their work. It’s a highly suggestible (programmable) state. Since children in this age range don’t have the ability to filter out what isn’t true, they absorb almost everything their parents and their culture say.
It goes directly into their subconscious minds, where it will powerfully influence their health, relationships, career, finances, creativity, self-esteem, peace of mind, and more. Since we’re not consciously aware of these beliefs in our subconscious, they act like the man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz, manipulating our life without us knowing it.
Young children carefully observe their environment and download the worldly wisdom offered by parents directly into their subconscious memory. As a result, their parents’ behavior and beliefs become their own.
Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., The Biology of Belief, 2008, pg 133
In fact, science proved long ago that unborn children are highly perceptive of their environment, and have an active emotional life. Psychiatrist Thomas Verny summarized many fascinating research studies in his 1981 book, The Secret Life of the Unborn Child.
“We now know that the unborn child is an aware, reacting human being who from the sixth month on (and perhaps even earlier) leads an active emotional life. Along with this startling finding we have made these discoveries:
- The fetus can see, hear, experience, taste and, on a primitive level, even learn . . . Most importantly, he can feel . . .
- A corollary to this discovery is that what a child feels and perceives begins shaping his attitudes and expectations about himself. Whether he ultimately sees himself and, hence, acts as a happy or sad, aggressive or meek, secure or anxiety-ridden person depends, in part, on the messages he gets about himself in the womb.”
Thomas Verny, M.D., The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, pg. 12
When I was in college back in the early 70′s, I volunteered for a short stint as a teacher’s assistant in 5th grade class. The teacher asked me to help a 10 year old boy with math. It wasn’t long before he told me, “I can’t learn math, I’m dumb!”
Stunned, I asked where he got that idea. He hung his head a little as he said, “My dad says I’m dumb.” Being inexperienced in such things at the time, I attempted to convince him otherwise, but it was useless. He stuck firmly to his adopted belief. It’s a story that’s all too common.
Beliefs Fuel Our Creative Fire
Our subconscious beliefs fuel the engine that powers our creation in life. They color everything we think, say and do. They largely determine how we treat ourselves and each other. On a national scale, our cultural beliefs play a big role in whether we have war, or peace in our world. The war in Iraq is a good example. This is why it’s so important not to accept everything our leaders tell us, and to question their motives when it seems appropriate.
Your beliefs become your thoughts
Your thoughts become your words
Your words become your actions
Your actions become your habits
Your habits become your values
Your values become your destiny
Belief Change Can Be Easier Than You Think
Limiting beliefs keep us stuck in old cultural and familial paradigms – those recurring head-bangers we keep running into in life. We have all tried to change our auto-pilot habits and patterns with our conscious mind, using logic and reason, mostly to no avail.
Habitual patterns are notoriously resistant to conscious reason – remember all those New-Year’s resolutions? There is a simple reason for this. Our conscious and subconscious minds do not communicate directly. They even learn and operate differently. We cannot effectively change our subconscious programs with our conscious minds!
The effects of subconscious beliefs commonly show up in areas relating to money, relationships, self-esteem, health, personal power and loss. Any aspects of our life under the control of dis-empowering beliefs will likely be challenging and frustrating, to say the least.
On the other hand, empowering beliefs can open doors of opportunity in seemingly blank brick walls. Using tools like PSYCH-K, you can choose new beliefs to support rapid transformation of your relationship to nearly any life situation you are ready and willing to change.
“With PSYCH-K, I was able to facilitate many changes with my clients in just a few sessions. Changes that took months or even years to achieve with traditional methods were happening in just three to six sessions with PSYCH-K.”
Robert Williams, Psychologist & originator of PSYCH-K
You could think of this process as a mental “oil change,” but it’s more like an engine overhaul, wherein the weak parts (dis-empowering beliefs and habits) are replaced with strong ones of your own choosing. These new beliefs can now power your “vehicle” in more creative, productive ways.
Core Belief Balance
The Core Belief Balance identifies your primary negative subconscious belief, helps you transform it to the positive, and locks it in. I have consistently seen powerful positive changes in people’s lives after doing this process. Here is one example:
“Having been dealing with an intensely stressful issue for the past year, my inner world was confused and chaotic. I had sunk into a deep depression and could not think clearly enough to see my way out of it. I could only think of ending my life.
“Then I did a Psych-K Core Belief Balance with Dr. Dane. I woke up the next morning feeling like myself again. Ninety percent of the negative thoughts and emotions have cleared away, and I feel I now have the reserves to deal with the outer challenges I’m facing!
“He also taught me a simple process to help reinforce the positive gains I’ve made.”LW, Ashland, OR
Psych-K sessions are $80 per hour, pro-rated. The Core Belief Balance requires about one to one and a half hours to complete. This is the one I recommend starting with, because it clears up a lot of things all at once.
