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Reminder: When a bulleted notation appears in parentheses, it is my comment or opinion as opposed to the author's.
From “The Complete Illustrated Guide to Shiatsu” (1998) by Elaine Liechti
The author is/was director of the Glasgow School of Shiatsu. While well-intentioned, the book is overly general for our purposes.
- The early/ancient development of medical techniques in China followed two main branches. The northern method, where climate was colder and vegetation more sparse, leaned toward acupuncture, massage and moxibustion. The southern tradition of the Yangtze River region was more likely to include herbal treatments.
- The methods began to blend under the Han Dynasty (200 BC to 200 AD) when China was more unified politically.
- More than any other teacher, Shizuto Masunaga has wielded more worldwide influence in promoting shiatsu outside of Japan, especially with the publication of his Zen Shiatsu in 1977. (Outlined elsewhere on this literature review.) His methods have gained the most acceptance in the Western world.
- Zen shiatsu requires the direction of finger/thumb pressure to be perpendicular (90 degrees) to the body to allow effective access to the body’s Ki. (Note how Buckminster Fuller demonstrated that life’s essential work often occurs at 90-degree angles, contrary to our expectations.)
- Two essential aspects of Ki go by the names of Jing and Shen (Chinese terms). Jing, which approximates our ‘constitution,’ resides in the kidneys. Shen, translated as soul or spirit, resides in the heart.
- One of the seven principle emotions of Oriental medicine is that of ‘overthinking.’ Another basic emotion, anger, affects the liver.
- Rather than thinking of a meridian as a pathway attached to an organ, we should look at the meridian as a concentration of a particular functional energetic quality of the body. Where it reaches its most intense point, there it creates a physical organ to carry out that function.
- The Triple Heater has been the subject of much scholarly debate for hundreds of years. The term is a rather unimaginative translation of “Three burning spaces,” referring to the three central charkas: the heart, solar plexus, and hara.
- Does the tsubo feel empty and unresponsive? In this case it is kyo and needs to be tonified (buffed up), encouraged to fill up with long slow holding. If a tsubo feels tight and full it is expressing a more jitsu quality and may need to be sedated with faster, more dynamic pressure. By balancing out the feel in individual tsubo, the entire meridian is equalized and reintegrated into the body’s energetic system.
- A classic tsubo to work in the case of one-sided migraines is Liver 3, beneath the webbing of the large and adjacent toe. (This spot is also known as Great Surge, and it’s also been described as “hoku of the foot,” hoku of the fist being one of the most primal of acupoints.)
From “SportsMassage” (1980) by Jack Meagher and Pat Boughton
1980 appears to be a benchmark year for massage publishing, ushering in a New Wave of material and awareness. The year also saw the publication of Gordon Inkeles’ groundbreaking “The New Massage.” The major weakness of Meagher’s approach is his over-reliance on static and fixed relief-points that can be numbered and located on charts, as opposed to a highly attuned palpation that finds trigger points in an informed manner that allows for a degree of intuition. With the title, Meagher's publisher also succumbed to that annoyingly trendy 80s-style trap of combining two words into one. For years, if not to this day, this book was required reading before earning a massage license in New York, though it's certainly not the knock-down, definitive, final word in the topic.
- The massage regimens of the ancient Greeks were designed as protective, performance-boosting mechanisms. The massage we know of today is emasculated in comparison and it’s seen as more of a restorative technique. (Proactive vs. reactive)
- Per Ling’s techniques quickly became popular among Swedish cavalry officers who were exhausted from spending long hours on horseback.
- The main author, Meagher (pronounced Mar) asserts that his methods will give you 20 percent greater performance and protection for not only your next game but for the length of your career.
- A key index of less-than-optimal performance is when your timing is off.
- Professional athletes exist in a constant state of overextension of their muscular and nervous systems.
- Muscle contraction is a normal condition. A muscle problem is little more than an exaggeration of this condition.
- Rest in itself will not undo a full-blown lesion (a very broad term, but Meagher was writing well before the concept of trigger points came into vogue).
- Inflammations produce edema, which includes a thick fluid that acts as a healing agent. Unfortunately, this fluid can act as a mild form of cement, binding tissue fibers together. Muscle relaxants won’t get to the heart of the matter, and if you go on playing you’ll develop ancillary spasms.
- In contrast to edema, sports massage produces a hyperemia that lasts for several hours, long enough to foster a deeper relaxation of the spasm.
- Strength is a function of muscular contraction. However, full coordination and power rely upon an additional factor: full relaxation in addition to the contraction.
- Athletes who are “sat down” by their coaches in order to rest and recuperate don’t always regain full function. Rest in itself doesn’t fully work.
- Why does athletic ability diminish over the years? A main reason is that maximum effort laid over old and unresolved injuries leads to a critical mass of microtrauma.
- The “weak link” in the circulatory system is when blood filters into tissue fiber before being reintroduced into the venous system. This is the “combat zone,” headquarters for nutrition and cleansing. Sports massage aims to assist this interchange at the capillary level.
- Relaxation can be defined as a lack of restrictive tension, particular in musculature.
- We generate contraction easily. Full release and relaxation is a far more difficult matter, so this skill-set deteriorates first.
- Fibers at the ends of muscle have less elasticity and thus break down faster. It’s here where we concentrate our efforts.
- If you don’t get rid of the ashes, eventually the fire goes out. This sums up the Law of Mass Action. Substitute “ashes” for lactic acids and you have a recipe for generalized fatigue over large areas of the body. Too much lactic and too little oxygen lead to the condition known as glycolysis.
- Short of creating discomfort, apply as much force as you can. (There is professional disagreement on this point, including that of Chaitow.)
- Cupping produces more noise than value. (It has its place.)
- Effleurage is low on our list of priorities.
- When we experience nervous pressure and tension, the first muscle area to react is the rectus abdominis. Spasm here can lead to over-reliance on antacids. Nervous tension also affects the upper trapezius.
- Very few people pay attention to prevention until they’ve undergone a prolonged period of physical distress.
- The underlying cause of a muscular problem is the development of a spasm situated at its origin. This goes against common wisdom. (Current prevailing theory places the spasm more at the belly of the muscle.)
- You don’t want to stretch this spasm, you want to do the opposite: shorten and broaden it without straining the attachment point. Five or six minutes of deep (transverse) friction can bring immediate relief that can last up to four days.
- Elbow pain is caused by the inflammation of the tendon of origin of the forearm extensors. (Of course, there is high-level professional disagreement on this point, but Meagher is one of the earlier writers, apparently, to expound on the concept of referred pain, and for this he deserves much credit.)
- The basic Meagher recipe for spasms is direct pressure, cross-fiber friction, and then compression of the entire muscle in question.
- Average golfers say the game is one of concentration. Top flight golfers have concentration nailed down; they’ve mastered the art of shouting down outside distractions. Concentration is fine, but what really counts is shutting out that which would prevent your ability to concentrate.
- Lower back pain can be sourced to the hip, and the stress point is located atop the iliac crest, lateral edge.
- (The author likes to also use the term Sportsmassage as a verb as well as an adjective, and a performer is known as a sportsmasseur.)
- One session can bring a degree of relief, but long-term results may require a few sessions.
- A person with a big rear-end is “well upholstered.”
- A stress point can feel like a hard, unripe grape beneath your finger.
- Charley horse: a strain of the quads.
- In professional sports, there’s an unwritten rule that you don’t seek outside help against the advice of your trainer. You don’t move beyond your inner circle. (The author wonders aloud for whose benefit many of these “rules” are written.)
- A groin-pull is the granddaddy of all sports-related injuries. Don’t settle for someone taping you up. (Groin pull = tear of an adductor muscle.)
- Failure to relieve secondary lesions (satellite trigger points?) leaves you open to the possibility of recurrence.
- It takes about ten minutes of pressure-friction-compression to reestablish a normal range of pain-free motion.
- The mantra is: decrease resistance to movement. That’s how you increase spontaneous performance.
From “Understanding Sports Massage” (1996) by Patricia Benjamin and Scott Lamp
Except for a few bright moments of massage history, this thing falls apart at the seams. It’s heavy on the weak generalities and often reads like a textbook for high school freshmen or perhaps a dime-store doctoral thesis, meaning it’s drier than the Arizona desert.
- Although sports massage was commonly used by trainers and athletes in the first half of the 20th century, it had virtually disappeared from the sports scene in the U.S. between 1950 and 1980.
- A mini resurgence began in the early 1970s, traced to the 1972 summer Olympics in Munich. That’s when runner Lasse Viren, known as “The Flying Finn,” set a world record time in the 10k and an Olympic record in the 5k. It was learned that as part of his training routine, Viren received deep massage daily. Viren was actually the second “Flying Finn.” The first was Parvo Nurmi, who won five gold medals in one day in 1924 with only a 30-minute break between events. Nurmi credited much of his success to his personal massage trainer.
- In the early 1900s in Australia, H. Joseph Fay established himself as an authority on massage within a sports context. He noted that American and Swedish athletes were open to the idea, and he voiced frustration with British athletes who seemed less inclined. Fay noted that British sports massage techniques were more superficial in application, and thus less efficacious. He insisted that massage must be both vigorous and systematic. Fay also refers to the “electric effect of the masseur,” an early awareness that energies are being transferred. (See Fay’s Scientific Massage for Athletes, 1916)
- According to the towering figure who goes by the name of Dean Juhan, we must resist the tendency to focus our attention upon localized and predictable effects. We must always strive to include ever broadening and more complexly interrelated processes in our ways of thinking and working. In other words, we’re here to generate context rather than to manipulate content. (Job’s Body)
- Also according to Juhan, we never release a single muscle, but rather we increase a range of motion that involves several, or many, separate compartments. (p. 113)
- It was James Cyriax who championed the idea that deep transverse friction is the best way to break up interfibrillary adhesions.
- Early research by the Italian physiologist Angelo Mosso (1846-1910) helped establish that muscle fatigue was largely a chemical process that involved the production of toxic substances such as carbonic acid. Mosso concluded in 1888 that "work done by a muscle already fatigued acts on that muscle in a more harmful manner than a heavier task performed under normal conditions." Muscle can no longer contract properly. In 1891 Mosso published the paper La Fatica (Fatigue), in which he asserted that fatigue helps destroy our ability to even think clearly. Mosso’s work was partly inspired by the social injustices inflicted upon the working class as Italy was amidst its transition from an agrarian to an industrial society.
- Early research by Mosso and a colleague, one Professor Maggiora, helped determine that a remedy for this fatigue is to foster increased circulation to the affected muscle. (Cited in R.T. McKenzie, Exercise in Education and Medicine, 1915.) These early findings are corroborated by the Russian V.I. Dubrovsky in his study of Soviet athletes (1982).
- As an aside, a Russian technique that involves laying the palms over the back, with the therapist standing centered over the client’s head, has been termed “faltering effleurage.” The hands are held stiffly as they briskly alternate their movements up and down the back, almost as if you’re paddling water doggie style. The intent is to calm the nervous system, apparently, and the technique was promoted in the Chicago area by the late Zhenya Kurashova, who once worked closely with Soviet athletes.
- (In a sports-oriented massage, one of our goals is to help produce a null/balance point within our friend on the table, approaching a state of 'nothingness' of sorts.)
- According to Cyriax and Cyriax (1993), when it comes to applying deep transverse friction, it is the friction itself that is paramount, not the pressure.
- Finger pressure that’s point-specific probably overstimulates nerve receptors at any particular location, temporarily “turning them off.”
- Recent studies have raised serious questions whether PNFs are more effective than static stretching.
- Crepitation: the subtle noise produced by bone rubbing against bone or cartilage, as can be found in arthritic conditions.
- The YMCA offered training programs for masseurs well into the 1960s.
- Force in itself cannot induce a muscle to relax (Juhan).
- Trigger points can distort proprioception (spatial orientation).
- The Roman physician Galen (130 to 200 AD), felt that massage within the context of physical exercise affords an additional layer of security against fatigue.
- One of the first books written entirely about sports massage was Massage in Athletics (1947) by Albert Baumgartner, a former trainer at the State University of Iowa. Baumgartner wrote that “a good massage is half of the athlete’s preparation,” and that a vital part of an effective massage is to instill confidence. The type of masseur Baumgartner wrote about largely disappeared by the 1960s. Baumgartner’s work was influenced by the Russian J.B. Zabludowski, professor of massage at the University of Berlin (turn of the last century), who was influenced by a Bulgarian monk named Makari while working in a field hospital.
- Working in loose collaboration with Mosso, apparently, or at least aware of his work, Zabludowski made this discovery: Normally at about five minutes after exercise, muscles recover their working strength by about 20%. But if you were to substitute five minutes of massage for the five minutes of rest, you could achieve a recovery rate of 100%, or more. (This finding was also reported in the U.S. around the same time, so it was an idea whose time had come. It has also been discussed in the academic literature by the preeminent Victorian doctor Thomas Stretch-Dowse.)
- As per correct pressure over a trigger point, remember when you tried to erase a mistake on a piece of paper: Too little pressure and you don’t erase, too much and you tear through the paper. In this context, a little extra pressure, that which produces a “good hurt,” hastens recovery time.
- "After a hard race or other contest it is a matter of common knowledge among trainers that a five-minute treatment will enable an athlete to repeat or continue a performance otherwise impossible.” (R. Tait McKenzie MD, Exercise in Education and Medicine, 2nd edition, 1915)
From “The Complete Guide to Joseph Pilates’ Techniques of Physical Conditioning” (2004) by Allan Menezes
The author runs an institute in Sydney.
- Tennis players usually generate their force from their arms and shoulders. They would be better served by including the abdominals in their motions.
- Abdominal control is preferable to abdominal strength. It’s the control that provides fluidity of movement from the center.
- The abdominal area is often defined as the second spine.
From “High-Performance Sports Conditioning” (2001) edited by Bill Foran
- As scar tissue ages it contracts.
- The tensile strength of muscle is about 80 pounds per square inch. That of tendon runs 8600 to 18,000 pounds per square inch.
- Many of the muscles contributing to quickness are relatively small: lateral and medial rotators, adductors and abductors. (Adductors are small?)
From “Massage for Sport Performance” (2011) by Michael McGillicuddy
The author teaches sports massage in central Florida. The writing style is wooden and there are gaps in the logical sequencing, but McGillicuddy appears to be the real deal, at least in the character department. The relative lack of deep theory is disappointing, leaving us with little more than a recipe book at times. This is fine if our intention is to become an effective clinician, but let’s aim for a higher standard in our careers and choose mastery instead.
- A proper application of sports massage techniques can increase your game performance 20%. It will protect you (presumably from injury) an extra 20%. Not only that, it can extend your season by 20%. Not to be outdone, it can extend your career by 20%. (Source: Jack Meagher, pronounced ‘Mar’, Sportsmassage, 1985) [The 1980s trend of combining two words into one was annoying then and even more annoying now, demonstrating the vacuity of superficial trendiness.]
- One of the key goals of sports massage is to help the client experience an effortless range of motion, for limitations in muscular efficiency tend to show up at the joints first. (The body of knowledge we call “sports massage,” in my opinion, is so under-delineated that it’s nice to find a goal-oriented benchmark such as this.)
- A shallow or held breath is a key indicator for stress.
- A sports masseur, referred to here as a ‘trainer,’ needs to focus and visualize his/her intent. The recipient, a.k.a. ‘athlete’, will detect (we would hope) this focus in the trainer’s hands.
- A supple muscle can contract more efficiently.
- Lateral rotators in the shoulder (infraspinatus, posterior delt, teres minor) are always weaker and tighter than the medial ones. The medials are generally more flexible as well. It’s this pre-existing imbalance that often contributes to pain and stiffness in the rotator cuff area. (This point is the major contribution of the book, and it’s fine food for thought. These pre-existing strength imbalances occur elsewhere on the body as well. For instance, the quads are a stronger group than the hammies. When the hammies tighten up, the grip of the quads can overwhelm them, leading to a season-shortening pull.)
- As with other professional fields, an experienced trainer can determine the quality of another trainer’s touch within seconds.
- A good trainer can sense when muscle tissue has that “plastic feeling.”
- The benchmark point of a warm-up is perspiration.
- A good pre-event routine includes shaking/rocking the arms and shoulders. (Maybe this pulls excess ki downward and helps get the athlete “out of their heads.”)
- After an event, let the client cool down. Once they settle down, only then can they hop on the massage table. (Apparently if you watch the Kentucky Derby you’ll never see the horse head right for the winner’s circle. The jockey will make a victory lap first to cool the horse down.)
