What is Myofascial Release?
presented by Tia Ramos RMT
Myofascial Release is a very effective hands-on technique that provides sustained pressure into myofascial restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion. The theory of Myofascial Release requires an understanding of the fascial system (or connective tissue). The fascia is a specialized system of the body that has an appearance similar to a spider’s web or a sweater.
Fascia is very densely woven, covering and interpenetrating every muscle, bone, nerve, artery and vein as well as all of our internal organs including the heart, lungs, brain and spinal cord. The most interesting aspect of the fascial system is that it is not just a system of separate coverings. It is actually one structure that exists from head to foot without interruption. In this way you can begin to see that each part of the entire body is connected to every other part by the fascia, like the yarn in a sweater.
Fascia also plays an important role in the support of our bodies, since it surrounds and attaches to all structures. These structures would not be able to provide the stability without the constant pull of the fascial system. In fact, our bones can be thought of as tent poles, which cannot support the structure without the constant support of the guide wires (or fascia) to keep an adequate amount of tension to allow the tent (or body) to remain upright with proper equilibrium.
In the normal healthy state, the fascia is relaxed and wavy in configuration. It has the ability to stretch and move without restriction. When we experience physical trauma, scarring, or inflammation, however, the fascia loses its pliability. It becomes tight, restricted and a source of tension to the rest of the body. Trauma, such as a fall, whiplash, surgery or just habitual poor posture over time and repetitive stress injuries has a cumulative effects. The changes they cause in the fascial system influence comfort and the functioning of our body. The fascia can exert excessive pressure producing pain or restriction of motion. They affect our flexibility and stability, and are a determining factor in our ability to withstand stress and strain.
The use of Myofascial Release allows us to look at each patient as a unique individual. Our one-on-one therapy sessions are hands-on treatments during which our therapists use a multitude of Myofascial Release techniques and movement therapy. We promote independence through education in proper body mechanics and movement, through the enhancement of strength, flexibility, and postural and movement awareness.
Cody graduated from the West Coast College of Massage Therapy, class of 2003, where he obtained a full spectrum of Massage Therapy assessment and treatment skills. Cody is currently completing year three of a five year program at the Canadian College of Osteopathy (www.osteopathie-canada.ca). In 2006, Cody became a certified yoga instructor (classical Hatha, Vinyassa and Power based practice.)
Cody’s current training (at the Canadian College of Osteopathy) is allowing him to further develop his assessment and treatment techniques and fine-tune his palpation skills, enabling him to be more specific and precise.
With the broader knowledge and spectrum of techniques Cody is adding to his practice, he aims to move closer to the truer causes of his clients’ symptoms. His treatments are a global approach to the body. Treatments involve a detailed interview/ history taking, orthopedic testing and assessment as well as the following;
- Structural work, Myofascial release techniques, Muscle Energy Technique, osteo-articular techniques (joint mobilizations), and craniosacral techniques. To restructure and align, addressing holding patterns and improving overall function.
- Therapeutic exercise for rehabilitation, health maintenance and injury prevention.
- Pain and stress management, providing clients with tools to inhibit pain, and empowerment through self-observation.
- Neural re-education techniques to improve kinesthetic and proprioceptive awareness.
Cody is eager and committed to applying his knowledge of yoga, Massage Therapy, and the knowledge he is acquiring in school, to instill self-empowerment and a pro-active attitude towards attaining and maintaining healthy and balanced life habits for his clients.
To learn more about Osteopahty here’s a link that Cody recommends. : http://www.alive.com/8013a20a2.php?subject_bread_cramb=8
October, 2011, Vol. 12, Issue 10
By Neil Gumenick, MAc (UK), LAc, Dipl. Ac
Each acupuncture point has a name, translated from classical Chinese calligraphy, which indicates the unique spiritual qualities of that point and the gift it is capable of delivering to the patient in need.
In Classical Five-Element Acupuncture, points are mostly chosen for their spiritual connotation from the patient’s causative factor meridians.