To schedule a session, call Dr. Dane at 541-821-3263
To learn more about PSYCH-K, visit www.PSYCH-K.com.
This approach to releasing chronically tight muscles is based on the work of Moshe Feldenkrais, and was developed by Tom Hanna, a brilliant body worker and teacher in California.
It’s based on the fact that there is a “feedback loop” between your muscles and your brain. Healthy relaxation of a muscle depends on the integrity of communication throughout this loop.
The muscle and its tendons are loaded with nerve sensors that tell the brain what the muscle is doing. The brain has a “sensory” part, which “feels,” and a “motor” part, which “drives” (controls) the muscle.
The motor part of the brain depends on input from the sensory part in order to know how to control the muscle. This is all part of our conscious control of our muscles.
A good flow of information in the loop means there will be appropriate tension in the muscle. In other words, the muscle will be relaxed when it has nothing to do, and contract when it needs to do some work.
Now, here comes the “But . . . “ If something has happened to impair communication in this feedback loop, the motor part of the brain throws up its hands and says, “Oi vey, how can I tell the muscle what to do if I don’t have enough information?”
When the motor part reaches the “Oi vey!” point, the control of the muscle is turned over to a subconscious part in the brain stem. The brain stem, which is the home of our primitive survival reflexes, doesn’t give a rip what the muscle is doing – it just steps in and sets the tension at a particular level.
The result is a set level of tension in the muscle, regardless of what is going on in its environment. In other words, the muscle can no longer completely relax, and the conscious mind is clueless about what happened. Bummer!
So, what does all this intrigue mean to you? Besides making you feel stiff and tight, it also reduces blood and lymph flow in the muscle. This is because the blood and lymph vessels get squeezed by the tight muscle. That leads to an oxygen deficit and a buildup of toxic waste products in the tissue, causing pain, poor function, and greater likelihood of injury.
Do you see how the dominoes are falling here? The end result is a tight, cranky muscle, which can throw a temper tantrum at the slightest provocation. This is often what happens when you bend over to pick up your socks, or turn your head quickly and, whammo – it feels like the spring went “sprong!”
How It Works
Somatic Technique uses breath and awareness as we gently contract and relax the muscle group. The simplest version goes like this:
- Put the muscle you want to relax in a gently stretched position
- With your awareness in the muscle, gently tighten it as you inhale slowly, then hold it for a second
- Feel the muscle letting go as you relax it during your exhalation
- Repeat this basic process about five times, or until the muscle is no longer lengthening
A more advanced version brings the muscle through it’s entire range of motion as you go through the process. Click to see Dr. Dane doing a video demonstration of this technique.
There other things that contribute to muscle tension, which require different therapies for best results. This will be addressed in a future article.
For a great technique for dealing with scar tissue adhesions in muscles, see Active Release Technique.
While I usually prefer the gentler techniques, some people simply need deeper work. Active Release Technique is the best method I’ve found for this. It provides the greatest benefit, while causing the least pain of the deeper methods. ART was developed by chiropractor Michael Leahy.
Intense Upper Back Pain Opens the Door
I first learned about Active Release in 1996, when I was teaching at Northwestern College of Chiropractic. I had developed pain in my upper back around the shoulder blade. It was getting nasty and I had to sleep sitting up in order to avoid pressure on the area.
I sought help from one of the docs in the college clinic, and he soon discovered the primary source of pain. There was an adhesion of a nerve to the muscle on the front side of the shoulder blade (subscapular nerve to the subscapularis muscle for you anatomy officianados).
He was a “no pain, no gain” kind of guy, and it was soon painfully obvious that he was in the right spot. As I moved my arm through the requested motion, an intense, burning pain was “referred” over my shoulder area. (Referred pain comes from one location – the nerve in this case – and is experienced someplace else. It’s a common trick of the nervous system).
The results got my attention nearly as much as that first treatment did. In about three visits, I was basically back to normal. I soon added Active Release to my toolkit after taking a seminar from Dr. Leahy, and studying all his videos in the college library.
Active Release Technique works best for releasing scar tissue adhesions between superficial muscles, fascia or nerves. You can read an enlightening description of scar tissue and its effects in Visceral Manipulation.
There are roughly 150 places in the body where peripheral nerves (away from the spine) can become “entrapped.” This means they get squeezed or tethered down in some way – most commonly by scar tissue adhesions. Restriction of peripheral nerves is a relatively common source of pain that most practitioners are not aware of.
These adhesions usually develop as a result of tissue inflammation due to repetitive movements or strain. The result is called repetitive motion injury, or repetitive stress syndrome. Another term is cumulative trauma disorder. Medicine is great with naming things.