- After events of longer duration, you can catalyze the healing process most effectively with compressive effleurage. (The dreaded F-word.)
- Inhale first, then exhale as you stretch. The common tendency is to actually hold one’s breath when stretching.
- The author calls attention to the likelihood of post-event cramping, but curiously does not mention the application of PNF techniques. However, their long-term advisability is not universally recognized to begin with.
- Compressive effleurage increases localized circulation by encouraging the release of histamines. These in turn vasodilate the walls of capillaries.
- Keep in mind that some recipients of massage can exhibit an allergic reaction to certain oils and lubricants. (Neutrogena body oil is one known source of nasty reactions.)
- Cross-fiber friction does have a track record of breaking up minor scar tissue on muscle (but wait at least three weeks before attempting this – give the scar tissue time to solidify).
- The author inadvertently affirms the following principle of learning:
Technique without rationale = no retention.
- The author mentions shin splints, a term that some in the profession consider a “wastebasket diagnosis” (aka “trash-can diagnosis.”) By this they mean the term is overly vague and all-encompassing, as can be ‘fibromyalgia’.
- Of the four quads, the one that receives the most complaints regarding pain is the vastus lateralis. This muscle, the largest of the quad group and running primarily on the outside portion of the leg, is highly susceptible to trigger point activity.
“The hen is the wisest of all the animal creation because she never cackles until after the egg has been laid.”
- Abraham Lincoln
From “Fascial Release for Structural Balance” (2010) by James Earls & Thomas Myers
An outstanding approach with profound potential. Occasionally loses focus by getting bogged down in technique. Get ready to have a multitude of concepts thrown at you from various angles simultaneously. As always, how do we extract the juice from this thing in order to facilitate enhanced understanding? . . .
- There are limitations to thinking of muscles as separate, discrete units. Think also of the fascial component surrounding each one.
- Like muscle, fascia can exert a contractile force.
- Bones can be seen as floating ‘spacers’ for the myofascial webwork. We encourage clients to ‘relax into’ this floating condition, a function of body expansion. This will improve joint and even cellular function and may even offer emotional/psychological benefits.
- Interstitial: related to interstices, or spaces between tissue or parts of an organ. Also can refer to a unit of time, or even an intermediary (and often unwanted) web page, perhaps because it contains an ad.
- Correct use of body weight, rather than force, takes annoying tension out of our point of contact with the client.
- The foot’s cuboid is shaped more like a keystone. (Keister?)
- Plantar tissues are bowstrings – or a triangular trampoline -- supporting the arch.
- Sometimes it pays to think less and intuit more (and the authors, I’m sure, are well aware you can do this only after intense study and preparation).
- Crural: from the Latin crur, for leg.
- The retinaculum (fibrous network of fascia) is the “third skin” of the body.
- An intrinsic muscle is contained wholly within an organ or limb; an extrinsic extends beyond.
- Cruciate ligaments of the knee cross (as in ‘crucifix’) at the center of the knee joint.
- Quads and hammies are wider at the proximal end. Vice versa for the adductors and abductors.
- Penniform: shaped like a feather, as the Latin word was ‘penna’, hence the origin of the word ‘pen’ which was originally a “feather pen”.
- (Definition of ‘putative’: accepted as true on dubious or inconclusive grounds, as in “reputed”.)
- Aspera: narrow ridge, from the Latin for 'rough' or 'uneven'.
- Periosteum: a dense fibrous membrane covering the surface of bones (except at their extremities) and serving as an attachment for tendons and muscles. From the Greek peri and osteon meaning 'surrounding-bone'.
- Labrum: a lip-shaped edge, rim or structure, as where the femur meets the hip joint.
- Ida Rolf placed prime importance on balance within the hip structure, especially since instabilities here make themselves known elsewhere in the body.
- Many of the hip muscles are triangular in shape.
- The acetabulum, or hip socket, means “little vinegar cup.”
- Innominate: having no name; half of the pelvis.
- When confronted by a ligament, we need to gauge: What movement does this restrain?
- Piriformis is certainly a rotator, but even more so it’s a stabilizer (maintaining a steady position so other muscles can do their work). Think of the two piriformi as one structural unit whose aim is to maintain the vertical status of the spine.
- The gemelli and the obturator (a muscle that’s deceptively large) together with the pelvic floor act as a shock absorber system for the hip joint. (If you think that’s no small matter, try riding in a car with bad shocks.)
- The iliacus is the “structural cousin” of the subscapularis.
- The authors briefly mention the “sensori-motor amnesia cycle,” a sort of unconscious autopilot that should be brought to fuller awareness in an individual. For instance, the brain might “think” a certain muscle is relaxed when in fact it’s excessively contracted.
- Notice how the femur forms the number 7.
- Politely refrain from telling any jokes while engaging the psoas (ha ha ha). The psoas teems with physiological and neurological significance.
- The iliac fascia can sometimes bind the psoas major and iliacus together (maybe that’s why it’s sometimes considered a single functional unit).
- For all practical purposes, the fascia lata is continuous with the obliques. Similarly, the hammies are continuous with the erector spinae. (This is one of the stronger elements of the book: displaying in concrete terms the interwoven nature of the myofascial continuum.)
- The pelvic floor and the transverse abdominis (deep to the internal oblique) often co-contract. Rectus abdominis also provides a (more obvious) connection to the pelvic hammock.
- The major tether for scapular movement is the pec minor. (In everyday usage, the word tether basically means ‘leash’)
- Quadratus lumborum acts as an ‘extension cord’ that connects the diaphragm to the pelvis. However, it’s the scalenes and intercostals which are the prime assistants to the diaphragm’s free movement.
- If the neck had a quadratus lumborum it would be called the middle and posterior scalenes. If Mr. Neck had a psoas it would be the anterior scalene.
- The suboccipitals tend to shorten in moments of fear.
- The diaphragm is an umbrella that moves like a jellyfish. Anatomy class might have you picturing it as a horizontal unit, but the prime fibers mostly act vertically. (So there.)
- The fascia of the rectus abdominis is continuous with the SCM (placing the SCM within shooting distance of the pelvic floor, as it were).
- Did anatomy class teach you that the spine is a series of vertebrae with discs in between? Isn’t it really the other way around . . . one long disc with the vertebra as spacers?
- A spine in balance is a tensegrity structure where the bones essentially float over each other. (An integral aspect of such structures is that they offer maximum strength within minimal space. If I read correctly, when properly aligned each disc (or shall we say the fascial units connected to it) provides ‘lift’ for the disc below it. Herewith we may find at least one explanation for the ‘floating on air’ sensation that some massage clients report.)
- Septum: a dividing line so to speak, comes from the Latin word for fence. When one comes across the word ‘septum’ it’s hard almost not to think of septic tank or even SEPTA (Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, serving greater Philadelphia).
- In a machine or structure, the purpose of a strut is to hold things apart, and as a result it’s often subject to compressive stress. In the body, one such strut is the clavicle.
- To one side of the scapula we find the rhomboids, to the opposite we find the serratus anterior. Think of these two muscle-sets as one myofascial ‘sling’ that helps the scapula float in place (or act as a counterweight).
- Mobility, as in the shoulder girdle, requires corresponding stability.
- Teres minor is about the size of a pinkie finger. It’s a tether (leash) for the humerus (here, doggie doggie).
- The precise layout of serratus anterior can be quite confusing.
- Some texts suggest asking the client to “breathe into a spot”, or some variation on that theme. This book takes that step one better, asking the client to “breathe into my hand.”
- Don’t EVER prescribe to a client, not even a vitamin.
- Never label a condition. Leave that to someone who’s actually been through medical school.
From “Acupressure & Reflexology for Dummies” (2007) by Synthia Andrews
Displaying at least 50% fluff and filler, this is not the strongest output from the Dummies series. The title promises a look at two complementary bodywork approaches but comes up short on both, inadvertently pointing out limitations of the Dummies format. Andrews is on the faculty of the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy. She’s backed up by a “professional writer” whose ego and attempt at superficial trendiness drowns out the message and whittles down its authority.
- First five words: “Face it. Life is stressful.” (Bad start.)
- “Never try to force results. Daylight can’t come until night is over.” (We know that, and we can all write it more imaginatively as well.)
- “Qi is everywhere.” (The gag-meter is now cranked up to an 11.)
- “Without life force, your cells would be, well, lifeless!” (If we wrote this way on a college paper we’d get expelled.)
- Eunice Ingham (an early developer of foot reflexology) was a “massage therapist.” WRONG. There were no “massage therapists” in the period referred to here, namely the 1920s and ‘30s. The expression was virtually unheard of until the mid-1980s, though I’m willing to be corrected on this point if necessary.
- “You can’t have a mountain without a valley.” If that’s not good enough, try “Morning only comes when night is finished.” Any more pearls of wisdom, author and co-author-san?
- Acupressure recipients may experience a miniature jolt at times, an indication that a nerve synapse, sitting on the threshold of activity, has just been nudged over the top.
- A core component of muscle is elasticity; of tendon, strength. The muscle/tendon junction offers less of each, making it the weak point of the structure in biomechanical terms.
- Fascia is more conductive than nerve tissue.
- The gallbladder meridian plays an active role in headaches.
- Some 85% of trigger points lie on acupoints.
- Eunice Ingham was a “physical therapist.” (Did she suddenly change careers?)
- Kyo points are typically located “downstream” from a blocked jitsu point. (Note that on the front of the body, “downstream” would generally be “higher.”) For a strong discussion of kyo and jitsu, see “Zen Shiatsu” below.
- Three key signs a point has released: 1) a pulsation; 2) change in temperature; 3) the spot feels less tender to the recipient.
- The Kidney and Bladder meridians are associated with the colors black and blue. The color red is associated with the Heart and Small Intestine lines as well as the Heart Protector and the Triple Warmer.
- This book's laundry list of acupressure points and their effects is a clinic in non-workability.
- All points in the head and neck are yang points and tend to bear excess energy. (Worth noting.)
- In convoluted language, the author tries to make a case for associating bodywork “practitioners” with quackery.
From “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Massage (Illustrated)” (2007) by Victoria Jordan Stone
Not especially informative. Even newcomers deserve a more in-depth treatment. Simplicity is a wonderful virtue, but this one barely makes it past the stage of simplistic. However, we do find at least six solid points:
- Our digestive system is more susceptible to stress than is our nervous system. The stress response shunts blood flow away from digestive organs.
- Adrenaline produced by stress may also lead to emotional instability and anger.
- Fascia not only shortens with age, it thickens.
- Because of the possibility of allergic reactions, stay away from nut-based oils.
- Vibrations help “confuse” musculature.
- With pregnant women, stick to effleurage below the knees. No thumb or finger work.
- (The jury is still deliberating whether the enclosed one-hour video is of much value, even to newcomers.)
From “The Acupuncture Response” (2002) by Glenn Rothfeld, MD
By and large a rather pedestrian effort, lacking in intellectual inspiration and aimed at garnering favor, typical of many of the pop-health books on the market.
- Traveling with President Nixon on his groundbreaking trip to China in 1972, New York Times reporter James Reston suffered an attack of appendicitis. Doctors there alleviated post-operative pain with acupuncture techniques, and Reston wrote about this treatment in the pages of Time magazine. For many Americans, this was their first exposure into this ancient system of health restoration and maintenance.
- It was Jesuit priests who introduced acupuncture to France. (They’re also credited with coining the very term after returning from Beijing and Macao in the 1500s and 1600s.)
- The kidneys are regarded as our most essential reservoir of chi.
- ‘Type A’ personalities tend to sit forward in their seats, as if they're ever anxious to “get on with it.”
- Sleep disturbances can be a function of blockages in the liver channel, beginning at the base of the large toe. These blockages can stem from lingering frustration or anger.
- (It is interesting to note the number and variety of conditions that are said to lead to insomnia. It appears to be one of Hans Selye’s “catch all” terms.)
- The most frequent form of energy imbalance is stagnation, and common sites or locations are found in muscle.
- Because of its ‘emperor’ status, many practitioners treat the heart channel indirectly.
- Triple Heater ends on the temple, where Gallbladder picks up. (If I’m correct in my understanding, this suggests a “jump over” point similar to those found in fingers and especially the toes. Now we can better appreciate working the temples.) In part, the gallbladder is associated with gumption.
From “Reflexology: A Practical Introduction” (2000) by Denise Whichello Brown
The insight provided, despite good intentions, is rather minimal. Based on her resume, she would not be my first pick to write a book on the topic.
- Notice how the lateral edge of the foot corresponds to the major joints of the body: knee, hip, elbow, shoulder. The bony prominence at the base of the little toe corresponds to the shoulder. (A bunion can form here and might be called a “bunionette” or “tailor’s bunion.")
- The author here treats us to a new term (at least on this side of the Atlantic): housemaid’s knee. This expression refers to a pre-patellar bursitis.
- Garlic has been referred to as “nature’s antibiotic.”
From “Acupuncture for Everyone” (1987/2000) by Dr. Ruth Kidson
Fortunately this British physician makes the point that acupuncture is certainly not to be practiced by just anyone. Clearly written, demonstrating strong analytic and organizational skills. The practice of acupuncture is far beyond our scope, though of course its principles are highly pertinent.
- The prefix acu is Latin for “with a needle.”
- In 1991 a body was found atop a glacier in northern Italy at an elevation of some 10,000 feet. The body (named Oetzi), well preserved in the ice for some 5,000 years, showed indications that it suffered from arthritis in the hip and back. Tattoo marks on the body indicate the man was treated with acupuncture techniques (particularly along his bladder meridian).
- We’re treated to a wonderful history of early Chinese medicine in a succinct yet informative style rarely seen in print.
- In 1864, Sir James Young Simpson, a professor of obstetrics in Edinburgh, published a paper regarding acupressure and its role in accelerating the healing of wounds.
- In 1957, the London physician Louis Moss, publishing in The Lancet, noted how the treatment of certain “trigger points” gave some patients permanent relief from arthritic pain. The location of these points matched up well with traditional acupuncture points.
- It is commonly accepted that about 381 main acupuncture points exist on the body. This number is not so far removed from the 365 points recognized 2,000 years ago in the Nei Ching (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine).
- Sometimes the symptoms of a malady appear to stem from a certain meridian. But in fact, sometimes the chi blockage is occurring in the meridian that most affects it – its “mother meridian.” This situation is known as the “screaming child syndrome,” and the child will go on screaming until nourished. If this child is not tended to, its child may begin to show signs of discontent.
- In a similar fashion, a master/servant relationship exists whereby the servant may rebel if the master meridian is supplying either excessive or deficient ki.
- Regarding energy flows, a highly deficient meridian can take adjacent meridians and “suck them dry.” Conversely, an overly charged meridian can rev up associated meridians to unacceptable levels.
- As noted in other sources, anger is associated with the liver. Grief and melancholy is stored in the lungs. Fear lives in the kidneys, which are the seat of willpower. (Can it be suggested that in order to normalize the flow of chi through our kidneys we can ramp up our practice of benevolent intention, which has been described as one of our least developed faculties?)
- The seat of the mind/spirit is the heart.
- Yin and yang are not things in themselves. More accurately they denote the balance or ratio between two aspects of a whole unit.
- A deep rooted internal condition, such as high fever, might have to be “traded in” for a lesser and more external condition, such as a mild rash, before the symptoms finally disappear entirely.
From the journal article “Structural Integration”: Gravity, an Unexplored Factor in a More Human Use of Human Beings, by Ida Rolf; Systematics, vol. 1, no. 1 (June 1963)
The value here is learning the theory and philosophy of a system and how this informs technique in practice.
- In her article, Rolf namedrops Wilhelm Reich, Moshe Feldenkrais, Elsa Gindler, and F.M. Alexander, all of whom have been visited on this literature review.
- Various visceral functions can be negatively affected through restrictions of the
vagus nerve (which can be accessed aside the neck).
- Fascial limitations impede emotional expression. The individual is no longer acting ‘in the moment.’ He’s now at the mercy of pre-existing attitudes (which I’m reading here as synonymous with prewritten scripts, a.k.a. tapes).
- An approach from a person’s structural rather than behavioral side gives quicker, and in some ways more predictable, results.
- The critical evaluation of gravity as a supporting and uplifting force in the life of man has received little consideration. (Note that Rolf’s father was a civil engineer; her husband an electrical engineer.)
- Muscular balance has a broader and more urgent significance than mere coordination. It is the outward and visible sign that vital communications are functioning freely. Communication, in this sense, refers to the actual flow of body fluids in their role of transmitting metabolic and hormonal substances, as well as to the free transmission of nervous currents. Muscular balance indicates that the actual expenditure of energy made by the body in the course of any physical work -- walking, running or manual labor -- is minimal. Under these conditions, work is being performed with the least effort, with less drain on the body’s energy.