The causative factor is the one element of the five (fire, Earth, metal, water or wood) which is the primary imbalance and the root cause of the patient’s symptoms. The causative factor is determined by assessing the patient’s odor, color lateral to the eyes, sound of voice and emotional expression. These are the four major pillars of diagnosis. The patient’s symptoms may vary tremendously. Symptoms do not lead us to the causative factor, as once there is a primary imbalance in any of the five elements and their corresponding officials (organs/functions), the imbalance must affect the balance of all the rest. Thus, by the time patients come in for treatment, it is likely that they will be presenting symptoms in multiple elements and organs and all 12 pulses will be imbalanced. Our focus, therefore, is to identify, support, balance and harmonize the causative factor.
Once having determined the causative factor and having removed any and all energetic blocks, we can set about addressing the needs of the patient in body, mind and spirit. I emphasize that we can only reach the body, mind or spirit of a patient if there are no energetic blocks present. It is impossible for any spirit point to deliver its gift if the patient is blocked. Such blocks include possession, aggressive energy, a husband/wife imbalance or an entry/exit block between meridians. It is beyond the scope of this article to expound on these and a good deal of clinical experience and guidance is required to develop the sensory skills to detect them, but the question of a block must always be held in mind if a patient is not responding.
The vast majority of patients we see are imbalanced at the spirit level, regardless of the presence of physical symptoms. To truly and holistically heal, all levels must be addressed. To reach the spirit of a patient, we call upon the spirits of the points.
Reaching the Patient’s Core
I would like to discuss several points on the Large Intestine (Colon) meridian and their spiritual connotations and uses. The Large Intestine belongs to the element Metal, whose functions are, specifically, that of the Lung: receiving the pure qi from the heavens and the Colon and eliminating the waste. The Colon removes more than just the waste of the digestive process. It removes the waste of every organ and function, as well as mental and spiritual rubbish. If this official is doing its job, rubbish will not collect, stagnate and rot. There will not only be a clean body, but a clear mind – able to let go of old “baggage” of the past and take in new and fresh ideas. The patient also will manifest a clean, radiant spirit – able to be inspired, to inspire others and to live in the beauty of the eternal present. Just as metal gives value to the Earth in the form of minerals and trace elements, it gives us our sense of self worth. Keywords associated with the Metal element include: respect, awe, purity, honor, inspiration, value and quality.
The translations of the points that follow are those taught by my teacher of nearly 25 years, Professor J.R. Worsley. I have found, in more than three decades of practice, that these translations capture the essential meanings of the individual points and the context of the element in which they reside.
The meanings are as timeless as nature itself and as needed by today’s patients as those who received them thousands of years ago.
Large Intestine 1 Merchant Yang
Merchants know the value of things. Their success depends on their acquisition and sale or exchange of things people want and need, as well as the elimination of what is old, stale or unnecessary. A “yang” merchant is one who is vibrant and active. There will be no accumulation of rubbish in this merchant’s shop. What will be found there will be of the highest quality, impeccably fresh and clean.
Many patients have accumulated so much rubbish – physically, mentally and spiritually – that they have lost touch with what is innately pure, incorruptible and eternal. Using this point on the metal-imbalanced patient in such a state is akin to cleaning layers of debris from a stone and revealing a dazzling diamond beneath.
Large Intestine 4 Joining of the Valleys
Valleys are low-lying places between hills or mountains. When the rain comes or the snow melts, all the debris that had accumulated on the mountainside (e.g. dead leaves, twigs, fruit fallen from trees, organic waste) falls into these low places and are washed away to the sea. Some of the plant and animal waste will soak into the soil to fertilize and enrich the valleys, which will abound with life as a result. But, that which is toxic and of no use will be washed away. When many valleys are joined, they connect into one vast, cleansing flow from every mountainside – from every official and every level. Many metal imbalanced-patients seem unable to wash away the waste of their own bodies, minds or spirits. As debris collects, they may become physically constipated, but also cynical and negative, tending to see the worst in themselves, others and in life situations. This point, also known as “The Great Eliminator” has the ability to flush out the stale and toxic within, allowing for inspiration to occur.
