Manual Medicine is an osteopathic approach that works directly on a particular structure to encourage it to reset itself, whether it be a joint, nerve, blood vessel, muscle, tendon, or ligament.
The pressure is very light, about the weight of a nickle, since that's all that's needed for the sense organs to respond. There is more precision in this method, as the information
given by the practitioner is targeting a specific system in order to have an effect on a particular area, for example opening the pressure on a particular nerve to release a certain muscle group, or stimulating a particular tendon to release the compression on a specific joint.
Everything in the body is alive, responsive, and intelligent!
The more dense parts of the body like soft tissue or bone are all collagen, forming along a continuum from very soft, pliant types of tissue, to the more stiff forms of support like bone. Bone can easily become compressed with heavy use, especially the bones of the hands, feet, sacrum, and legs.
With the right type of contact and 'conversation', even compressed fixation within bone can soften, broaden, and lengthen. There can also be a great effect on the spaces between the bones, no matter how small and limited the space for articulation may be.
Because of the way the body is interwoven with itself whatever is given even marginal degree of motion is interdependent with its neighboring joint and tissue for that motion to happen freely
If you've ever had a jammed sacro-iliac joint or metatarsal joint, you know how important it is for these tiny areas to be able to move freely. If not, the neighboring areas will also begin to limit their motion, which is one of the causes of what we notice as 'stiffness'.
There are many subtle, small connections between the ribs and the spine that can easily become compressed by the work that we do with our arms. There are so many small muscles adjacent to the spine that can often be triggered to tighten when a small joint nearby has become fixated.
Because they wrap around to the front of the body and have numerous muscular attachments, fixation at a rib head or intercostal compression can effect many areas simultaneously. These types of triggers may perhaps be more quickly and more easily addressed directly by manual therapy.
In this and other cases, specificity goes a long way. The other modalities address the system from a more indirect, integrative perspective, working to reconnect the parts to the whole and support each note playing in harmony with the whole body of music.
This method, also known as NeuroTherapeutics, was developed by a French physician who is also trained as an osteopath, Dr. Bruno Chikly. It is gentle, non-invasive (involving almost no pressure), and profoundly relaxing.
Along with listening for subtle rhythms in the brain and spine, it helps to calm or open nuclei of the brain and spinal cord that may show signs of stress or imbalance which are also responsible for homeostasis within the system. Once the systems responsible for maintaining balance are calmed and restored, it's much easier for the symptoms there or anywhere else in the body to dissolve.
For example, there are specific nuclei in the brain that are activated in the stress response and muscular tension in the back, neck, and shoulders can often be connected to stress. If the areas of the brain that are involved in the stimulation of chemicals that provoke the stress response are settled, then the corresponding muscular tension will very naturally ease off and will be much more responsive to massage techniques.
In this way there won't be double messages in your body, with one set of messages from your brain telling it to be excited and tense, and another set telling it to relax before the brain has relaxed. This method goes hand-in-hand extremely well with the biodynamic cranial work.
WHAT CAN IT HELP?
It's not commonly known that an early injury can have an effect on a person's entire life.
This scan of a 32 year-old woman who was rear-ended by a truck changed her personality causing depression, irritability and memory loss. The left prefrontal and temporal lobes were impacted, causing reduction of brain tissue in those areas without change in the symptoms for 14 years.
In another case where the same lobes in the brain were impacted, the symptoms were very different. A 79 year-old man who ran into a pole in his 20's had been irritable and aggressive ever since. We often only consider the physical ramifications of an accident and aren't as familiar with the emotional and cognitive aspects of post- concussive syndrome or whiplash.
Some of the more common characteristics of brain injury are anger, irritability, and poor impulse control. If left untreated or misdiagnosed and not attributed to the head injury, the mood and temperament of the person can be altered for their entire life.
There are many places where forces of stress, injury, surgery or emotional trauma can land in the body; the brain is just one area where the undischarged force can be reflected.
Other symptoms that can be served by this approach include difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, postural imbalances, hyperactivity, PTSD, and most conditions related to stress.
Biodynamic Cranial Sacral Therapy
The Biodynamic method was developed by A.T. Still in the late 1800's and made popular in this country by his potege', Dr. William Sutherland, who began intro-ducing his concepts to the greater osteopathic community in the 1930's. It differs from the structural approach in that it doesn't attempt to make direct, manual adjustments to the musculo-skeletal system.
Instead, the biodynamic approach waits for the inherent intelligence of the system empowered by the life force instilled in everyone by a higher power to open, balance, and correct itself. Still and Sutherland saw the fluids in the body as carriers of this life force, the original blueprint of the body's dynamic design, and the organizing principle that knows what to do with it since it built it originally.
Water can permeate just about everything, and there is evidence to support the fact that it can also give shape to the form as well as carry forces, imprints and information that shape the form. A simplistic example is comparing it to when a boat is trying to reach harbor in a storm, it's much easier when the waters are calm, and in the same way it's also much easier for the body to acknowledge and address the changes that need to happen if its fluid systems are calm and balanced.
Biodynamic Cranial involves a touch and a way of relating to the system like that of handling a small infant - with delicacy, loving presence, and clear support. In that relationship, the child knows it can open and relax.
From a space of safety and support, clarity and knowledge- able intention, there can more easily be a recognition of where the system needs to act on itself. With that understanding, the forces holding the symptoms in place can more easily be contacted and resolved.