- After many years of observation I (Rolf) have come to this conclusion: no situation exists in a human which a psychologist would diagnose as a feeling of insecurity or inadequacy, unless it is accompanied by a physical situation where the gravitational support is inadequate. Evidence of its absence appears as impaired function within the body systems (digestive, circulatory, etc.).
- Gravity is a positive and not a negative force.
- When restrictions are diminished, our consciousness tells us we feel “lighter.” (This backs up the ‘floating on air’ sensation some people report after a massage.)
- Invariably he (a recipient of Rolfing) is conscious that he is turning out a good deal more work with less expenditure of effort. Sometimes he is aware, too, that his relations with people, his family and friends, have shown improvement, or that he is handling the situations which arise in his day-to-day affairs with greater ease.
- The head is no longer controlled by the muscles which attach superficially to shoulders or clavicle, the sternocleidomastoid, etc. Its rotation is now accomplished by deeper muscles nearer the spinal vertebrae, for instance the splenius capitus.
- Strength equates with resilience, not with the outmoded, over muscled, relatively immobile heroes of the football field or boxing ring. These muscle-bound idols of an earlier generation were already past their prime at the age of thirty. The demands and privileges of our day require that we maintain our ability to adapt to a rapidly changing world through many more years.
- Thickened, more stolid physical bodies pose barriers to awareness. In a body like this, our attention gets trapped within ourself; our awareness is minimized. Our experimental results clearly suggest that the release of such bulkiness permits the emergence of a more aware individual.
- A few notes by and about Rolf from other sources:
- Get the system sufficiently resilient so that it’s able to change, and it will change. You have to avoid forcing at all costs.
- The message of Gurdjieff, and Ouspensky who followed him, was that it didn't matter what you did as much as how you did it. Many years ago in a Sunday newspaper I (Rolf) saw a picture of an Olympic race. Among the first four contestants, what stood out was that the winner was displaying ‘good form’ and all of the others were operating out of desperation. The front runner could have carried on a conversation all the time he was running. This is form.
- Fascia is the organ of posture. Nobody ever says this; all the talk is about muscles.
- We so organize the body that the gravity field can reinforce the body's energy field. This is our primary concept. This is the gospel of Rolfing.
- When the body gets working appropriately, the force of gravity can flow through. Then, spontaneously, the body heals itself. As people come to Rolfers with their aches and their pains, we can see where their bodies are literally offering blocks to the gravitational forces. The gravitational force is immense and their resistance is relatively weak: the best it can do is close the body down, compress it. Sometimes the block has been put into the physical picture by a physical trauma. This block is in the actual structure, in the flesh of the body.
- The result of this re-posturing and alignment with gravity: the body becomes fluid with the forces of gravity rather than straining against it. Such fluidity greatly increases the efficiency of the body, giving the athlete the reserve strength and power for when they need it.
- For an easy demonstration of strain and gravity and alignment, hold a broomstick or similar object straight up. You’ll notice that when the broomstick is perfectly vertical you can balance it on a fingertip. The broomstick is in equipoise -- balance with gravity -- and supporting it takes little or no effort. (Analogous to the mental state of equanimity.) Tilt the broomstick even 15 degrees away from vertical and you’re forced to hold it firmly in your hand, your forearm muscles contracting to hold the broomstick against the force of gravity. Holding the broomstick for more than a few minutes makes those same muscles sore, manifesting the strain that is forced upon them. The further you tilt the broomstick away from the vertical, the more strain you feel in your arm and hand.
- Some individuals may perceive their losing fight with gravity as a sharp pain in their back, others as the unflattering contour of their body, others as constant fatigue, yet others as an unrelentingly threatening environment. They are off balance, they are at war with gravity.
- More from Rolf:
This is an important concept: that practitioners are integrating something; we are not restoring something. This puts us in a different class from all other therapists that I know of. It takes us out of the domain designated by the word "therapy," and puts us in the domain designated by the word "education."
- The gravitational field of the earth is easily the most potent physical influence in any human life. When the human energy field and gravity are at war, needless to say gravity wins every time.
- For the full article, check out: Structural Integration
From "The Muscle and Bone Palpation Manual" (2009) by Joseph Muscolino
The author is an instructor at the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy. To make optimal use of this ponderous "instruction manual," complement your reading with interactive web research the moment any unfamiliar term crops up. It’s a satisfying way to learn at a deeper level in a manner that fosters long-term retention of information, and it's the source of most of the comments in parentheses that appear below.
- Says the author, this book “will easily take the place of three or four books needed in your library.” (Which ones?)
- Treat individual trigger points for about a minute each.
- (The word fossa comes from the Latin for “ditch.” Think of it this way: fossils are often found in ditches, or fossae, and the name origin may be the same.)
- The word ligament comes from the Latin for bandage, as in to bind.
- It’s OK to palpate the SCM in pincer fashion. (Not exactly a new point, but worth reiterating.)
- (The word hyoid comes from Greek for ‘shaped like the letter upsilon’ (U). Why don’t massage books discuss this way of remembering? Why do they leave it up to us?)
- (The word splenius, as in splenius capitis, comes from the Greek for ‘patch’ or bandage. Picture the splenius capitis as a patch or bandage under the trapezius, crossing it at perhaps a 45 degree angle.)
- The best known muscle of the neck is the upper trapezius. However, the largest muscle of the neck -- also thicker -- is the semispinalis capitis.
- Says the author, “the referral patterns of suboccipital trigger points must be distinguished from the referral patterns of trigger points in [other muscles of the neck]”. (Perhaps so, but we don't intend to stop in the middle of a massage and refer to charts.)
- (Meaning of temporalis: 'of or related to the temples.')
- (Origin of word pterygoid: From the Greek for 'shape of a wing,' as in the flying dinosaur pterodactyl.)
- (Sphenoid: 'Having a wedge shape.' The bone is said to resemble a butterfly or bat in flight.)
- (Ramus = 'branch', as in branch of the mandible. A ramus is a projecting part or elongated process. A ramus is also the barb of a feather.)
- (Masseter comes from the Latin from 'lump' or 'mass')
- (Digastric = 'two bellies')
- Tight facial muscles pull overlying skin and fascia in toward them, in a perpendicular direction to the fibers. (Understanding often works in perpendicular direction to the data presented, but that's another matter.)
- (Mastoid comes from the Greek mastos meaning 'resembling a breast.')
- (Risorius: from the Latin risus, meaning laughter, a movement this small muscle assists.)
- (Buccinator: from the Latin for 'trumpeter.' Sometimes called the whistling muscle.)
- (Maxilla: from the Latin mala for cheekbone.)
- (Zygomatic: from the Greek zugon, or yoke. Also called the cheekbone or even yoke bone. Forms the zygomatic arch, which resembles the yoke used to harness oxen.)
- (Mandible: from the Latin for 'to chew,' as in 'masticate.')
- (Ulna is Latin for elbow.)
- (A tendon allows a muscle to transfer its power over distance. An aponeurosis is "tendon lite," composed of strong fascia.)
- The biceps brachii is not very wide.
- (Coracoid: from the Greek korax meaning crow, as if the coracoid process resembles a crow's beak.)
- (Anconeus: a small muscle immediately distal to the elbow, for which the Greek word is 'ankon', suggesting 'angle' or 'bent', as of course in the word ankle.)
- (Styloid: from the Greek 'stylos' as in pillar; a stilus was also a type of pencil used for writing on wax; today a stylus is also a phonograph needle.)
- (The pea-shaped pisiform bone of the wrist comes from the Latin pisum for 'pea'. The pisiform is a sesamoid bone. By definition, these bones form within tendons, usually where they pass across joints. The word is derived from Greek and means 'resembling a sesame seed.')
- (Clavicle: from the Latin clavis meaning 'key', a reference to its shape, probably at the acromio-clavicular joint. A con-clave, meaning "with key", is technically any meeting within a room that can be locked with a key.)
- (Condyle: rounded surface, a.k.a. speedbump, on a bone that allows movement of a joint. From the Greek for knuckle or knob. The prefix "epi-" equals 'upon' or 'above,' as in epitome. Therefore an epicondyle is a projection upon a bone, above a condyle, serving as an attachment point for muscles and ligaments.)
- (Pollicis: the Latin word for thumb is pollex, coming from a verb meaning 'to be strong.' Among the fingers, the thumb is the strong one.)
- (Phalanx: This is the word for the ancient Greek line of battle which was composed of close and deep ranks and files of infantry. The bones of the fingers are arranged in ranks or rows reminiscent of this formation.)
- (Lunate: crescent shaped, as is the bone, you lunatic.)
- (Scaphoid: a wrist bone that resembles a small boat, or skiff, from the Greek skaphe, meaning something dug or hollowed out. The bone is also called the navicular, from the Latin for "little boat," a word that of course contains the source for 'navy.')
- (Quadratus: a four-sided figure, ergo a square or rectangle, seen today in that word for the part of some campuses known as "the quad." Notice how square the pronator quadratus of the wrist appears. It takes a little more imagination, however, to square up the quadratus lumborum, but geometrically speaking it's still a quadrilateral.)
- (Olecranon: The Greek word for elbow is 'olene' -- similar to the Latin ulna -- and 'kranion' is 'head', as in the second syllable of migraine. Hence the olecranon process is the head of the elbow.)
- (Thenar: from the Greek verb 'to strike,' and the thenar portion is the part of the hand we strike with, the fleshy prominence at the base of the thumb.)
- (It does remain one of life's great mysteries how we can will a precise motion in a muscle and have it happen as soon as the thought occurs, if not sooner.)
- (Hamate: this carpal bone is wedge-shaped with a hook-like process. Therefore, when a massage book refers to "the hook of the hamate," aren't they really saying 'hook of the hook'?)
- (Hamstring: 'ham' originally referred to the fat and muscle at the back of the knee. Of Teutonic origin, the word originally meant 'crooked', as is the joint. The strings are the tendons above it, calling to mind a butcher hanging a ham in the window by the strings, like they still do in Chinatown with poultry.)
- (Lumbrical: The ancient Romans called a worm a lumbricus, and indeed these finger muscles operate in wormlike fashion.)
- (Retinaculum: You can trace back the word 'retain' to this Latin source, and a retinaculum helps retain a tendon, or even an organ, in place.)
- (Acromion: the Greeks called the shoulder the omos, and their word for peak was akron, as in that glorious Ohio city. So over time, akron-omos morphed into acromion, the peak of the shoulder blade.)
- (Multifidus: 'multiple divisions' or 'multiply splintered.')
- It can be challenging to discern the muscular divisions between the three spinae erectors: the iliocostalis, longissimus and spinalis.
- (Laminar groove: a lamina is a thin sheath, as in a lamination.)
- (Transverso-spinalis muscles basically connect and stabilize the vertebrae, as opposed to the erectors which help maintain proper extension of our tent pole, a.k.a. spinal column.) Trigger points here can contribute to sciatica.
- (Although the author uses [overuses] the word 'palpate' several hundred times in this book, leading to a type of palpation-fatigue, the question arises: Does the author really 'palpate'? Palpation is not the same as clinical touching and probing, which is 99% of what this manual offers. In time, a working definition of 'palpate' must evolve into a sense of 'getting' and 'empathizing' with the client and what their body wants to say.)
- Trigger points in the rectus abdominis can lead to heartburn.
- (Rectus = ‘straight’, as in di-RECT-ion)
- (Oblique = ‘neither perpendicular nor parallel'; in other words, slanted; similarly, oblique comments are not straightforward)
- The muscle fibers of the external obliques run in similar fashion to the pocket on a winter coat – [which we’re assuming is stitched in at an angle.] (Hurray! An interesting point! What took so long!)
- Trigger points in the psoas major may entrap the genitofemoral nerve.
- The transverse abdominis is basically a corset or girdle.
- (Obturator: from the Latin for 'to close up' or plug an opening or gap. How this melds with the definition of a rotator is unclear to me at the moment. In photography, an obturator is a camera shutter.)
- (Gemellus: Gemini stands for ‘the twins’ as in the space ship that carried two astronauts. Gemellus is a related word that means “little twin,” and indeed this rotator muscle has a superior and inferior aspect. If we say there’s a gap between the two gemelli, it’s the obturator that plugs it.)
- (Pes anserinus: 'foot of a goose')
- (The semitendinosus is noted for an extremely long tendon that's just as long as the muscular portion itself, hence the prefix 'semi'.)
- The distal tendon of the semitendinosus is very prominent.
- The author discusses the hamstrings as a group-unit, which is proper.
- (Have you ever checked the bottom of your shoe to see if gum was stuck there? If so, you just activated all four actions of the sartorius, named after a Roman-times 'sartor' or tailor whose crossed leg activated this muscle and often enlarged it. In fact, the word 'sartorial' is still found in a modern dictionary.)
- (Fibula: Roman & Greek brooches [clasps] often had a ‘tongue’, and the name for this was a fibula, which is said to resemble the bone. The fibula was similar to the pricky portion of a safety pin, presumably to hold one's toga in place. If one visualizes the bony portion of the leg to be a safety pin, the name origin makes plenty of sense.)
- (Hallucis: the Roman word for the big toe was ‘hallux’.)
- (Soleus: from the Latin ‘solea,’ meaning sandal, which in Roman times could strap most of the way up the calves.)
- (Calcaneus: from the Latin ‘calx’ meaning limestone, and apparently the heal resembled a lump of similar chalky material. Calx is also the origin of the word calcium.)
- (Gastrocnemius: ‘belly’ [as in gastric] + leg.)
- (Cuneiform: wedge shaped, as is cuneiform script. Shall we call the cuneiforms 'wedgies'?)
- The distal tendon of the tibialis anterior is usually very prominent and visible as it crosses over the tibia toward the big toe
- (Malleolus: from the Latin malleus, or hammer. Let’s say this one resembles a mallet, and notice the word similarity.)
- (Meniscus: this disk of cartilage is crescent-shaped, as is the moon at times. The Greek word meniskos means crescent, stemming from mene for moon, as in menses.)
- The calf contains “Tom, Dick and Harry” muscles:
Flexor Digitorum Longus
- Structurally, the foot muscles extensor digitorum brevis and extensor hallucis brevis are actually one muscle.
- (One definition of talus is rubble or boulders at the base of a hill or cliff, as from a landslide, and the tarsus sure reminds one of this. The talus transmits the entire weight of the body to the foot. Tarsus comes from the Greek for wickerwork, a reference to how these bones wrapped in their ligaments can appear.)
- Trigger points in the flexors and abductor for the big toe can result in tender and sore feet. Ditto for the two-pronged adductor of the big toe, which can lead to a misdiagnosis of plantar fasciitis.
- (My own definition of plantar: The side of the foot that's 'planted' on the ground. As per dorsal, I think of the dorsal fin of a shark.)
- (It is said that exposure to cold weather, particularly when sudden, can hasten the onset of trigger points.)
“It has been a common saying of physicians in England, that a cucumber should be well sliced, and dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out, as good for nothing."
- Samuel Johnson
"The abdomen is the reason why man does not readily take himself to be a god."
From "The Frozen Shoulder Workbook" (2006) by Clair Davies
A follow-up to his Trigger Point Therapy Workbook. As with other books, it works to seek out generalized principles in here rather than find a set of specific techniques to memorize. Though valuable, this thing gets a little wordy and unfocused at times.
- The lats actually connect the humerus all the way down to the top of the pelvis.
- The most common cause of shoulder pain might be trigger points in the infraspinatus. (Infra = below, beneath, inferior, as in 'beneath the spine of the shoulder blade')
- Muscle is generally too pliant to keep a joint together. Connective tissue, on the other hand, is far more rigid and has much less ability to stretch and lengthen. As a consequence, ligaments, tendons and other connective tissue are more susceptible to tears and damage than muscle tissue is. Tendons are so strong they are rarely torn.
- When troubleshooting pain in the upper back, shoulder and upper arms, look toward the scalenes first.
- Most of the trouble with frozen shoulder occurs when muscles fail to lengthen when called upon to do so.
- Frequently a pain problem is a composite of referred pain from several muscles.
- Trigger point theory can be sourced to Robert Froriep, publishing in Germany in 1843. Some consider this author the first to mention symptoms of fibromyalgia.
- Search around for spots that feel the most exquisitely tender. This is the most reliable criterion. This “palpable taut band” is a tight strand of fibers in muscle that feels like a cord or small cable. They limit the muscle’s ability to lengthen. This is not the same as a muscle spasm. Even when you can’t locate the spot by feel, it will always hurt when you press on it.