Large Intestine 5 Yang Stream
A stream is a body of water, moving with a current, confined within banks. As such, it has a specific direction and flow. The yang aspect adds the qualities of warmth, light and activity. This is the fire point of the meridian. Fire controls metal by melting and softening, making it malleable. Like metal that has become cold and inert, many metal-imbalanced patients have become hard, immobile, unable to bend, attached to the past, holding on to shame, guilt and unworthiness. They become unable to let go of that which binds them. This point, used at the right time, encourages release – direct, active and with a good measure of humor, love and compassion – the warmth of fire. In many cultures, the ritual of baptism is a rite of purification – a symbolic washing away of that which defiles and compromises our perception of our true selves as pure, incorruptible spirit. Using this point is akin to immersing the patient in need in these divine cleansing waters.
Large Intestine 6 Side Passage
This point, the junction (or Luo/Connecting) point of the meridian used for its spiritual connotation can be used to prevent backup of waste as it is eliminated. It is rather like the cleaning out of an old closet where, on the way to the trash bins, the garbage is temporarily piled in the nearby hallway. Before long, the hallway becomes so filled with trash that it is jammed tight and nothing can pass through. What is needed is a “side passage,” providing another way out. It might happen that as we treat the Colon official and it begins its job of eliminating accumulated waste from every level that things get stuck. This point can be used with such patients to unclog the jam, reestablishing and reinforcing the movement and flow of elimination.
Large Intestine 11 Crooked Pond
This point, the Earth point of the meridian, brings the qualities of groundedness and stability to the process of elimination. Letting go can be a fearful prospect to a patient who has become identified with attachments of the past, old ways of thought, beliefs, opinions and assumptions. Being held securely in the loving arms of the mother, for many might be the best and most comforting encouragement for the letting go to occur.
The image of a pond again gives the image of water. One of water’s principal qualities is to cleanse. “Crooked” implies the ability to bend and move in different directions. All of the old waste must be cleansed in order to be mentally and spiritually free – not just that with which one is comfortable in eliminating. One cannot be truly free and still hold to those attachments to which one feels especially entitled or identified. It is like asserting, “I want enlightenment, but I want to hold on to my anger. I have a right to be angry. Damn right, I do!” True, perhaps, but in continuing to hold that old resentment, one is in a prison of one’s own making and freedom is but an idea, not a reality. “Crooked Pond” can reach those hard-to-reach places, smooth out sharp edges and help ease the way to rediscover the beauty and clarity within.
Click here for more information about Neil Gumenick, MAc (UK), LAc, Dipl. Ac.
Acupuncture for Healthy Skin
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be very effective at treating skin conditions. Treatments can provide quick relief for acute symptoms and can provide significant and lasting relief from recurrent or chronic skin conditions.
The skin reflects and reacts to imbalances within the body’s internal landscape and the effects of the environment. Internal disharmonies caused by strong emotions, diet, and your constitution as well as environmental influences, such as wind, dryness, dampness, and heat can all contribute to the development of a skin disorder. To keep your skin healthy and beautiful on the outside, you must work on the inside of your body as well. Increasing the flow of energy, blood and lymph circulation improves the skin’s natural healthy color.
General skin conditions that can be treated with acupuncture and Oriental medicine include acne, dermatitis, eczema, pruritus, psoriasis, rosacea, shingles and urticaria (hives). Oriental medicine does not recognize skin problems as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual.
Acupuncture is a traditional medicine that’s been practiced in China and other Asian countries for thousands of years. Its proponents say it can do everything from relieving pain to bringing a general sense of wellness. Others think the only benefits you get from acupuncture are in your head. Recent studies have found that both sides may have a point. Acupuncture can be effective for certain health problems, such as some types of chronic pain. But how it works is something of a mystery.
Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points on the body. The methods can vary, but the most well known type in the United States is the insertion of thin metal needles through the skin. At least 3 million adults nationwide use acupuncture every year, according to the latest estimates.
