Thursday, April 28, 2016

Being Hypertonic may SOUND cool, but...

...Four reasons it ain't!

An overly tight muscle--one that is hypertonic, or sustained in contraction, is constantly working, which means:

1. Circulation is decreased in a hypertonic muscle, thus it is not getting all that it requires to live a healthy life. This is the start of a slow, painful death to the muscle.

2. An overly tight muscle pulls on bones, joints, ligaments, and other soft tissue, pulling the rest of the body out of balance and out of whack.

3. The muscle is consuming more oxygen and energy than a muscle at rest and producing more waste products which irritate the nerves.

4. Impingement and other painful nerve problems can erupt when hypertonic muscles compress the nerves that travel between or through the muscle. (Take the classic Piriformis Syndrome that produces Sciatic Nerve pain, for example.) This sometimes results in decreased nerve function, paresthesias, altered sensations including pins/needles feelings, and almost certainly pain. 

Got a tight muscle? Don't sit with it too long! Get it worked out ASAP! Self care, stretching, targeted exercises, and of course, massage therapy are all good bets to get you back in balance.

* Learn more with Massage Therapist's Guide to Pathology by Ruth Werner.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Craniosacral Therapy: The General Flow Of It

So you think you’re hard headed?  But did you know that the sutures in the cranium can actually move?  It’s subtle, but after a great deal of research, Dr. William Sutherland (more than 100 years ago) was able to prove the existence of this motion and conclude that it is essentially produced by the body’s inherent life force.

The motion of cranial bones involves a network of interrelated structures and fluids found within the body, particularly those related to the central nervous system (CNS) and its surrounding membranes, cerebrospinal fluid, and the sacrum.  As the song goes, not only is the “ankle bone connected to the shin bone,” but so too the sacrum (or triangular bone located between the lumbar spine and the tailbone) is connected to the “head bone.”

What’s the significance of these motions?

As those familiar with traditional Chinese Medicine are aware, “stagnation brings disease and death.”  The subtle rhythms produced by this network in the body are similarly regarded as expressions of health that carry an essential ordering principle for both body and mind.  When these rhythms are out of balance or stagnant, both body and mind may feel out of balance or unwell, resulting in any number of potential mental or physical ailments, including headaches/migraines, sinus trouble, jaw clenching, tension and muscle contractions, aches and pains, nervous system confusion, sluggish organs, disrupted digestive processes, mental overwhelm, and more.

So how can Craniosacral Therapy help?  

Craniosacral Therapy may help resolve dis-ease and faulty patterns in both body and mind.  By "listening with the hands" to the body's subtle rhythms and any patterns of inertia or congestion, the practitioner can identify areas within the body that may be stuck, needing to unwind, or seeking balance.  By following the lead of the client¹s own physiology, the practitioner acts merely as a facilitator, very gently and non-invasively encouraging the expression of the client’s subtle rhythms, thereby enhancing the body's own self-healing and self-regulating capabilities.

How is it done?  

Holding the intention and remaining deeply present with the client, the practitioner applies a very subtle touch to the client’s generally supine (laying on one’s backside) body--which may be fully clothed.  These “holds” are often applied to the head, sacrum, or other bony structures of the body, and may endure for several minutes.  In fact, it would not be uncommon for the practitioner to alter the position of the hands only five or six times during a 60-minute session.  

What does it feel like?

Quite often, the client will experience a deep sense of calm, relaxation, complete stillness, and even slumber.  With the touch so light and assuring, the client need not worry about pain, pressure, or, quite possibly, anything at all.  The client should feel safe, secure, and at ease during a Craniosacral Therapy session.  If at any point in time this is not true for you, it is essential that you let your practitioner know.  However, when performed correctly, Craniosacral Therapy appears to have no contraindications or adverse side effects, which pretty much means that anyone can benefit from it and walk away feeling no worse for wear--if not amazingly better (the most likely outcome)!



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