- Trigger points can tighten up fascia, making it inflexible.
- In 1957, Dr. Janet Travell (a White House physician for Kennedy) discovered that trigger points generate tiny electrical currents. Trigger points in a muscle generally form near the midway point near where the motor nerve enters. They can be a product of muscular exhaustion as pliancy at the microscopic level (compressed sarcomeres) begins to break down (as in a slinky with chinks). Researchers Travell and David Simons called this phenomena an “energy crisis.” (The body is now "bleeding energy," as Ida Rolf might have put it.)
- The safest and most effective remedy is to increase blood circulation.
- There are various kinds of trigger points, but they have something in common: they all hurt when you press on them.
- An attachment trigger point is always under control of the central trigger point.
- Referred pain happens most often in or near a joint.
- When under the influence of trigger points, muscles work harder than they need to. (This may indicate a source of lingering fatigue, the type described by the physician Sir William Gowers in the early 1900s. Gowers also dutifully noted these symptoms even occur in "ladies of blameless habits.")
- Once source of increased trigger point activity can be traced to deficiencies in certain minerals and vitamins, the kind that are necessary for balanced muscle metabolism. Irritants include alcohol, nicotine and caffeine. Antacids and excess water are also culprits.
- Trigger points respond to just the right amount of attention – neither too much nor too little.
- Trigger points usually refer pain to the same side of the body as they’re located, rarely to the opposite side.
- Don’t stroke the trigger point more than a dozen times.
- The author misses out on this train of thought: how the interaction of two people (practitioner and client) foster energy exchanges that can help restore functionality at the interchange point between the motor nerve and the midway point of a muscle.
- We do not aim for the static pressure of ischemic compression, which can be counterproductive. (Ischemia = local anemia.) It’s better to make a series of short firm strokes across the nodule. Intermittent moving pressure allows you to go deeper and evoke just a little more pain than you can stand with a press-and-hold.
- A single stroke takes about two seconds to complete. Cover no more than an inch and a half of skin. We don’t slide the finger across the skin, we move the skin with the fingers. This helps free up the underlying fascia.
- Stroke in one direction only. Work on this point three to six times a day. Aim for a pain level of seven or less.
- The electrical impulses of reasonable amounts of pain are therapeutic in that they disrupt the neurological feedback loop that maintains the trigger point.
- The scalenes are so important they should be among the first muscles to troubleshoot when faced with a shoulder problem. Trouble here can be instigated by trigger points in the SCMs. The chief troublemaker is the anterior scalene, oftentimes behind the SCM where it attaches to the collarbone.
- To avoid pressure on the carotid arteries, simply move away when you feel a pulse.
- Keep your hand and fingers stiff like a board. The movement is in the wrist. Keep asking for numbers to describe the level of pain. Encourage the client to focus on relaxing the area you’re working on. (Or to relax into the spot or the pain.)
- It may take several strokes before someone feels the characteristic "exquisite tenderness." Take the pressure off between strokes. If you rub back and forth with constant pressure you don’t give the blood a chance to flow in and out of the tissue.
- The worst mistake you can make with a trigger point is to compulsively try to erase it.
- Janet Travell, a cardiologist, noticed a surprising number of frozen shoulders among her heart patients. (Dr. Atkins, a cardiologist, noticed a surprising amount of obesity.)
- Trigger points cause referred weakness in other muscles.
- Stretching must be pain-free.
- PNFs attempt to “fool” a muscle into relaxing, but there’s some doubt as to whether this actually occurs. They can possibly leave muscle more contracted than before, as can static ischemic compression.
- Heat has no measurable effect upon encouraging trigger points to release.
- Pain in the little finger is a signature of serratus posterior superior trigger points
From “Discover Reflexology” (1997) by Rosalind Oxenford
The author teaches in Bath, England.
- In ancient times, the “rich man’s” physician would treat the whole person (mind, body, spirit) with Five Element acupuncture. He concentrated his efforts upon “spirit points” aimed at enhancing the well-being of the whole person. Meanwhile, the common man received treatments from the “barefoot doctor” who walked from village to village with his needles. He would apply more needles than the rich man’s physician and his emphasis would be on alleviating annoying conditions. (Proactive vs. reactive.)
- Pay particular attention to the reflex point for the ileocecal valve . . . this sphincter muscle is often a sensitive spot and can play a role in various chronic conditions. This connector between the small and large intestines can become a bottleneck. (Find the spot on the right foot, above the pelvic line, same zone as toe 4.)
From “Reflexology – Simple Techniques” (1997) by Rosalind Oxenford
- This author again singles out the ileocecal valve for attention.
- Another joint-area that can become congested, says the author, is the sigmoid flexure. The reflex is found on the central part of the heel line.
From “Foot Reflexology: Simple-Self Treatment” (1996) by Dr. Wolfgang Spurzem
A short text from Germany.
- The sides of the toes represent the flow of lymph to internal organs.
- The solar plexus is frequently disturbed. All chronic illnesses of the upper internal organs are reflected in the solar plexus point.
- The total interior surface of the intestines is about the size of a soccer field.
- The adrenals sit on the kidneys like riders on a horse. (A kidney is slightly larger than a computer mouse.)
- It’s interesting that there are no points on the feet that are related to the feet themselves.
From "Overcome Neck & Back Pain" (1995) by Kit Laughlin
The author’s varied background includes shiatsu, doctoral-level study in lower back pain in his native Australia, as well as world-level seminars in stretching.
- Experience shows that the actual locus of neck or back pain tends to be the muscles associated with the spine.
- When it comes to the teaching of how to stretch, a crucial point is usually missed: the sole purpose is to feel a stretch in the right place.
- In respect to physical problems that can stem from a variety of causes, here’s the proper approach: rather than trying to determine the causality, a more effective analysis and treatment is better directed toward desired outcomes.
- If the abdominal area is not strong, you cannot transmit the strength of your legs and hips to the arms without distortion.
- A tilting of the hips to one side is the most common contributing cause of recurring middle and low back pain, and it may be a contributing cause of neck pain. Plato wrote about leg-length differences and their relation to back problems. Part of the problem is that most people assume they are built symmetrically, although over half the population has an actual leg-length difference. The difference can range from under a quarter of an inch to over three-quarters of one.
- For those with a leg-length difference, the shorter leg usually exhibits the larger calf muscle.
- If you’re looking at a woman, are the dimples at the back of the hips level?
- In men, the lumbar muscles can indicate pelvic imbalance; in women look for a hip that seems fuller or more rounded than the other.
- Hip flexors will be tighter on the short-leg side; hammies will be looser.
- As far as the body is concerned, stretching exercises are yet one more stress. The body needs time to recover from this type of stress as well.
- If you can’t hold the final position of a stretch for five breaths, you are overdoing it.
- Static stretching (exemplified by yoga) is effective. However it is relatively inefficient in terms of results gained for time spent. It also lacks the capacity to immediately reduce tension in unusually tight muscles.
- You cannot force muscles to relax and you cannot force them to stretch.
- Indigenous peoples (such as Australia’s aborigines) suffer from back pain less often than people from more developed civilizations. It’s been noted that these people squat much more often than the rest of us do.
- Doing any more than three contract/release (C-R, or PNF) stretches in one session does not yield any additional stretch benefits. (A nice point for those of us concerned about economy of movement and time.)
- Parts or even most of the sciatica nerve can abut the piriformis in up to one-third of the population.
- As we become more tense or as we’re exposed to any frustrating experience, the shoulders move upward of their own accord. Recall the last really relaxed person you saw: there would have been much open space between the ears and the shoulders, suggesting that relaxed people carry their shoulders lower than those who are not. Angry people hold their shoulders up around their ears.
- When stretching the limbs, the contractions can last from five to ten seconds. With neck muscles, two to five seconds are enough.
- The author presents a great name for the SCM: sternocleidomastoideus. (Isn’t it juicy enough without the ‘eus’ on the end?)
- There is hardly a human who does not hold tension in their neck. Working here can rapidly produce stunning differences in one’s mood.
- The scalenes are frequently implicated in the entrapment of nerves of the arm.
- For someone suffering pain in the lower back, don’t recommend backward bending exercises.
- Contract/release (PNF) stretches can be very effective in loosening tight calf muscles.
- In most people the hip flexors are stronger than the abdominals. There’s a correlation between tight hip flexors and lower back pain.
- We don’t need nearly as much exercise as most experts say.
- Being able to “empty the mind” (in Zen fashion) is the mark of an expert. (I say it’s also the point when a masseur becomes the master of his or her craft -- when they can generate this space at will.)
- Here’s yet another quality author who cites the work of Hans Selye.
From “Qigong Massage” (1992/2005) by Dr. Jwing-Ming Yang
Rating: If you're an experienced practitioner concerned about deepening your understanding of Eastern theory, this book belongs on your shelf, and prominently so, far ahead of most other texts in your collection. This is a praiseworthy job from Dr. Yang, and perhaps a groundbreaking one.
The word Qigong is pronounced chee-kung. In ancient times, the word Qi was denoted by the Chinese symbol meaning "no fire." Internal organs begin to malfunction usually as a result of excess ki (too much yang). Thus the role of the ancient medical practitioner was to settle down the excess ki, resulting in a condition of "no fire" to the organs so they don't burn out. Organs can also malfunction due to a deficiency of current. The correct definition of Qigong is this: any training or study dealing with ki which takes a long time and a lot of effort.
Learning technique without understand the root theory is self-limiting. Fortunately, the root theory is rather simple.
Traditional Chinese medicine recognizes only two of the eight vessels (the Governing and Conception). This is mainly because the other six vessels aren’t so well understood.
References from traditional Chinese sources are very scarce. References from Western textbooks are incomplete, difficult to understand, and contradictory.
The key to longevity is conserving ki.
The Five Element theory is sometimes interpreted differently by various Oriental physicians.
Your intention can be defined as your firm and steady mind.
You can’t settle down a person’s body until you first settle down their mind. (Some would say you do it concurrently.)
Yi (intention) leads qi, so if the client falls asleep they don’t reap the maximum benefit.
The qi system is closely related to the nervous system.
In addition to the Conception and Governing vessels, the “big three” of the eight vessels includes the Thrusting Vessel which runs inside the spinal column.
It is in joints that we find the “gates” that connect qi to flow in and out from the body’s environment.
On the medial border of the scapula, approximately 2/3’s of the way down from the superior border, we find Bladder 38, or Gaohuang (Vitals Hollow). This spot is mentioned frequently in massage texts, including Steve Capellini’s if I’m correct.
Qi is usually deficient in the kidneys.
Qi circulation in the Governing and Conception vessels can get clogged up at the tailbone, at GV1. This spot can seal up with aging.
If qi travels contrary to normal flow, it’s considered “rebellious.” (Examples include hiccups and acid reflux.)
It is not desirable in every single case to lead qi downward. For instance, you can lead too much to the solar plexus. Therefore in some cases it’s more desirably to facilitate the flow of qi toward the sides of the body.
Whenever the Qi flow in the 12 rivers or channels (meridians) is not normal, the eight reservoirs will regulate the Qi flow and bring it back to normal. The reservoirs (the 8 Qi Mai, or Qi vessels) act as a capacitor (energy storage unit) in an electrical circuit. They are often referred to as reservoirs because they store qi for the system. Fat has low conductivity, so you should use diet and exercise to remove excess fat from your body. Also, relaxing the physical body opens the ki channels. You increase ki slowly and gradually, so as to give the organs time to adjust. In Oriental cities, it was once common to hear the sound of a flute in the evening. That was how blind masseurs (notice that he doesn't use the starchy term "massage therapists") advertised their services. Tension causes the circulation of blood and qi to stagnate. We have a gate through which we let qi inflow and outflow to the outside world. This gate is in the center of the palm, and the spot is called Laogong (the Palace of Anxiety), or Pericardium 8. The function of the pericardium is to dissipate excess ki from the heart and direct it toward P8. (You simply have to hit this spot during a full sequence.) Almost all styles of Chinese martial arts train in Qigong. It is necessary for reaching the higher levels of power generation, which is critical for the effective use of techniques in combat. Buddhist and Taoist monks were also trained in Qigong, as well as traditional massage. It was not until the beginning of this century that the massage techniques used by martial artists were revealed to lay society. Once you know your goal, your mind can be firm and steady. You'll be able to see why something has happened, and what the principles and theories behind it are. Without all of this, your work will be done blindly, and it will be a long and painful process. Only when you are sure what your target is and why you need to reach it should you raise the question of how you are going to accomplish it. The answers to all of these questions form the root of your practice, and will help you to avoid the doubt and confusion that uncertainty brings. If you keep this root, you will be able to apply the theory and make it grow -- and you will know how to create. Without this root, what you learn will be only branches and flowers, and in time they will wither. Knowledge is the yin side of massage, and it forms the foundation for the Yang side, which is the practice. Our physical body is only one part of our entire being. Fat can be stored under the skin, in the fascia, and in the bone marrow. The more fat we have stored in our body, the poorer our ki and blood circulation will be. Fat and fascia are not conductors of ki. This means that whenever ki passes through fascia, the resistance is higher and will affect the ki circulation. Therefore, one of the purposes of general massage is to remove the fat accumulated in the fascia. (I suspect the author might be slightly off-key on this point. Perhaps it's "frozen fascia" that's the culprit, not necessarily all fascia that acts as a retardant of ki-flow.) Each blood cell has properties not unlike that of a small battery. The nervous system plays a critical role in the practice of Qigong. The nervous system enables us to feel what is going on everywhere in our body. Since the mind leads the ki, if we want to lead ki somewhere we have to be able to feel that place. If we cannot feel that place, then the mind cannot lead the ki there, since it does not know where it is. Too much salt is harmful to the kidneys. The eight extraordinary ki vessels (the 'reservoirs') are not fully understood. They contribute to the maintenance of homeostasis, so they are sometimes called the Homeostatic Meridians. French acupuncturists call them the Miraculous Meridians because they've been able to bring relief when other methods have failed. Each of these channels exerts a strong effect upon psychic functioning and individuality, so the command points are among the most important psychological points in the body. For this reason they are occasionally called the Eight Psychic Channels. Two of these channels are the well-known Governing Vessel and Conception Vessel. When our thoughts come from wise thinking and sound judgment, this kind of mind is called Yi, which can be translated as "intention" or "wisdom mind." What the wisdom mind has achieved, you can usually accomplish. Unfortunately, the emotional mind usually dominates. One of the main goals of Chinese Qigong is to develop the wisdom mind so that it can 'govern' the emotional mind. What Chinese acupuncture calls 'cavities' are actually tiny spots of higher electrical conductivity than the surrounding skin. This higher conductivity creates a tunnel or path from the surface to the primary ki channels under the skin and muscles. The cavities bring the excess Qi circulation in the primary ki channels out to the surface of the skin and release it to the air. Of our more than 700 acupuncture cavities, only about 108 can be reached by the fingers. The four most important cavities are at the center of each palm and along the center base of each foot (point 1 along the kidney line, known as Yongquan). The foot gates help outflow excess ki in the kidneys. The nipples are also considered ki gates, although they have not been studied very extensively. Also, pores around joints are more open than elsewhere, so the ki exchange occurs there more easily. When you loosen the joints you are already a third of the way toward your goal of enhanced ki circulation. Gently probe the hollow under the ear, a point where several arteries and nerves branch out to nourish the brain. Two body cavities in particular are most important for improving the exchange of Yang and Yin Qi forces in the body. The first is the Huiyin, located in the perineum. The other is located right under the nose (actually in the roof of the mouth, in a cumbersome location). In addition to unclogging the cycle of Qi distribution, these spots help improve vitality in general and can even revive people who have fainted. When you massage someone, be sure they are lying on cottons or other natural materials. Polyester sheets can build up too much Qi (static charges). As a practitioner, you need to achieve a profound level of feeling and concentration. These are crucial to effective treatment. The root of shen (spirit) is your mind (Yi, or intention.) If you don't know the purpose and theory, you've lost the meaning of the practice. If you let dirty water sit quietly, the impurities will eventually sink to the bottom. In the same way, if you relax the body enough, your Qi will sink to your Dan Tian and the Bubbling Wells (Bubbling Springs, or K-1, the Yongquan point in the foot). Your mind can now become clear. Opening up the Bubbling Springs enables us to become grounded, forming a root that should not only be deep but wide. Calm breathing helps to hypnotize your Yi (mind), helping to calm it. It is said in Taoist circles that when our thoughts are agitated, our lessons are in vain. It is said that the mind lives in the Dan Tian (Tan Den) - (literally Field of Elixir). The elixir in question is ki. Qi behaves like water -- it can't be pushed but can be led. When pushed, it will flood and enter the wrong paths. When led, it will flow smoothly and without stagnation. It is said that your Yi (mind) cannot be on your Qi, lest the ki stagnate. Just like in bicycling. Your mind is on the destination, not so much the act of balancing. The first secret of a strong Yi is calmness. If you bring a high level of awareness to your practice, you'll realize when your posture and alignment are out of whack. The "Real Tan Den" appears to encompass a good portion of the pelvic cavity. It's our center of gravity, and we need to learn how to keep our mind here. It's a human bio-battery. Once we can recognize and feel this center, we're able to lead Qi out and in from this center. This is a crucial key to healing and self-recovery. When we breathe, we should place more awareness in our pelvic basin. When you place your fingertip on a cavity (for instance, Hoku adjacent to the thumb), concentrate your mind so your power reaches the qi primary channel underneath. Since the qi primary channel in the middle finger is connected to the pericardium, the qi is usually strongest there. The fingertips are gates of Qi In massage, pressure comes from the whole body, guided by a relaxed and concentrated mind. Fat can cause sluggish circulation of ki and blood. In a good massage, the client should be in a semi-hypnotic, relaxed and meditative state. Because mind leads qi, when the client falls asleep you direct qi less effectively. In some parts of the world the body is slapped with branches toward the end of a massage. At this point, the qi has risen from its slumber deep inside muscle tissue. The slapping brings the ki further to the surface, where it can be further dispersed. (Bodies don't like overly concentrated ki; it retards the healing process.) Tense muscles limit the free circulation of ki Leading qi to the arms is one of the most effective ways of releasing excess ki in the head. At the mid-point of a massage, when a person does the turn-around, they lose part of the meditative state they were in. Get right back in there and consciously reinstate it. We apparently stabilize Qi by releasing any excess out the body. Therefore we work from the head toward the expulsion gates of the feet and hands. The third-eye point corresponds to the gap between the two lobes of the brain. It is also a gate (Upper Tan Den) for communicating psychically with the outside world. A brain cell needs at least 10 times as much oxygen as any other cell. The medulla oblongata (at the center of the occipital ridge) is called the Brain's Household because it's the entrance through which ki enters the brain. There is usually too much ki in the heart. Laogong (P-8) is also known as the Labor Palace (Palace of Anxiety). Here is the most important part of massaging the legs: massaging the hips, since they are the gateway from the lower spine. The key to successful leg massage is relaxing the big muscles in the hips and opening and stimulating the ki gates in the hips. The perineum lies at the junction of several crucial vessels, each serving as reservoirs (capacitors) for the meridians. Like other parts of the body, the legs need awareness to help lead ki there. The way to improve ki circulation in and to internal organs is to relax the muscles that surround them. When excess ki accumulates in the solar plexus (middle tan den) region, you can experience fatigue, heartburn, discomfort and tension. You want to release this excess ki downward toward the lower tan den. Qi is strongest in the hand you use most often. Breathing deeply does not mean breathing heavily.
