Friday, July 20, 2012

It's a symphony.

One of the most common questions I get asked is, "How does my body get out of whack like this?"

Most of my clients come to see me when their bodies have reached a state of chronic pain. This question comes up, interestingly, when they notice improvement after a few sessions. I think perhaps they are realizing they no longer have to feel such discomfort, and are curious as to how in the hell they got into such a painful place to begin with.

Well, as you might have guessed, it is fairly complex. It is very seductive to point to one thing in the human body and say,
"That's it!" Alas, it's not so simple.

At any given moment of any given day our bodies are constantly adjusting to various stimuli internally as well as externally. This can be sleeping patterns, eating habits, stress, anxiety, joy, bliss, and any number of physical, environmental and or emotional influences.

Our bodies, in their infinite wisdom, are constantly trying to reach a state of homeostasis, or balance. It's really quite remarkable. . .

So, everyone everywhere may have a plethora of various adhesions or limitations in their bodies that are barely even perceived during any given day. These restrictions, or
"lesions" in Osteopathic lexicon, come and go...

Yet, let's say a stimuli is perhaps too blunt or is traumatic. At it's simplest point this could be a stubbed toe and at it's extreme end a car accident. From this point on, your body may find it more and more difficult to find ways to compensate to this extreme or somewhat benign trauma.

Eventually, perhaps days, weeks and even months after an incident (bike accident, fall, sitting for prolonged periods of time, emotional shock...) your body will simply run out of ways to compensate.
THEN you reach for the pencil on the ground and your back goes out! "But I was just reaching for a pencil!"

Alas, your body may have been engaging in the simplest of motions, yet your body may have been spring loaded, unable to bear any more discomfort or compensate any longer. 

And then. . . pain gets a foot hold! 

What's Gravity Got to Do With It? 

There is another player in this unfolding scenario that many other modalities don't address: gravity. We are born into the power of gravity and we go out with it as well. It may be one of the weaker forces in the universe, but tell that to your stiff neck.

So, backing up a bit. Let's say a small but important artery near your neck and collar bone, called the Subclavian Artery, gets pinched. The body, as I recently mentioned, will compensate the best way it can to protect this artery.

Why does this happen? Well, it sounds a bit macabre, but your body needs blood flow to your brain more than it needs that shoulder. So, it will recruit all of the outlying musculature to protect this artery. Then, the body will lay out strands of fascia, collagen fibers, to make it even more sturdy. Thus, stiffness...and pain might get a foot hold here.

Gravity. Well, if we lived in outer space, your shoulder would be slightly curved forward and that would be that. Alas, we live here on earth. So, your body will also do what it needs to keep you upright.

So, your body has pulled in somewhat around the Subclavian Artery. Now the body will also compensate to keep you upright. It might begin to pull up and rigidify your Trapezius muscle, so as to lift and somehow balance your shoulder girdle so you don't fall over!

Your Trapezius muscle is not meant to stabilize you in gravity. It is simply meant to lift or lower your scapula. Here is another place you might feel pain. The Trapezius is doing a job it's not meant to do. It too is getting reinforced with lots of collagen fibers, aka fascia. Alas, the nerves that feed this muscle begin to become inflamed and aggravated, and voila! Pain takes hold...

I hope you are getting the picture now.

On and On It Goes. . .

Over time, this orchestration of compensation will continue to reverberate throughout the body.

For example: your shoulder is pulled forward to protect the Subclavian Artery. Your body recruits other muscles to return you to some semblance of vertical alignment, such as the Trapezius muscle.

and then...

your pelvis will perhaps take more load on the left side toward the front to compensate for the imbalance in your shoulder. Again, your body is trying to keep you upright in gravity.

and then...

You start to get hip stiffness.

and then...

Your hip stiffness starts to pinch on the sciatic nerve, and you begin to get pain in your hamstring.

and then...

You look around for my contact information and give me a call! :)


What is to be done?

Rolfing, especially Rolfing using Visceral Manipulation, can help your body find this inherent desire for homeostasis once again and simply help steer your body back on course.

I highly recommend
Rolfing in a pro-active sense. These root causes that I have discussed can be addressed early before your body has exhausted any and all compensatory patterns thus leading one to experience undue pain.

I have clients that come in on a fairly regular basis. During most any given session, I will find areas in their body where they are just beginning to hold undue tension. Where one place could have eventually led to back pain or shoulder pain, we are able to release them, and they not only avoid any discomfort, but feel simply fantastic afterwards.

I also highly recommend a practice of self-care. Something that helps you explore and unwind building restrictions in your own body. Yoga, tai chi, and even simple walking are just a few examples.

Again, our bodies are so very brilliant in their desire to find balance. Sometimes we forget that this inherent movement towards balance simply needs to be nudged along and consistently nourished.

Pain is usually the last foothold for your body. It has reached critical mass.

See if you can find the time and resources to
honor your body every day. After all, it's doing everything it can on it's end!