EVERY CELL IN DYNAMICALLY INTELLIGENT AND RESPONSIVE!
It might be a new concept to realize that fluids can change their shape based upon the frequency of a thought or of music.
We know that we react differently to different words, sounds or attitudes, so it's just another step into realizing that those energies leave a finger print in a major substance inside of us!
The image on the left is the response to, "I hate you". The coherent organization and inherent beauty is completely lost if not disregulated. Imagine some-thing like this happening inside in hearing those words - this could be the fluid equiva-lent of feeling 'sick to your stomach'.
Japanese researcher, Emoto demonstrated exactly how water can and does reflect, store and transmit thoughts and their intentions. Notice how striking the change in the organization and beauty of the water's response here to a beautiful folk song, compared to the pollution of negative thoughts.
We can easily translate these same reactions inside ourselves depending upon the thoughts we expose ourselves to, whether from within our own minds, from movies, food, music, or those around us. We 'are what we eat' in this sense! Our fluid bodies deliver information, energy, and nutrition to our cells.
The biodynamic method helps to optimize and reset the ability of the fluid systems to open and flow more naturally and freely, and to help it to remind itself of the original pristine nature of the fluid within that system as it carries the essence of our spirit with its inherent health throughout the body.
Coherence is one of the keys to homeostasis. A system that can communicate effortlessly with itself and its environment can easily retain adaptability, resiliency, and balance. Love is one of the most coherent frequencies in the universe.
The body is constantly changing based upon its interactions with itself and with others. Some Ancient systems believe that being out of sync with those larger or higher forces that actually animate the body can also be a source of dis-ease or discontent.
On the other hand, restoring the connection to that spiritual force which gives life to the body can be the main support if not the source of healing. This is the source of potency - the Breath of Life - that flows through the fluids permeating tissues and bones, nerves, organs and glands that can help restore health and well-being from the deepest place. This technique is helpful for almost anything!
Holding the space as a practitioner in biodynamic work is like sitting quiety, listening, sensing, and being a nurturing presence for a plant to grow. It already knows how to progress - the blueprint is inside of it to do it perfectly, yet the right environment, sun, water, and fertilizer are still very important components for the plant to prosper.
In a similar way, many small yet significant changes are happening 'underground' during our lives as well as during a therapeutic process that need gentled stillness to fully blossom and manifest in the physical realm.
NeuroMuscular Reeducation is the means whereby the somatic educator sends messages to the body's tactile/kinesthetic (proprioceptive) communication system so that these cells can tell the brain to change the muscle.
There are three main phases of a neuromuscular session. The first phase is a mirroring phase where- by the tissue is brought to neutral by mirroring what it's already doing.
This releases shock and guarding and opens the system to something new. The second phase is passive motion whereby the somatic educator introduces touch and movement that stimulates the sense receptors that awaken the brain to the activity there and gets it to notice the area.
The third phase is the active motion portion when the client participates by using conscious movement to both awaken the brain and to overcome the inability to feel or control the muscle. It also helps mobilize muscle cells to increase the numbers of nerves firing to the muscle to increase strength and coordination. Stretch sensitive spindles become activated and their signals enable greater length in the muscle.
An important part of what happens in the feedforward process during the active movement phase of the session is that the change in the position of the joint signals the brain to change the length of the muscle in order to maintain the joint position.
Like driving a car, the body can follow a map if you assist in removing the road blocks, let it know the current location, establish the route to the target location, and direct traffic along the way. Once it's forgotten it's way, you have to act like it's the first time in order to learn again how to get there.
In a similar fashion, as your body travels that route enough times, it knows how to get there and will store the route and get there without much attention to it in the future.
For change to happen in the body, it needs to know where it is and to know where it's going. Part of how that informa-tion is transmitted is via the positioning and placement of the bones.
The other part is sensing movement or the change in its position. As the practitioner moves the body with the intention of changing the length of a muscle group, the body is told where to go and how to reset the muscles in order to get there. Repitition helps to reinforce the path of action and store the change.
For the brain to be able
to notice changes and store them, the body must be in motion, or the
awareness must be keen and sensitized enough to move to the area and
activate it by touching it with awareness alone. Otherwise the brain
will simply recruit the muscle patterns that are already filed and
override the desired change.
The retraining process is easier with a therapist or somatic educator because when you try to lengthen a muscle on your own, the body automatically excites a stretch reflex where it'll pull back against your stretch to protect the joint. Including passive and active motion to lengthen instead of just pulling on the muscle to stretch it is more effective.
NeuroMuscular Reeducation techniques and principles combine well with any other method of bodywork. It's tremendous for pain patterns, to alleviate spasm and inflammation, and to open and awaken numbed out areas while training them to work in concert with the rest of the system again.
How Do I Choose Which Method to Use?
It's possible to have a session that is within one service for the entire time, or to combine them depending on what your body would benefit from the most. In general, it's best to open and balance the system before asking it to reeducate or retrain what it's been doing.
Beginning with a softer approach, even within the same session, will help your body to open more into the deeper layers that may be the source of the issue. Once your body has allowed itself to trust the process and include more of the dimensions that it functions on, it'll be much easier to create a change on the surface where the pain or tension reflects the issue.
Starting out with brain/spine integration or biodynamic cranial is recommended for long- standing or deep-seated issues. Otherwise try a combination of the softer styles with manual therapy or deep tissue. If you want to prevent issues or enhance performance, use NeuroMuscular and Awareness Through Movement.