"A rising tide lifts all boats."
- attributed to John F. Kennedy
"Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd."
"When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt."
- Henry J. Kaiser (American industrialist, 1882-1967)
From "SomatoEmotional Release" (2002) by John Upledger
This osteopath from Florida displays a refreshingly clear writing style, though the last third of the book resembles little more than a brochure for his services. This book is a fast read, which does not suggest it's a simplistic or bad read. If one set of symptoms is "cured" but a deeper problem is not resolved, the deeper problem may find another set of symptoms to present. You can't get to these deeper levels until trust is developed. Organs, tissues, and perhaps individual cells possess memory, emotional capacity, and intellect. (Edgar Cayce would concur on this point.) While working with autistic children, some of them would violently object to the touch of certain assistants. These turned out to be the assistants with negative attitudes whom the autistic children could intuitively discern. A high degree of focus is essential. An energy cyst or node (apparently related to, if not often the same as a trigger point) is a localized area of increased entropy (The degree of disorder and uncertainty within a system; unavailable energy. It seems evident to me that unnecessary uncertainty in our lives can sap energy, although maturity does entail the ability to live with a certain degree of it.) Retained in the body, an energy cyst contains the emotional content of the original trauma. The increased entropy is disorganized and disruptive energy that the body simply puts up with the best it can. A client may unconsciously test your intention and skill. She or he may challenge you to subordinate your ego. By "blending" with the client, you consciously envision the boundaries between your hands and the other person's body dissolving. You experience your hands entering the other's body. It's like melding together two differently colored bars of soap and watching the colors blend. The therapist picks up the flavor of the offending condition in the client's body, makes it part of his or her own body, and then casts it off by intention. Anger is a spender. It demands of your heart, lungs, liver, stomach, colon, your entire physiology. It makes no allowance for replacing what it takes from you. Fear reduces the effectiveness with which we respond to danger. The liver is like the oil filter in a car. As a seat of anger and depression, which can be lifted temporarily, it must be clean or else the emotional being will be recontaminated. Once it is called into action, the pericardium -- the heart protector -- has a tendency to be overly protective for a disproportionately long time. It's possible that some people use the narcotic effect of tobacco smoke to deaden the pain of grief that gets housed in the lungs. The most comprehensive set of pain-relief acupuncture points may well be these: Large Intestine 4, Stomach 36, Gallbladder 36, Pericardium 4 (all on both sides) plus Governing Vessel 16. As bodyworkers, we must mentally urge meridians to flow, visualizing open connections. We let our hands think for themselves. They often have more intelligence than our brains. If we move too fast, we lose contact with this inner body intelligence. It's quite possible that we carry over trauma from previous lifetimes. However, it's a rule of life that we have, for the most part, amnesia regarding our previous incarnations. But the more open we are, the more that outside, benevolent entities can assist us. If we go with the flow of things, these guides will tell us precisely what should be done, how to direct our life, how to correct our course. To know if these promptings are authentic, we'll feel a vibration in our solar plexus. If we're being misled, we'll feel nothing there. Preexisting anger and resentment can exacerbate the damage we receive from accidents and injuries. A more upbeat mood helps us shed the residual effects more quickly. We have to get our own baggage out of the treatment room. When you're working out on the edge, there will always be those who try to strike you down. The teaching of high-purpose intentioned touch is a way of diffusing anger and violence. Touch and listen. There is no disease without some inner conflict. Great artists, beyond displaying high knowledge, are able to become completely absorbed in the moment of their craft without distraction.
From "The Reflexology Atlas" (2003) by Bernard Kolster and Astrid Waskowiak
The authors are medical doctors from Germany. This oversize book, suggestive of a road atlas, is helpful for its oversize illustrations, particularly of the ears. In fact, the ear section is among the strongest you'll find most anywhere. The overall presentation is rather flat, suggesting a non-synergistic awareness on the part of the authors, exemplified by their "do this, now do that" approach. Painful or sensitive areas in the feet are usually not a sign of illness. The authors mention an alternate term for "healing crisis," which I don't really care for. They refer to it more accurately (in German, originally) as the "initial worsening": the early point when reflexology or other forms of bodywork brings upon a limited exacerbation of an existing ailment in the client. This is actually a positive sign showing that the body is responding favorably. Signs of the "initial worsening" can include a need for deep sleep and possibly a bout of moodiness. When applying caterpillar-type thumb presses up the foot, move up each point as if working on the pearls of a necklace. The sensation you're aiming for with your thumb is one of crushing sugar crystals in your palm. So said the American pioneer of reflexology, Eunice Ingham. When you pull the webbing between the toes (with your thumb and index finger), work with the breathing rhythm of your partner. The authors refer to the webbing as "swimming skins." It's better to become proficient with a select few moves than to know a large number of moves less precisely. In classical foot reflexology, each reflex zone on the two feet is treated in turn. For example, after you finish working the head zone on the right foot, you follow by working the head zone on the left. This helps you notice differing sensitivities on the zones on either foot. However, if the focus is to harmonize bodily balance and foster relaxation, it makes more sense to first massage all the reflex zones of one foot before switching over to the other. Moving back and forth in this case could be disruptive to your overall intention. The range of motion of the upper part of the cervical spine corresponds roughly to the ROM of the base joint of the big toe. The American physician William Fitzgerald (1872-1929), famous for his ten vertical body zones, further divided the big toes into five zones each. The authors refer to the bottoms of the toes, the pads, as "toe berries." (I like that.) Some zones of the face are located right on the toenails. A weak point in the spine is the transition spot from the cervical spine to the thoracic. Forming the top of the first bend, it's subject to extra stresses. Problems here can be indicated by restrictions in the ROM of the big toe and first metatarsal bone. The reflex spot for the sacrum is located a little deeper than most points (distal and medial on the heel), so a little extra pressure is called for. The tip of the thumb (as with the pad of the big toe) contains the zone for the pituitary gland, which can be described as the "overarching steering element" for the body. (I'll stick with "conductor of the orchestra.") In the cerebral cortex, the areas associated with the lips and fingers take up more space than the legs. Ear massage was mentioned as far back as the ancient Chinese Nei Jing. In the time of Hippocrates, back pains were occasionally treated by applying tiny burns to the ears. In the time of Tang-dynasty China (about 600 to 900 AD), some 20 therapeutic spots on the ear had been mapped. In 1637, the Portuguese physician Zaratus Lusitanus discussed the application of targeted burn marks as well. In the 1950s, the French physician Paul Nogier noticed small burn zones on the ears of some patients who had seen a folk healer. Through experimentation he worked out a zone map, noting that the shape of the auricle resembled that of a curled fetus or upside-down embryo. The upper-inner part of the ear, just beneath the curled ridge (helix) contains a small indentation called the fossa triangularis. At most, you can get your pinkie finger in there. This point is reputed to help alleviate pain, inhibit infection, and calm the body. Some of the more interesting points on the ear include the:
Anti-aggression point: Effective in settling down a testy mood brought upon by illness. It's located near the front of the lobe, about a finger-width from the bottom, as is the fear/worry point.
Fear-Worry point: Helps to subdue real and imaginary fears.
Antidepression point: Helps to relieve melancholy. It's located on the anti-tragus, which is across from the tragus, a small node that you might pull if you're bothered by excessive ear wax.
Main Omega point: Reputedly helps to promote a sense of psychological well-being. If you think of the ear as a map of Ireland, this point would be a port city a couple miles inland from the south-central tip. The Lung Point (center of inner ear) can be massaged as part of a treatment for nicotine addiction. The nearby Heart Point can assist in cases of insomnia and internal unrest. A few miles northeast on our imaginary map of Ireland (right ear) we find the Solar Plexus Point (northwest on the left ear), helpful in cases of anxiety. The Chinese spoke of the Shen Men Point, or "gate of the gods." One of the most important points in ear reflexology, it's located in the previously mentioned fossa triangularis and is said to promote a calming effect. Just above the tragus (on the east central coastline of Ireland, right ear) is a small indentation where the ear transitions into the face. Here we find the Frustration Point, which is said to help boost the willpower to overcome difficult endeavors such as losing weight or quitting cigarettes. On the southwest coast (right ear; opposite coast on left), where the lobe meets the helix or curved ridge, we find the Polster Point and the Jerome Point. The polster has a calming effect and the Jerome settles the autonomic nervous system. The Adrenal Glands point, on the edge of the tragus, helps combat chronic fatigue. Regarding shiatsu, you really have to experience its effects upon your own body in order to understand it. Some books refer to "grateful pain," and this one uses the expression "welcome pain," the type that actually produces a release and ironically can feel refreshing. If the sensation begins to travel along an energy meridian, you know you're on the right track. In shiatsu, work with the pad of your thumb, not the tip. According to American statistics, every other application for early retirement makes reference to back problems. People in psychological distress have a tendency to hang their heads down. It was once speculated that most cases of tension headache were due to hyper-tense neck muscles. Now this is seen to be the case only about half the time. The most common cause of death in developed countries could well be constriction of the coronary arteries. Because the socket of the shoulder joint is so shallow, it allows the arm a huge range of motion. However, this enhanced flexibility comes at a price: no joint is so easily dislocated. A contributing factor is that the arms are held in place mainly by muscle, not tendons.
From "The New Reflexology" (2006) by Inge Dougans
A bit plodding, like trudging through heavy snow, but at least Dougans is on the right path. She runs a school in South Africa. As is well known to students of reflexology, a forerunner to the field was the concept of zone therapy, developed by Dr. William Fitzgerald, born in Connecticut in 1872. At a dinner party in 1934, Fitzgerald met a well-known concert singer who mentioned that the upper register tone of her voice had gone flat and that throat specialists had been unable to discover the cause of her affliction. Fitzgerald asked to examine the fingers and toes of the singer, telling her that the source of the problem was a callus on her right big toe. After he applied pressure for a few minutes, the singer remarked that the pain had disappeared. Then the doctor asked the woman to try the tone of the upper register. Curiously, the singer reached two tones higher than she had ever done before. The Chinese had divided the body into longitudinal meridians by 2500 BC. From the ancient Chinese Nei Ching (Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine): "Maintaining order rather than correcting disorder is the ultimate principle of wisdom. To cure disease after it has appeared is like digging a well when one already feels thirsty, or forging weapons after war has already begun." Said Lao Tze: We turn clay to make a vessel, but it is in the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends. Ancient Chinese proverb: Tell me and I'll forget. Show me and I may remember, but involve me and I'll understand. The word 'stress' is derived from the Latin stringere, meaning "to draw tight." Leo Tolstoy: The highest wisdom has but one science, the science of the whole, the science explaining the whole of creation and man's place in it. Einstein: A theory is the more impressive the greater is the simplicity of its premises, the more different are the kinds of things it relates, and the more extended is its range of applicability. Many nutritional experts say we're not getting enough oxygen through our food, yet we continue to drink carbon-loaded fizzy drinks. Edgar Cayce: Food from plants is higher in potential energy than that from animal products. (It's closer to the source, which includes the impoundment of solar energy.) Eating animal products is therefore eating the energy secondhand. St. Augustine: There are no miracles, only unknown laws. The assumption used to be that the main causes of backache and associated disorders were muscles which were either in spasm or too taut, thus affecting the spine. However, Dr. George Goodheart, the founder the the practice known as applied kinesiology, began to take a different approach: that it might not be the muscle spasm or tautness that was the problem, but rather it was "weak muscles" on the opposite side of the body that caused the normal ones to appear tight. Combining Eastern ideas about energy flow with his own chiropractic techniques, he discovered that the tests used in kinesiology to determine the relative muscle strength and tone over the range of movement of the joints could also reveal the balance of energy in each of the body's systems. Further research led him to identify the relationship between each specific muscle group, the particular organs and the meridians of acupuncture. Muscle-related disorders associated with the kidney meridian are problems with the neck/shoulder area and the hip/pelvic area. Many people complain of neck tension and believe the cause merely to be the muscular tightness. However, it could be the result of overloading the kidneys and bladder. If the kidneys do not efficiently eliminate toxins, these can get stored in the neck or hip. If this situation is not corrected the toxins remain in these muscles and eventually begin to eat away at the bone structure. Viruses, germs, bacteria and parasites thrive in an acidic environment. The acid-forming elements found in food preservatives and additives bombard our tissues and congest our meridians. The stomach meridian is the only one that penetrates all the major body organs. Right on top of the head is a special connecting point for all yang meridians. The point is called Baihui, which means "meeting point for 100 points." This point governs all other points and meridians in the body. Yin functions are conceived of as deeper and more essential for vital functioning than the yang functions. The special connecting point for all yin meridians is situated at the base of the sternum. According to the Nei Ching, this is the spot where all the energies are collected. The bladder meridian runs along the same pathway as the sciatic nerve. A day after someone's first reflexology session, the most common response is "I've never slept so well." The author does not work one foot completely before moving to another. She works each body system on both feet before moving to the next body system. By rotating the toes, we release tension and loosen muscles in the neck and shoulder area. The most important reflexes related to the lymphatic system are located in the webbing between the toes. Don't be alarmed if you hear a small clicking sound as you twist the foot. This can signify that minor misalignments in the spine are being corrected.
In many Western translations, the Triple Heater is described as an endocrine meridian since each of the three cavities also relates to hormonal glands and their related functions.
Anger, depression and emotional frustrations are associated with the liver. Therefore, balance in the Liver Meridian will produce a sense of well-being and equitable temperament. (Equanimity, a.k.a. “evenness of mind under pressure.”)