Active Release is very successful for common problems like “tennis” elbow (pain on the outside), “golfer’s” elbow (pain on the inside), and carpal tunnel syndrome (wrist).
Poor Medical Results for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Let’s use carpal tunnel syndrome as an example. This is a condition wherein the median nerve is thought to become compressed where it passes under the carpal ligament in the front of the wrist.
Surgeons came to this conclusion because nerve conduction tests often showed a functional loss at this location – so they sever this ligament to “release” the nerve, by allowing more space in the “tunnel.” Sometimes the problem is here, but mostly this is a mis-diagnosis, and surgery is often ineffective.
“Only 23% of all Carpal Tunnel Syndrome patients were able to return to their previous professions following surgery.”
“Carpal tunnel surgery has about a 57% failure rate following patients from 1-day to 6-years. At least one of the following symptoms re-occurred during this time: Pain, Numbness, Tingling sensations.”
Source: Nancollas, et al, 1995. Jnl. Hand Surgery.
Results from steroid injections are no better:
“Failure rate (Including “partial success” as failure) is 72.6% after 1-year follow up.”
Source: Irwin, et al. Jnl. Hand Surgery
Active Release Technique Offers Relief
There are five sites where the median nerve can become entrapped. One of them is inside the carpal tunnel. The most common sites are in the front of the forearm (palm up).
All five sites can be effectively treated with ART, leading to complete relief of symptoms. This is a good example of the premise that the actual problem is not always where the pain is.
In our rush to explain things we don’t truly understand, we humans are easily fooled by appearances. We are also highly prone to make unwarranted assumptions!
Most humans are creatures of habit. Once an erroneous “convention” becomes established in medicine (or any discipline, for that matter), it takes about 20 years to change course after enough courageous souls dare to face ridicule and declare that the emperor has no clothes.
Of course, the ultimate cause isn’t the nerve adhesions – it is the repetitive strain and movement patterns that gave rise to the inflammation in the first place.
But once the scar tissue is present, it needs to be treated for lasting results. So stopping or changing the activity that caused it, and direct manual treatment of the adhesions is a good starting place.
Contributing Factors to Consider
The following factors may well be parts of the puzzle, and should be at least considered in a holistic workup for any problems with pain or dysfunction:
- Spinal dysfunction causing nerve irritation of the involved nerve
- A nutritional imbalance that promotes inflammation (e.g. fatty acid deficiency)
- A pro-inflammatory condition like diabetes
- Reduced lymph flow in the area
- Previous injury, especially if accompanied by strong emotion
- Stress (especially at work – where most repetitive injuries develop)
- Past history of emotional trauma
- Blocked or weak energy in the acupuncture meridians
Other Uses for Active Release Technique
In addition to nerve adhesions, I’ve found ART to be extremely helpful for nearly any localized pain in the skeletal soft tissues (muscles, ligaments and fascia). I use it most commonly around the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips and knees, with good results.
Regardless of where this or any other technique is used, results can usually be enhanced by evaluating for the contributing factors mentioned above, and addressing those found with appropriate natural methods whenever possible.
How Active Release is Performed
The “Active” component differentiates this technique from the “passive” approaches like deep massage. I’ll take you through an example, using the biceps muscle – the one that weight-lifters like to show off in the upper arm.
The following scenario assumes that an evaluation of nerve, muscle and joint function has already been done to accurately identify problem area.
The doc tests the tissues to locate restrictions in their mobility. Once a restriction is identified, the doc uses their knowledge of anatomy to set up a movement that will take that tissue from a shortened position to a lengthened (stretched) one.
In the case of the biceps, the client would bend their elbow to make it shorter. The doc places a soft, flat contact below the restriction, tractions upward, and asks the client to slowly straighten their arm.
The doc adjusts tissue tension and pressure to maintain a “hurts good” level of discomfort as the elbow is straightened. This action draws the restriction under the doc’s contact, stretching and separating the knotted fibers of scar tissue.
To avoid inflammation from over-treating, no more than three or four repetitions are done on the same area. It is usually better to start more gently with the initial treatment, to gauge the person’s tolerance. Ice can be used after treatment to reduce inflammation, if needed.
Tissue movement is then reassessed, and other tests, like muscle strength are repeated to get a before and after comparison. There is usually a noticeable decrease in pain along with an increase in tissue movement and muscle strength.
The results can be amazing, with chronic pain disappearing in a matter of minutes. This occurs when scar tissue is a primary cause of the pain. There are often other causes, and this is where a good detective doc comes in handy.
Chronically tight muscles can also contribute to scar tissue formation. Somatic Technique is a nifty, pain-free way to relax those tight, tense muscles, and it gives your mind a break, too.