Wednesday, May 11, 2022

I am continuously fascinated by the body's complexity, deep beauty, and inherent wisdom.  

I am also intrigued by a dynamic that plays out often during a client's first session. It has caught my attention as of late.  I'd very much like to explore this with you.

We all have an inherent need to be seen and heard.  It is absolutely primal.  In my line of work, not only is it necessary for you to be seen and heard, but also tended to.  

Clients usually come to see me to find relief and resolution from chronic pain.  They have usually dealt with this discomfort for an extended period of time.  Perhaps months, years or even decades.

By the time they have come to see me, they have become very intimate with their pain.  

So much so sometimes, they have forgotten what it feels like not to be in pain.

They have come to me for help.  And I'll be damned if I won't try to help them.

Again, it is important to be seen and heard.

Let's say you come in with neck pain.  You obviously want some immediate help.

"The pain is right here in my neck."

I see and hear you.  

Here's where things can get a little tricky.

This is what I have learned over the years . . .

The symptom is not always the cause.

The pain is not always the problem.

My job, as your Rolfer, is not to chase pain around.

My job, as your Rolfer, is to bring your body back into vertical alignment with gravity.

I am always looking at ways to bring your whole body back into balance and alignment.

What this means is, I may or may not work directly on the area that hurts.

What this does not mean, is that I am somehow ignoring or not hearing you. 

On the contrary, I am looking for the deeper underlying factors that are causing your discomfort and pain.  I am looking for ways to help you become more whole and healthy, and consequently, pain free.

There are usually a variety of different reasons why you are experiencing neck pain.  All of which can be addressed.  Your relationship with gravity, the way in which you move, social support, your diet etc.

For this newsletter, let's explore the many anatomical factors that may be contributing to your neck pain.

Lines of tension.

You may have noticed, that at the beginning of each session, I place my hand on the top of your head.  Most every nook and cranny in your body can be felt here.  Any tension, adhesion or laxity reverberates through the cranium.  It is here that we often begin to sense and feel what needs to be addressed.  This is referred to as "General Listening."

Let's say you have come in with the aforementioned neck pain.  You mention that it is sharp and localized, right around the cervical vertebrae of C6 (
in blue).  In particular, on the right side.  (Circled in red).

When looking at your posture, I can see that your neck is being pulled down and to the right as well.

In General Listening I can feel a strong pull from your right lung.  Upon further investigation, we discover that there is a substantial restriction in your visceral pleura, the membrane that surrounds the lung.  Believe it or not, there are a slew of suspensory ligaments that extend from this pleura and attach to your neck!  (The line in 
purple.)  Any restriction in your lung can pull your neck out of whack.  


Back to "The pain isn't always the problem."  

Within and throughout the body are sensory neurons in your body called, "nociceptors."  

Nociceptors respond to damaging or even potentially damaging stimuli by sending signals to your spinal cord and brain...lickety split.  If your brain believes that the threat is credible, it will then send the sensation of pain to the body part.  In this case, your poor neck.  

Here's where things get interesting.

These nociceptors can be found in some areas of your body more than others.  

In this particular case there are more nociceptors in the musculature of your neck than the pleura of your lung.  

In other words, the restriction in the pleura of your lung (very few nociceptors) is pulling on your neck (many more nociceptors.).  

Consequently, "Ouch!  My neck hurts!"  

After releasing the visceral pleura, upon standing your neck is not being pulled down and to the right, and there is less pain.  

But wait, there's more!  

In any given session we are more likely than not to find many different culprits.  All of which can create multiple lines of tension.  This can affect one area of your body more than others.  Let's continue with our hypothetical session . . .  

After releasing the pleura of your lung we find a restriction in your stomach.  Your stomach and your esophagus are pretty much one and the same thing.  Ascending upwards, your esophagus then becomes your pharynx, which attaches to the font of your neck and contributes to any number of cranial cavities.  In this particular case, the restriction in your stomach is creating a great deal of tension in your esophagus, which is pulling down on your poor neck.  (The line in 


Again, not too many nociceptors in your stomach, but plenty in your already overburdened neck.  We release the restriction in your stomach.  Upon standing, you notice that your head feels further back and lighter.  

Then we find an adhesion in your radial nerve near your right elbow.  Nerves in particular are meant to glide and slide and not get stuck.  

Interestingly enough, you mentioned at the 
beginning of the session that your right elbow has been feeling a bit "achy" as of late.  This tells me that there are some nociceptors firing at your elbow as well, but not nearly as much as your neck, which is getting tugged on this way and that.  

The radial nerve originates from C5 to T1.  As you can see, the radial nerve has a direct relationship with your neck.  (The line in 

After releasing the adhesion of your radial nerve, you notice that the range of motion for your neck has improved substantially.

Finally, we are drawn to an area that is much closer to the area of your discomfort.  An artery called the Subclavian Artery beckons us.  (The orange circle).  


Here we find an artery that is adhered to a nearby structure.  The Subclavian Artery is the main root for many other arteries that feed your neck, shoulder and arm.  

After freeing this artery, you immediately feel less pain in your neck.  You also notice feeling more warmth in your right arm and hand.  You mention that your right hand can get cold sometimes.  At the moment, it is feeling warm and "tingly."  

As you can see, there are a wide variety of anatomical structures that, if dysfunctional, can be contributing to your neck pain.  Nor can they be readily felt if they are askew either.

Hopefully this elucidates in more detail what it is I am looking for and working on to help you get out of pain and feel more whole