When our feet are cold we can feel a tightening of the solar plexus.
From "Deep Tissue Massage Treatment: A Handbook of Neuromuscular Therapy" (2006) by Fabian Fernandez
This is essentially a paint-by-numbers cookbook written by a clinician (a dedicated follower of fashion, as it were), devoid of deep-level insight.
- From the foreword by Joseph Muscolino, instructor at the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy: All too often, therapists try to "muscle" deep tissue work instead of learning to apply it using efficient body mechanics. The key is to work smart instead of hard.
- Therapists often confuse knots with trigger points and proceed to work on the knot with direct finger pressure. Unfortunately, this may cause pain to the client and result in failure to effectively treat the nodal point.
- Although cross-fiber friction and deep transverse friction (popularized by James Cyriax) are popularly believed to be the same, it is the author's opinion that deep transverse friction can be applied at a deeper level than cross-fiber.
- Deep transverse friction can be applied for as long as 15 minutes to create a controlled re-injury of tissue. This results in:
1) Restructuring of the connective tissue
2) Increased circulation
3) Temporary analgesia (absence of pain in response to stimulation that would normally be painful)
4) Increased ROM
- A knot is a combination of spastic (characterized by hypertonic muscles, as in "spastic cerebral palsy") and intertwined muscle fibers. To help disengage the knot, stroke away from the center. Avoid applying cross-fiber, circular friction or direct pressure.
- A 90-minute DVD accompanies the book, and it's a wonderfully effective substitute for a sleeping pill. It constantly tells us to find and deactivate "all" trigger points in an area. Is that so? Shall we keep the client on the table for six hours?
"Lazy people are always anxious to be doing something."
- Luc de Vauvenargues (1715-47)
"A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears."
- Michel de Montaigne
"Error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it."
- Thomas Jefferson
From "Body & Mature Behavior" (1949) by Moshe Feldenkrais
An occasional dose of strong material in bland packaging. An excited cell takes a considerable amount of time to subside to its original state. Life, as well as the material world, will probably never be reduced to something very simple unless an entirely new method of thinking, not based on causality, is used. Recent developments suggest that position, symmetry, configuration, and pattern are fundamental elements in the structure of the physical world. These abstract notions, long believed to be human creations and having solely an aesthetic value, seem to be, to put it paradoxically, as material as matter itself. Recognizing this situation, we can understand the comparatively recent tendency to study directly the whole instead of its parts. Numerous schools have been formed to investigate the response of the entire living frame instead of dissecting it. Synthesis takes the place of analysis. The average person avoids any serious change and vegetates in some sort of static equilibrium. The culture of the hip joints and posture of the pelvis have always been the central point of all esoteric teachings concerned with increasing potency, sexual and otherwise. (The word 'posture' misleads us into thinking it's a static idea.) In all Oriental languages, reduction of the exaggerated lumbar hyperextension is synonymous with manhood. "Gird up your loins" is a Biblical expression for "get ready for a manly effort." "Sprung from one's loins" denotes fatherhood. The Yogi, the Japanese wrestler, and in fact all Orientals have always ascribed power and potency to the lumbar-sacral region. The Shizentai (a relaxed but alert stance, as in karate) is essentially the potent state we have described. The graceful, precise and efficient movements executed effortlessly and without delay in any position and at any instant are made possible by maintaining the center of gravity at the highest potential energy level possible. The author observes that introverts have some habitual extensor rigidity. Either the head or the hip joints lean abnormally forward; turning the body is achieved by detour or roundabout means and not in the simplest direct way. Extroverts on the other hand have a more erect standing posture and gait. People with emotional trouble seem to be incapable of full extension of their musculature. Inhibition of the extensors is observed in all emotionally disturbed persons. In the long run, this becomes habitual and remains unnoticed. However, the whole character is affected. This type of person will live only on an intellectual level. Intellect is no substitute for vitality, and this is a drawback of conscious control of the body. These internal mechanisms should be left to our self-regulating nervous coordination. The best-adjusted people do not overly rely on conscious control of their body movement. People who apparently spontaneously prefer the better way of doing are those who have the capacity to detect small differences of sensaton. All sensations in which muscular activity is involved are largely dependent on the smallest amount of tonus persistent in the musculature. When the tonus is the smallest possible, you sense the finest increase in effort. Intellectual awareness is not sufficient to alter matters fundamentally. The body and mind are never independent. Such subdivision is entirely arbitrary and unfounded. The outstanding quality of human conscious innervations seems to be a unique capacity to form new nervous paths, associations, and regrouping of interconnections. Those made during youth are the most stable, but even these are more labile (adaptable / open to change) than in other animals. When a person chooses to use a stereotyped pattern of behavior instead of one suitable to the present reality, the learning process has come to a standstill. The author contends that the cures achieved by "purely" psychiatric treatment, which are satisfactory, are those in which the muscular patterns have been corrected indirectly, by chance.
"A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution applied ten minutes later."
-- General George S. Patton
"Fish and visitors stink after three days."
- Ben Franklin
"Those who know how to win are more numerous than those who know how to make proper use of their victories."
-- Polybius 203-120 BC
From "Trigger Point Therapy for Myofascial Pain" (1999/2005) by Donna and Steven Finando
Basically a recipe book, with the insights limited to the first few pages.
- A practitioner will feel a trigger-point area to display the greatest resistance to palpation.
- Continued focused palpation will reveal an area that is particularly tight, and then a point within the area that is exquisitely tender. Direct manual pressure to that spot elicits what Dr. Janet Travell called a "local twitch response." In addition, there may be a "patient jump sign." The pain expressed is often greater than what the practitioner may expect given the degree of pressure applied.
- To view and treat a single muscle or muscle group without consideration of the whole is insufficient.
- Oriental medical principles are less actual descriptors of physical reality than they are metaphors that serve to guide treatment.
- While the idea that qi is some sort of invisible "stuff" flowing through the meridians can have its uses, it should be understood that this is a materialized concept of qi.
- The more a person is capable of relaxing, the more he becomes a locus through which universal movement can take place and express itself. (This point is also made in mystical literature.)
- As you palpate, use as broad a surface area of your hand as possible. Palpation, as a method of gathering information, is far more effective if practiced using the palmar surfaces of the hands rather than the tips of the fingers. (I'm not totally sold on this.)
- We need to operate with a certain mental framework -- a diffuse state of attention coupled with a constant vigilance. Call it if you will a "passive vigilance" and fluidity of thought that allows for constant change.
- In reference to musculature, Dr. Travell saw the terms origin and insertion as relatively meaningless. She preferred the terms proximal or distal attachment.
- The most frequent location of trigger-point activity is the trapezius. Next in line comes the levator scapulae. Next comes the infraspinatus.
- Pain that's sometimes referred to as "tennis elbow" may be accompanied by a weak or unreliable grip.
- Tightness in the gluteus medius is a frequently overlooked source of back pain.
- Gluteus minimus: The pain pattern displayed by this muscle when it harbors trigger points closely resembles what is commonly referred to as sciatica.
- SP21 is the "universal luo," or balancing point, of all the meridians and is used to support overall health. (On the mid-axillary line in the 6th intercostal space. It's also referred to as the "great enhancement." Actually, I'm more in the mood for a universal luau, Hawaiian style.)
"Never think that thou hast made any progress till thou look upon thyself as inferior to all."
- Thomas a Kempis
"It is in the darkness of their eyes that men lose their way."
- Black Elk
"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal."
- Henry Ford
From "Simply Reflexology" (2006) by Claire Wynn
From Australia, this is perhaps most useful as a general introduction to a newcomer. The package includes a DVD and a much-needed footsie roller, which I tend to give away to people with alarming regularity.
- The DVD refers to metatarsal kneading as metatarsal "wiggling," a viewpoint I find refreshing.
- Wynn also refers to feeling for and working out "crunchiness" in the sole of the foot, reminiscent of Dr. James Mally of California who refers to "crunchies."
- As you apply caterpillar thumb movements to the medial aspect (inner side) of the foot, thus working spinal reflexes, Wynn notes that the smaller the area you penetrate, the better.
- The author confirms the practice of pressing "up and in" at the center of the print-line of the big toe. This is a means of stimulating pituitary function.
"One isn't born one's self. One is born with a mass of expectations, a mass of other people's ideas, and you have to work through it all."
- V.S. Naipaul
"When a thought is too weak to be expressed simply, it should be rejected."
- Luc de Vauvenargues (1715-47)
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it."
- Upton Sinclair
From "Edgar Cayce's Massage Hydrotherapy & Healing Oils" (1989) by Joseph and Sandra Duggan
This one more than fails to live up to its potential.
- From the foreword: "This is a long overdue book." (Gag me!)
- In the thousands of readings given for individual health, Cayce consistently describes the major causative factor of disease as a lack of coordination among body, mind and spirit.
- Cayce: "The why of the massage should be considered: Inactivity causes many of those portions along the spine from which impulses are received to the various organs to be lax, or taut, or to allow some to receive greater impulse than others."
- Keep the mind active but blank.
- Nerve centers and plexuses (plexi?) themselves can become congested.
- The word 'plexus' comes from the Latin for braid.
- When the third chakra is blocked or unguided, it can lead to the type of personality that attempts to force other people to conform to one's way of thought.
-- Joseph Campbell, Myths to Live By
- "There is every force in the body to recreate its own self -- if the various portions of the system are coordinating and cooperating one with another. . . . Mechanical adjustments as may be administered by a thorough or serious osteopathic manipulator may nearer adjust the system for its perfect unison of activity than most any other means."
From "Massage & Bodywork" magazine, February/March 2006
- The "regulatory/school/association climate" has inhibited the growth of chair massage in the United States.
-- David Palmer
- Palmer: "In 1985, there was a shift from massage to massage therapy." Things started being defined in the negative, such as "I have a problem. I need to fix it." Palmer believes this paradigm has stalled the industry's growth. . . . Also, people just can't afford a $70 massage every month. The primary initial barrier to massage for most people is the cost.
- "If we got all the touch we wanted or needed, 75% of mental health problems would go away tomorrow."
- "Just give me the connective tissue and you can have the rest."
-- Ida Rolf
- "Create a shift of feeling in the unconscious, and all the changes in the tissue will follow."
-- Milton Trager
- Traditional massage techniques are helpful in desensitizing hyperexcited neuroreceptors in the skin and fascia. (Eric Dalton)
- The cortisol generated by low-grade stress begins to dissolve connective tissue. Several "stress-related diseases" list high cortisol levels and poor recovery from stress as leading factors. The problems can present themselves as chronic fatigue, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, fibromyalgia, and depression.
From "Home Health Massage" (2002) by Wendy Kavanagh
Your basic introductory handbook for the weekend warrior. I skimmed through this thing in 20 minutes and then gave it to the Scranton Public Library.
- In the 25th century BC, a medical text known as the Nei Ching contained some of the earliest Chinese references to bodywork.
- In the first century AD, the Roman physician Tiberius declared that massage cures paralysis.
- Can't find a little rubber ball with protrusions to rub all over yourself? Try a pine cone. Or a grapefruit.
- Some mental signs of stress: Being unfocused, forgetfulness, indecision, being disorganized.
- Some physical signs of stress: Shallow breathing, ulcers.
- Often neglected in general massage, the armpits are one of the body's erogenous zones.
From "Esoteric Anatomy" (1998), by Bruce Burger
If the author could dispense with the airy-fairy New Age stuff such as hugging the client after each session, he could make more of an impact. Oftentimes this overly long thing reads like a day at the psychic fair.
- This book is based upon the work of Dr. Randolph Stone (1890-1981), who termed his process "polarity therapy." The teachings invite the student to transcend egocentricity and to step into an awareness of Being. The sages explain that our neuroses are rooted in the ignorance of Being, of Self.
- The Sanatana Dharma (an ancient Indian philosophy that may be translated as "Eternal Law") maintains that work done with knowledge (awareness) becomes worship (which may be a good working description of the Christian concept of "sacrifice").
- The Soul alone is the power in the body that reacts to any form of bodywork.
- Ayurveda teaches that three-quarters of all disease has its roots in imbalances in the nervous system.
- Polarity therapy pays particular emphasis on stimulating return currents in the body. Overall, the purpose is to balance various energies and to release excess surface tension so the center can again radiate and flow where it is designed.
- Our bodies are meant to be in a state of vibration, of oscillation, and armoring prevents this.
- Dr. Stone believed that most pains are due to expansion and gas formations in tissues.
- The diaphragm has a definite reflex below Poupart's (inguinal) ligament. Working here can help relax spasms of the diaphragm.
- Crystallization and hardness in the feet spell old age and decay and death. Crystallizations anywhere in the body inhibit our ability to vibrate at a higher level. (See the reflexology book by Frankie Wolfe, below, for a brief discussion on measuring one's vibrational levels in kilohertz.)
- Working on the perineum helps to "reset" the nervous system. All the muscles between the pubic arch and the coccyx are considered. In Chinese medicine, these figure-8 shaped muscles have been called the "infinity muscles." It is essentially a diaphragm that's designed to move in harmony with the diaphragm at the solar plexus. The author also states there is a diaphragm of sorts at the third eye. The health and resilience of the perineal muscles are a key factor in the body's ability to achieve a finer attunement with the higher mind.
- The muscles of the perineum can be pictured as a hammock attached to the sacrum.
- (Regarding the perineum/diaphragm connection, there are enormous implications for the study of human sexuality. I don't recall seeing this connection mentioned in some of the more important texts of the field.)
- Perineal work releases the parasympathetic nervous system, which facilitates deeply relaxed, meditative and ecstatic states. It also releases the sympathetic nervous system. Both of these nerve systems respond best from below upward. For relieving pain, it is particularly effective during pregnancy and menstruation.
- The sacrum is the most vital and neglected of our bones.
- Constant back pain is often the result of an anterior pull of the psoas, in which the back muscles overcompensate.
- To palpate the psoas, place your fingers just inside the ASIS. Have the client raise their leg against your resistance. The psoas will now present itself. (Personally, I don't palpate the psoas directly.)
- Pubic Pop: To help realign the pubic arch, have the client lay face up with knees bent so that the space under them forms an equilateral triangle. As the client attempts to pull his legs closer together, firmly pull them apart.
- Because it goes right to the core of emotional blocks and frustrations, perineal treatment can unlock stagnant energy faster than most other methods.
- "The Bhagavad Gita is one of the clearest and most comprehensive summaries of the Perennial Philosophy ever to have been made."
-- Aldous Huxley
- Also regarding the Bhagavad Gita, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: "It was the first of books. It was if an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence which in another age had pondered and thus disposed of the same questions which exercise us."
- The sages tell us, "What your mind contemplates, you become."
- Chakras are about two inches in diameter and are heart-shaped. (Other sources insist they appear more like a CD.)
- Prana is often defined as "life force," but the meaning goes beyond this to include a field of living higher intelligence.
- The sacrum is the keystone of the body, and the key to the healing process is perineal therapy, which enhances the range of motion and resilience of the sacrum. This allows the sacrum and the cerebral spinal system to resonate with a finer harmony of receptivity (higher wavelength) to spirit or higher intelligence.
- The so-called "dean" of American esoteric studies was Manly P. Hall (whose work will eventually be visited on this site). On the first page of his voluminous The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Hall presents an illustration of "Babbitt's atom". Writing in the 1850s, Babbitt discussed differences in the right and left hemispheres of the brain, and he offered home-study courses in color therapy and natural healing. He eventually fell under the attack of "anti-quackery" laws.
- The muscle fibers of the human heart are spiral shaped and contract in a spiral to twist the blood through its chambers.
- Breathing is itself a mantra.
- Spirit moves in spirals. (There are no straight lines in nature.)
- Diffused mind energy rules every cell of the body.
- The wisdom of the ancients calls us to topple the materialistic paradigm and to re-establish a sacred vision for living our life on this earth.
- When it is not safe to express one's self, elimination becomes a problem. Tension becomes lodged in the chest, solar plexus, pelvis, and thighs.
- Patterns of tension drop the body's quality of vibration. The body is now less attuned to the forces of higher intelligence
- The hara is the center of our intention. (I've heard other informed people place it in the chest, but I'll go with the hara.) The fight-or-flight mechanism is also centered here. The hara is where mental impulses are birthed into physical expression.
- Clients don't need to re-experience trauma to release the past. It is only necessary for the client to experience that it's safe to be present in his or her body for trauma to be released and sentience (body awareness) to return.
- The ganglion of impar, located behind the coccyx, is the negative pole of the sympathetic nervous system. (This point is stimulated in some forms of Chinese medicine.)