Acupuncture is part of a family of procedures that originated in China. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the body contains a delicate balance of 2 opposing and inseparable forces: yin and yang. Yin represents the cold, slow or passive principle. Yang represents the hot, excited or active principle. Health is achieved through balancing the 2. Disease comes from an imbalance that leads to a blockage in the flow of qi—the vital energy or life force thought to regulate your spiritual, emotional, mental and physical health. Acupuncture is intended to remove blockages in the flow of qi and restore and maintain health.
Researchers don’t know how these ideas translate to our Western understanding of medicine, explains Dr. Richard L. Nahin of NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. But the fact is that many well-designed studies have found that acupuncture can help with certain conditions, such as back pain, knee pain, headaches and osteoarthritis.
“In many research studies, it’s clear that if you’re comparing acupuncture to usual care, the acupuncture group almost always does better,” Nahin says. The problem, he explains, is that when researchers have compared acupuncture to carefully designed “control” treatments, the picture becomes more complicated.
Well-designed clinical trials need control groups—people who get a sham or simulated treatment called a placebo. Placebos might come in the form of a sugar pill or a saline injection. They give researchers something to compare the real treatment with. But designing a placebo for acupuncture is a challenge.
“I don’t really think you can come up with a great placebo needling,” says Dr. Karen J. Sherman, an NIH-funded acupuncture researcher at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle.
For example, when researchers have compared inserting needles with just pressing a toothpick onto acupuncture points, they’ve often found both treatments to be successful. But Sherman questions whether these are really controls. Many traditional acupuncturists would consider them true treatments, too. The important thing, in their view, is to hit the right spot, not necessarily how deep you go.
Another option for a placebo would be to test a different location. But Sherman says that would be inappropriate for treating pain because acupuncturists traditionally needle tender points. “To me, there’s no place on the back, if you have back pain, where you can say you have a great control,” Sherman says, “so I don’t think that’s a really solid idea.”
Further complicating things is that acupuncture treatments are about more than just needles. “There’ll be needles,” Sherman says, “but there’ll probably be other things they do in the course of the treatment. Acupuncturists will talk to you in a particular way. They might give you dietary advice or exercise advice that stems from a non-Western theoretical construct. They’ll try to engage you in your own healing. They might give you a different model for thinking about your health.”
“It’s hard to design placebo-controlled studies of acupuncture when we don’t understand what the active component of the intervention is,” explains Dr. Richard E. Harris, an NIH-funded researcher at the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Treatment for pain is the best-studied aspect of acupuncture. Many parts of the brain are connected in the processing of pain, and how much pain you feel partly depends on context. “If a person has an injury in battle, they might not feel it,” Sherman explains, “but if they have a similar injury just walking down the street, they might just think it was dreadful.”
“If you look at some of the data, what you find is that sham acupuncture and true acupuncture both produce some pain relief in whatever condition they’re looking at,” Nahin says. “But while both treatments turn on areas of the brain, they turn on different areas of the brain.”
Harris and his colleagues, in studies of fibromyalgia patients, have found differences at the molecular level as well. “We were able to show that sham acupuncture and real acupuncture both reduced pain in fibromyalgia patients equally,” he says, “but they do it by different mechanisms.”
If acupuncture truly works by a different mechanism than sham acupuncture, Harris says, then they’re not the same thing, even if they both help relieve pain. Harris and others are now trying to get to the bottom of what acupuncture is actually doing. Their ultimate goal is to see if other treatments might pair well with acupuncture to reduce pain better than either alone.
Should you try acupuncture? Studies have found it to be very safe, with few side effects. If you’re thinking about it, talk to your doctor. “We tell people they really need to talk to their primary care provider and discuss whether acupuncture is a viable option for them,” Nahin says. “While you could go to an acupuncturist independent of a medical practitioner, we feel that an integrated approach to care is always the best approach.”
“Find somebody who’s dealt with your problem before,” Sherman advises. “Talk to the practitioner about your specific situation and then see if it’s something you can live with because it might not be the right treatment for you.”