- When we feel unsafe to connect with others we tense the pelvis.
- As practitioners, our most potent tool is to be fully present to our clients. Compassionate intent touches the soul.
- "Perform every action with your heart fixed on The Supreme Lord. Renounce your attachment to the fruits. . . . It is this evenness of temper which is meant by yoga."
-- Sri Krishna, circa 3200 BC
From “Shiatsu” (2003) by Daisy Cole
The author received most of her shiatsu education at the Ki Ka Shiatsu Centre in London.
Any work on the tsubos comes from a place of deep relaxation rather than physical force. There are times when a shiatsu treatment needs to be deep. This depth does not come from applying extra force with the muscles but from a whole body connection of which the receiver is a part. Deep connection comes from your focus, as well as using the correct angle (perpendicular). Attempting to overcompensate with physical pressure will cause a defensive reaction in the receiver's ki. Relax, and practice listening for differences in ki. Use the point rather than the pad of your thumb. Switch off from any conscious thought and allow your awareness of the receiver's body to come through the points of your thumbs. Your mother hand is your listening hand. A foot-shake encourages ki to flow down the legs and releases energy held in the sacrum and lower back. It is important to visualize your hara connecting directly to the ground. If you incorporate leg pulls into your routine, don't let the client's legs lock straight. Keep them relaxed. Build several "points of stillness" into your routine. Listen extra hard at these times. The outside of the arms tend to be jitsu in orientation. If you feel kyo in the client's body, think about the corresponding area in your own body. Visualize this area opening up, then extend this ki back to the receiver. Practice connection, work with intention. Bladder 10, at the base of the skull, is a clearing point. Working on this point brings clarity to the mind.
From "Hand Reflexology" (2000), by Mildred Carter & Tammy Webb
Let's view this as a companion volume to Carter's earlier work "Body Reflexology," which is reviewed here.
- Abnormal conditions in the body reflect themselves in the hands and feet. No such reflexes are found in healthy people.
- Perhaps it was the pioneering work of reflexologists that inspired Elizabeth Kenny to develop her technique to combat polio, and thus gain worldwide recognition despite bitter opposition from the medical profession.
- A full flow of water can't run through a clogged or rusty pipe. As the toxins of cells accumulate in the bloodstream, the body becomes flooded, shocked and poisoned by its own excrement. Likewise with a stagnant pool of water, once you re-establish a continuous supply of clean water, the pool becomes sparkling and clear again, full of life.
- "A real physician will not hesitate to use any method that will relieve the sick. A real quack is one who will hesitate to use or recommend any method to relieve the sick, unless it is sanctioned by some governing board."
-- George Starr White, MD, A Lecture Course to Physicians, (1918)
- "One of the most disgraceful blots on the pages of organized medicine . . . is the fact that they have apparently, in every way possible, tried to hinder the spread of . . . Zone Therapy (now called reflexology). Because it was likely to educate the people into methods of self-treatment, they became alarmed and in various ways they have heaped abuse upon those who practice this method."
-- Edwin Bowers MD, circa 1918 (Were they alarmed because, in the words of Buckminster Fuller, they couldn't "put a meter on it"?)
- Reflex areas near the wrist coincide with the pelvic region.
- As reflex areas, the fingers are very significant. They seem to control the nerves and mentality.
- Stimulation of the pituitary gland often means a new lease on life.
- Hormones control the pace at which certain organs or glands work.
- "The pineal gland is the place where mind and body meet."
-- Rene Descartes
- The proper function of sex organs depends, among other things, upon a normal and healthy thyroid, which is also responsible for your poise.
- Sparkling eyes, self-reliance and self-assurance are indications that the gonads (ovaries/testes) are functioning properly.
- The word "hormone" comes from the Greek, meaning "to excite," as in to stimulate, or to spark an action.
- Indra Devi (1899-2001) has been called "the first lady of yoga." In her book Forever Young, Forever Healthy (1953), she cites the work of a Dr. Rowe who determined that juvenile delinquency and depression were often due to faulty pituitary function.
- "His flesh shall be fresh as a child's; he shall return to the days of his youth. And thy youth shall be renewed like the eagle's. These things worketh God oftentimes in man when man knows how to live in harmony with the law."
-- Job 33:25-29 / Psalms 103:5
"Work where you want to be, and work on the people you want to work on -- that is where you will do your best work."
-- David Palmer
From "Reiki for Life" (2002), by Penelope Quest
If there's a definitive and convincing reiki text on the market, I've yet to see it.
- Whether or not we're mindful of it, we're picking up signals from other people's auras all the time.
- In the East, words for "secret" and "sacred" are virtually interchangeable.
- Forgive me for my close-mindedness, but here's a part I'm not ready to buy into: Reiki can be found in your vacuum cleaner, coffee maker, dishwasher, microwave, and water heater. (A-hem! Can we include the curling iron, kitty litter, and corkscrew?)
- Our hands contain hara lines.
From "Yoga, Tai Chi, Massage, Therapies & Healing Remedies" (2002), by Mark Evans, et al.
Clocking in at some 500 pages, this hefty volume is as unwieldy as the title. It tries to cover far too much in one book, and ends up covering none of the topics with insightful depth. You can often find this in the bargain racks.
- Migraine headaches sometimes include disturbed vision and the sensation of flashing lights.
- Symptoms of stress include feeling on the verge of tears much of the time, as well as problems in relationships and little interest in sex.
- Exercise helps dissipate excess adrenaline.
- A good exercise for the diaphragm is to blow up a couple balloons once in a while. (Given the interconnection, this may also help relax and release the pelvic floor.)
- Angina is a cramping of the heart muscles due to narrowing or obstruction of the coronary arteries.
- Arthritis is sometimes associated with an excess of acidic waste matter accumulating around the joints.
- Night cramps are probably due to a combination of reduced circulation, tiredness and stress. The whole person needs to be treated.
- In all therapies, small is beautiful. If a dose of something is helpful, don't get the impression that doubling the dose will double the benefit. Often the result is quite the opposite.
- Recurrent abscesses often indicate a weakened immune system.
- As with several other books, the author recommends spring water over seltzer.
- Boils tend to occur when people are run down, either by stress or poor diet and hygiene. They can appear more frequently alongside other illnesses such as diabetes, when the higher blood-sugar levels provide food for bacteria.
- American Indians used sweat lodges as part of their natural medicinal treatments.
- During the time of the Crusades, essential oils -- or "perfumes of Arabia," as they were known -- spread extensively throughout Europe.
- Eunice Ingham (1889-1974), a pioneer in the field of reflexology, developed a theory based on the recognized fact of slower circulation to the extremities. She theorized that tiny crystalline deposits occur around various nerve endings in the feet, much as silt forms in a river as the current slows. (Her career was marked by dogged opposition from the medical establishment.)
- In America, Daniel David Palmer is considered the founder of chiropractic medicine. In 1895, this self-taught "magnetic healer" treated his office janitor who had bent over, felt a click in his back, and became deaf. Palmer discovered a slight misalignment in the man's spine. After some manipulation, the janitor's hearing was restored.
- F.M. Alexander, founder of the method named for him, had his own term for those times when we go unconscious and operate on auto-pilot: the "startle reflex pattern." (Alexander also met with considerable resistance from the medical establishment.)
- The Chinese word qi translates as "breaths." A Japanese dictionary defines qi as mind, spirit, or heart. It also lists hundreds of expressions that use the word, most of them ordinary ways of talking about moods, attitudes, or character. For example, genqi means "source of qi", or health. Qi is a real force made up of electric, magnetic, infrasonic and infra-red vibrations. They can be intuitively perceived and mentally directed.
- During the great plagues of early Europe, aromatic oils were somewhat effective in lowering death rates. By the 17th century, aphrodisiac properties were well recognized. During World War II, Dr. Jean Valnet of France found various essences remarkably regenerative and antiseptic for soldiers.
- The digestive system is particularly susceptible to stress.
- Another way to define F.M. Alexander's "end gaining" is this: the tendency to act compulsively -- reacting too quickly and immediately to a stimulus, without thinking.
- When we're cut off from our environment, we suffer a loss of connection between our arms and back. Our gaze becomes fixed, our breath held -- there is a connection between the two. (The Latin word for "man" is vir, as in virile. Thus, en-vir-onment means "that which surrounds man.")
- "Possession of property is a means to happiness, not an end."
-- Thomas Jefferson
- When you watch any highly experienced tai chi practitioner, you'll see how they operate in almost a trance-like state -- a separate world where they can't be touched.
- The tan den is about the size of a golf ball, about one-third of the way from the surface of your abdomen to your back. The author places it four finger-widths below the navel, but I've also heard it placed at two to three finger-widths below.
- According to Chinese medicine, the kidneys are the most important organs, for they store the chi.
- When we are truly relaxed, patterns of brain waves move into the alpha state. In this zone, the brain triggers endorphins which boost the immune system.
- In the Middle East, one way of slipping into the meditative state is through "worry beads." Strings of these, clicking with an orderly rhythm, are passed through the fingers at difficult moments to help focus the mind and calm anxiety. (Here's a case for a rhythmic pacing of a massage sequence.)
- Meditation needs to be approached like regular exercise -- you have to pencil in the time and make it a priority.
From "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Reflexology" (1999), by Frankie Avalon Wolfe, PhD
Some books in the "Idiot's" series are OK, but this one gets a little chummy (probably as directed by the publisher). Overall, the information is strong, but the author suffers under the common delusion that writing more = saying more.
- One of the most common side effects of detoxifying the body will be a loosening of the bowels. (Just go on the Atkins diet and find out yourself.) Other side effects related to the detoxifying aspect of reflexology is a clearing of mucus from the lungs, foul breath (from toxins in the lungs that have broken free), and skin eruptions, which include rashes.
- Don't work on babies' feet too deeply.
- Oftentimes the first reflexology session is not as effective as subsequent treatments. In the beginning with a new client, aim for a few sessions spaced perhaps a week apart before you settle down into a long-term pattern of every month or two weeks.
- Hering's Law of Cure: "All healing starts from the head down, from the inside out, and in reverse order as the symptoms have appeared."
- "Foolish the doctor who despises the knowledge acquired by the ancients."
-- Hippocrates, Entering the World
- The tomb of Ankhmahar is located at Saqqara, Egypt. In 1979, a pictograph was discovered here, dating to 2500 BC, depicting four Egyptians giving and receiving a reflexology treatment. The inscription is said to read, "Don't hurt me." In reply, the practitioner says, "I shall act so you praise me."
- The author visited an Ayurvedic spa run by two doctors from Banaras University in Varanasi, India. Both doctors believe that all illness is caused by a nutritional deficiency and/or a buildup of toxins in the system.
- In the words of Christ, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand. If you wash your feet, your whole body is clean. If you wash each other's, you will be blessed."
- "There should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every other part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part rejoices with it."
-- 1 Corinthians 12:21
- Eunice Ingham (mentioned above) was known to use a pencil eraser to reach points hard to properly stimulate with just the fingers. (Try those erasers that we had in grade school, the kind with the wedges on the ends. Dr. William Fitzgerald, an early practitioner in the field, was said to use a comb on the hands and fingers so he could hit several points at once.)
- Symptoms of anemia (which is basically a low blood count) include a poor resistance to infection.
- There is an old natural-health saying: "Death begins in the colon."
- Beware the overuse of aspartame.
- When you lay down, facing up, do your feet gravitate outward? If so, your hip flexors may be overly taut.
- If your diet is deficient in minerals, your body can reach into its "stash" found in the hair, nails, teeth, and bones.
- (The heel of your hand marks the pelvic line. Notice how its curvature resembles that of the buttocks.)
- When you die, the only stone that should be left unturned is the one that marks your grave.
- To find the reflex for the pituitary gland (on each big toe), examine the swirl of the toe print and aim right for the bull's-eye. To stimulate this gland, you need to press in and up at the same time. If you or the recipient feels a little charge, bingo. This reaction is especially noticeable in those who have calcium deposits building up on their brain. Use the same procedure for locating the pituitary reflex on the thumbs.
- The pineal gland, located slightly behind and above the pituitary, can calcify with old age. Together, the pineal and pituitary are associated with enhanced dreaming, and they may be helpful in controlling weight and insomnia.
- The overuse of caffeine and other stimulants can weaken the adrenal system.
- Emotionally speaking, the lungs are associated with grief.
- Sometimes when you break up crystallization on the foot, the sensation can be like stepping on a sharp rock.
- Imbalances in the circulatory system may even lead to loss of hair.
- Potassium in the diet fosters thicker hair, better muscle tone, and a stronger heart.
- Symptoms of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) include cold hands and feet, in addition to blurred vision. Moderate your intake of caffeine, alcohol, and salt.
- When the bloodstream is overloaded with toxins, the closest organ of elimination is the skin. As a result, a vigorous reflexology session can produce a slight rash or maybe even a body odor that one is not accustomed to.
- The pores on the soles of the feet are some of the largest on the body.
- In ancient times, the thyroid gland was considered "the third ovary."
- As you work the big toe, some recipients may feel goosebumps on the scalp.
- When you provide reflexology for someone else, your own brain and sinus reflexes are being worked on at the same time. (I almost always get an "unexplained" rush after completing a massage, similar to a "runner's high.")
- Rotating the large toe is like doing neck rolls. If you feel "crunchies" while doing this, chances are that the person has a stiff neck or some vertebral misalignment. In addition to the goosebumps, the client may mention a pulsating or crawling sensation in the scalp or neck.
- The vibrational frequency of humans can be measured in kilohertz (kHz). A healthy human ranges in frequency from 62 to 78 kHz. It is believed we're receptive to colds at 58, flu at 56 to 57, and cancer at 42. At 25 kHz, death begins. Essential oils start at 52 kHz and range as high as 320, and may in fact help increase our own frequencies. In a Johns Hopkins study, coffee dropped one man's frequency from 67 to 48, and smoking a cigarette took another man from 65 to 42. Other tests demonstrated that negative thoughts can decrease one's frequency by as much as 12 kHz.
- We're familiar with lines in the hands, but notice lines in the feet as well. In the author's experience, lines emanating from the spinal reflex (medial side of the feet), may indicate stress, tension and mental strain in the central nervous system.
- The skin is as clean as the bloodstream, and the blood is as clean as the bowels. Therefore, cleaning the bowels may get at the root cause of adult acne. Other than constipation, acne can also be caused by a hormonal imbalance. When the bowel is sluggish, other organs of elimination (skin, urinary tract, even the respiratory system) try to compensate. As a result, they can experience the negative side effects of a toxic overload.
- Sometimes a deep reflexology session will provoke, for lack of a better term, a "healing crisis." It's really the result of the body becoming strong enough to fend off old toxins that have settled in the tissues. It sometimes appears when a person makes significant improvements in their lifestyle, including better nutrition and more exercise. How to tell a "healing crisis" from an illness? For one, healing crises usually provoke but one symptom, whereas an illness can invoke a host of them. An illness often results in fatigue, whereas in a healing crisis a person retains their energy. The symptoms of a healing crisis are usually acute, as opposed to a slow buildup then longer-lasting effects. Finally, the symptoms of a healing crisis get progressively better, as opposed to continuously worse.
- When someone is under a great deal of stress and/or worry, the best reflex to work -- on the hands as well as the feet -- is that of the solar plexus.
From "Acupressure's Potent Points" (1990), by Michael Reed Gach.
The last thing we want is a cookbook/paint-by-numbers approach such as "press this point, alleviate this condition." Instead, let's focus on some of the underlying principles Gach suggests, picking out the most beneficial and proactive of acupressure points along the way.
- According to Dr. Stephen Chang (The Complete Book of Acupuncture, 1976), acupressure has origins that appear to be somewhat accidental. Early Chinese warriors, stung by the stones and arrows of war, sometimes reported unexplained cures from long-term ailments. Physicians could discover no logical relationships, but over time patterns emerged regarding points on the body and their associated effects.
- Acupressure has also been used as a beauty treatment for thousands of years, helping to reduce wrinkles and improve skin tone. In ancient China, acupressure was also used as a complementary treatment with chiropractic.
- In addition to points that help relieve various conditions, acupressure also recognizes tonic points. These are more proactive in scope, helping to improve one's overall condition and maintain general health (and are of far more interest to me in developing and improving a proactive-style massage).
- To the degree you can, use your middle finger -- supported by the fingers on either side -- instead of your thumb. The middle one is more sensitive (it's been called the "fire finger" for this reason), and it is the longest and strongest of your fingers.
- After repeated attempts using different degrees of pressure, you'll begin to feel a pulse at the point you're working on. This is a good sign, meaning the circulation is improving. If the circulation is either very faint or throbbing, hold the point longer until the pulse balances out. You want to feel it clearly, regularly, or until the pain eases.
- Don't work any single area of the body for more than 15 minutes at a time. You can release too much energy, and this can lead to nausea and headaches.
- Deep breathing encourages potent points to release, and it promotes healing energy to flow throughout the body.
- If a point is sore when pressed, this often indicates poor circulation (as do cold spots).
- Apply finger pressure in a slow, rhythmic manner to enable the layers of tissue and the internal organs to respond.
- After an acupressure session the body is more vulnerable, so it must be kept extra warm. During the session, body heat is lowered, increasing one's susceptibility to catching a cold. Tensions have been released and the body's vital energies are concentrating inward to maximize healing.
- Limit your intake of coffee, including decaffeinated.
- The Third Eye Point (Governing Vessel 24.5), located between the eyebrows, stimulates the pituitary gland. This is the master endocrine gland, and stimulation here enhances the condition of the skin throughout the body.
- The word "anxiety" comes from the Latin angustia, meaning "shortness of breath." Notice the similarity to the word "angst" (a feeling of apprehension or insecurity). The author says the word "anxiety" comes from a Latin root meaning "twisted rope."
- "There is no anxiety in love, but perfect love casts out anxiety."
-- 1 John 4:18
- "Anxiety weighs down the human heart, but a good word cheers it up."
-- Proverbs 12:25
- A point that can counteract anxiety is called the Sea of Tranquility (Conception Vessel 17), located in the center of the breastbone. Also, nervousness and anxiety can be greatly relieved by deeper breathing. Other spots for relieving anxiety (a condition that's rampant in our society) are:
- Heavenly Rejuvenation (Triple Heater 15), on the midpoint of the shoulders and about one inch down the trapezius.
- Heavenly Pillar (Bladder 10), located a finger-width below the occipital ridge, on the erector spinae.
- Crooked Marsh (Pericardium 3), on the inside of the arm toward the medial end of the elbow crease.
- Inner Gate (Pericardium 6), in the middle of the inner forearm, two and a half finger widths (cuns) from the crease of the wrist.
- Third Eye Point
- Spirit Gate (Heart 7), at the crease of the wrist, inner side of the forearm, at the base of the little finger. (Note that you are working the pelvic-floor line of the hand.)
- Acupressure is particularly effective for relieving non-articular (non-joint related) rheumatism (sometimes used as a catch-word for "whatever bothers you.") This soft-tissue condition, also referred to as myofibrosis or fibrositis, has symptoms similar to rheumatoid arthritis, such as morning stiffness, muscle tenderness, debilitating fatigue, and often depression (which may be muscle related?).
- The majority of sciatica and lower-back problems are related to stress, poor posture, accidents, or weak abdominal muscles.
- The point behind the knee (B54, or Bladder 54), is noted for alleviating lower-back pain. The Chinese called it Commanding Middle. Ditto for a point near the center of the buttocks called Womb and Vitals, located at Bladder 48. You can also work the Sea of Energy (CV 6, or Conception Vessel), located two finger-widths (cuns) below the navel (approximately in front of the main/lower tan den).
- Chronic fatigue can be treated at the point called Letting Go, located at Lung 1 at the front of the chest, just below the outer edge of each clavicle. Also work the Gates of Consciousness (Gall Bladder 20), located in the hollows on either side of the midpoint of the occipital ridge, spaced about two to three inches apart from each other.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (Epstein/Barr) is widely believed to be a viral infection. The weakening of the immune system, which allows the virus to thrive, may occur as a result of exposure to environmental pollutants or as a consequence of severe stress. For some of these people, it is evident that life situations at the time of occurrence had been “overwhelming.” (Gerald Epstein MD, Creating Health Through Imagery, 1989)
- The accumulation of lactic acids is aggravated by tense muscles that don't allow them to dissipate. This leads to a vicious cycle leading to yet more muscle tension.
- The Vital Diaphragm (Bladder 38) is located just off the medial edge of each scapula, near its center or midway point, at the level of the heart. It helps balance emotions and relieve the blues. Another spot that serves this function is the Elegant Mansion (Kidney 27). It's located between the clavicle and first rib, just outside the breastbone. This point also boosts the immune system.
- When your eyes feel achy or strained, it's often a signal that you're under stress and your whole body is tired.
- For migraines, be sure to work on the Wild Mansion (Governing Vessel 16), located at the midpoint of the occipital ridge. (This point, the medulla oblongata, is also emphasized by Mildred Carter and Chris Jarmey on this site.)
- Off the upper medial tip of each scapula is a point called Bearing Support (Bladder 36). It governs resistance, especially to colds and flu. The most important point for building resistance is the above-mentioned Sea of Tranquility, which decreases anxiety by regulating the thymus gland. Two other points along each bladder meridian also aid in improving resistance. They're known as the Sea of Vitality (Bladder 23 & 47), between L2 and L3, working outward from the spine for two to four finger widths (of the client). (Jarmey mentions this point as well.) Also work the famous Three Mile Point (also called Walk Three More Miles by Chinese armies). It's at Stomach 36, located in the little notch where the tibia meets the fibula. If you're on the right spot, you'll feel a muscle flex as you lift your foot.
- Midway between the inner ankle and the achilles is an often-mentioned spot called Bigger Stream (Kidney 3). In addition to strengthening the immune system, it helps relieve fatigue.
- Impotence in males can be attributed to drugs, alcohol, white sugar, excess fluids, exposure to cold, excess fatigue, and chronic lower-back problems. A flexible pelvic area leads to a greater depth of sexual feeling, and the experience of orgasm can deepen. For impotence, pay particular attention to the variety of bladder points located on the sacrum.
- An overall relaxation point that can assist with impotence is Bubbling Springs (Kidney 1), about one-third of the way from the toes to the heal of the foot (on the diaphragm line), in the center. (I bend the front-third of the foot over K1). Be sure to work the Bigger Stream (mentioned above) as well.
- It normally takes months of daily practice to relieve impotence (just a week to ten days of alcohol abstinence, if that's the sole problem.)
- "When one encounters an obstruction, one should not strive blindly to go ahead, for this only leads to complications. The correct thing is, on the contrary, to retreat for a time being, not in order to give up the struggle, but to await the right moment for action. Ordinarily it is best to go around an obstruction and try to overcome it along the line of least resistance."
-- from the I Ching, or Book of Changes
- Eating a lot of sugar strains the pancreas, which according to traditional Chinese medicine is damaging to your memory as well as your mental and emotional stability.
- The most widely used point for relieving general pain is called Hoku, or Joining the Valley (Large Intestine 4), located in the webbing on the back of the hand between the thumb and index finger.
- Chronic shoulder tension can inhibit circulation to your arms and hands, making them feel cold. It can even affect the legs and feet.
From "The Alexander Principle: How to Use Your Body Without Stress" (1973), by Wilfred Barlow, MD.
Barlow worked closely with F.M. (Frederick Matthias) Alexander for ten years, and was a consultant to Britain's National Health Service.
- According to the physician Paracelsus (1493-1541), many scientific dogmas, while honored by time, "are not worth a goose's turd."
- By the age of 18, only 5% of the population is free from physical defects.
- The way people use their muscles effects the way their voices function.
- Users of the Alexander Technique appear more adaptable to life's many situations. Their overall health appears better as well.
- As we age, we're more susceptible to compressions of the neck. This impinges upon nerve roots that affect, among other things, breathing and heart rate and blood pressure.
- Don't put too much stock in some innate "wisdom of the body." The body is frequently stupid.
- If you don't think back pain is a moral virtue, then don't cross your legs.
- Most people don't know how to achieve a restful state of muscular activity. They have more of an investment in old holding patterns that don't work, for these are more comfortable and reassuring.
- Many top athletes become pathetically erratic at crunch time, and the source of the problem can be pinpointed in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. In between moments of peak performance, they don't know how to return to a state of proper resting balance.
- One of the clearest indications of neurotic personality is excessive sway during movement.
- Over-contraction of muscles makes it nearly impossible for most of us to achieve a proper resting state. As a result, we lack vitality and creativity.
- When someone is in a state of tension, there's actually a fear of return to a state of rest. Tension becomes the comfortable territory.
- Modern medicine does not concern itself with the prevention of disease, but with survival of its machinery.
- "Rheumatism" -- an ill-defined, catch-all phrase -- can't be seen as a breakdown in a localized part of the body; it should be taken in the context of a misuse of the entire body. For instance, it is wrong to treat a painful back as a local condition. It is always accompanied and preceded by misuse of the entire body.
- Rheumatoid patients, in the early stages of the condition, tend to be "wrigglers" -- in a state of muscular agitation. Their exaggerated homeostatic swings need to be damped down.
- There is a very high correlation between personality disorder and misuse of the body.
- Most blood vessels transverse or are surrounded by muscles, so any over-contraction of muscle is bound to increase blood pressure.
- The author has worked with a large number of heart-attack patients, and he's yet to see one without excessive muscular contraction in the upper chest.
- The well-integrated person is less prone to accidents.
- We can't let isolated parts of the body gain control over the well-being of the whole.
- An overwhelming number of patients who visit doctors, for whatever reason, display a sense of fatigue and loss of vitality.
- Buttock and thigh tension are almost part-and-parcel of sexual problems.
- The mentally sick are almost always physically tense.
- Even when we engage in mere thought, this results in tiny patterns of muscular use. (The role of meditation becomes evident here.)
- In his book The Expressions of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872), Charles Darwin used the term "expressive action." This denotes movement, gestures and attitudes from which the existence of an underlying state can be inferred. Darwin considered that "such movements of expression reveal the thoughts of others more truly than do words, which may be falsified."
- In his Confessions, St. Augustine wrote in the fifth century: "Their intention became apparent through their bodily movement, as it were the natural language of all peoples."
- In his practice, the author never met a neurotic person who did not display muscular distortions.
- It should be a priority in mental treatment to achieve a best possible resting state and balance before proceeding further.
- The texture of our skin is destroyed by tension.
- Three parts of the body can inhibit the experience of sexuality. First, the muscles of the head and neck, which Alexander considered primary in importance. (Distortions in the pelvis will eventually reach the neck.) Second, the muscles of the chest and abdomen, as they affect breathing. Third, the muscles of the lower back, pelvis and thighs, as these affect genital movement. Not only during sexual activity but in many other ways, breathing is inseparable from the handling of the emotional life of each one of us. The folklore of several countries includes breathing-out techniques in order to induce sensual feeling. In Britain, it included breathing out fully while at the same time contracting the pelvis and thighs. At one girls' boarding school in England, they'd try this technique and say, "Come on girls, let's urge!"
- Regarding sexuality, the muscles most often found to be over-contracted are the gluteals, the quads, and the adductors.
- Even the most sophisticated of lovers will find that both he and his partner are thrown out of gear by muscular distortions which seem to appear for no apparent reason and which may effectively kill off feeling and desire and the natural progression toward orgasm. In additional, the muscular problems can modify both the quality and timing of feelings so that both are unsatisfactory.
- Excessive muscular tension can even kill the earliest stirrings of erotic feeling. It takes a lot to shut these feelings down, but the muscular contractions gradually and insidiously build up in a person until they become part and parcel of the character structure.
- Once an unblocked state is achieved, the client must feel comfortable and assured in this renewed condition, otherwise he'll return to his old patterns.
- The release of tension may lead to anxiety -- or tears or laughter or anger -- anything to distract one's attention from the unfamiliar release into a non-tense state.
- Like Ida Rolf, Alexander also mentioned the "upward sensation" of release (the orthotropic effect) accompanied by a feeling of lightness. The author notes that many mystical experiences report this component of "up-ness." (Marghanita Laski, Ecstasy, 1961) [Personally, I do not recall this aspect as being part of my own mystical experiences, but I can accept that such experiences foster a muscular re-patterning and harmonization, just as they re-pattern awareness and beliefs.]
- The rebel is not necessarily a revolutionary. He has no wish to exploit anyone, but simply a desire to escape from the "deadening octopus" of mediocrity which tells him to be as dull as everyone else.
- Even in the balanced resting state, a slight oscillation of the musculature is always present.
- If you focus less on the end result and allow yourself to settle more into the moment, the next course of action will present itself to you. (This is my take, which I believe is correct, on Alexander's prime concept of giving up "end-gaining": paying too much attention to the ends or the result, without focusing on the present. During my mystical episodes, one of the overpowering direct experiences was of this nature: that the next course of action will unfold itself to you in life, moment by moment. This is not a concept, it is the truth, which cannot be "figured out," no matter how hard your mind tries.)
From "The Secrets of Reflexology" (2000), by Chris McLaughlin & Nicola Hall.
A tiny handbook put out by Dorling Kindersley publishers and Natural Health magazine. Not especially informative. At the time of publication, Hall was the head of the British Reflexology Association.
- Of the three lines that transverse the foot horizontally, the one that passes from ankle to ankle is known as the pelvic floor line. It runs at about a 45 degree angle, starting slightly above the rear of the heal. On the hand, the pelvic floor line divides the lower boundary of the hand from the wrist, at the crease.
- Treating these wrist and heal points can promote sexual health and function, helping to restore energy balance.
- Pay special attention to the solar plexus point, at or near Kidney 1 on the foot. This is a particularly effective relaxation point.
From "Spinal Manipulation Made Simple" (2001), by Jeffrey Maitland
This book concentrates on restricted movement in the spine, ribs, neck, and sacro-iliac area. I find most of the techniques beyond the scope of the 60 to 75-minute massage routine most of us offer, yet it's the general observations of Maitland that merit repeating here.
- The author is a Rolfing instructor who's been worked on by many other professionals, a number of whom claim to be "different" or "unique." He found that just a relative few are truly outstanding, and none of those were truly unique -- what makes them stand apart is what they share in common with other great practitioners across various disciplines.
- Rotated vertebrae with restricted facet joints are "more common than flowers in the spring." As a yardstick, you will often find that the soft tissues associated with problem facets are tender or painful when you apply pressure.
- If we develop our powers of palpation, we need rely less on memory and conceptual thought.
- Even if clients don't complain about problems in their necks, you'll probably still find some.
- If you get your hands to feel out a situation first, then technique and theory will come more easily.
- The human body has a proclivity for finding its way back to normal functioning when given permission. But you can't anticipate what the body wants to do as it transitions from one position to another -- this is a very common mistake. You have to let it go where it wants.
- Many clients have a difficult time relinquishing control of their necks to your hands. The more stable and secure they can feel in your hands, the more they can give up this control.
- Imagine a snake trying to undulate through the grass if it were tied up with tight rubber bands along the length of its body. It wouldn't get very far. Now imagine that these rubber bands were joint fixations along a person's spine, including his or her sacro-iliac joint. Their experience of life is diminished almost to the extent of the poor snake.
- The mere mechanical application of technique is not nearly as effective as informed touch.
- If you draw a line across the iliac crest, it passes right through L4.
- Dysfunctional rib torsions usually result from vertebral rotations. A rib in trouble can often cause more pain than a dysfunctional vertebra. You can often release rib dysfunctions just by releasing the rigid vertebra.
- If you successfully release a dysfunctional thoracic vertebra, your client will probably report feeling better right away. But if you don't release the associated rib fixation, you can expect to hear how the pain returned within a few hours or days.
- When clients have fixed ribs, it's quite common for them to experience pain at the edge of their scapula.
- Imbalances and injury patterns result in a complicated loss of inherent plasticity and adaptation throughout the entire body.
- With some clients who've been physically or sexually abused, every attempt you make to manipulate the pelvis and lower back is met with unconscious resistance.
- Ida Rolf (examined on the previous page) introduced an important concept called the "Support Principle." Basically stated, it means that if the entire body is not ready to accept the changes you introduce, it will do one of two things, or both: It will return to its prior state of dysfunction, or it will drive the strain elsewhere. For example, if the client's hamstrings are pulling down on the pelvic region like a tug-of-war match, your work on the pelvis and lumbar region will be ineffectual to that extent.
- Working on the feet and legs tends to produce upward release through the rest of the body.
- Too many soft-tissue practitioners apply excessive pressure, especially if using their elbows or knuckles. You can cause tissue damage, and the excess force interferes with your ability to experience the orthotropic effect (the body's tendency to self-correct and become more upright).
- Any time you release sacro-iliac or lumbar facet fixations, check the hamstrings, gluteals, pelvic rotators, adductors, quadratus lumborum, and psoas. Look for strain, tightness and imbalances from side to side.
- Long after pressure on the nerve root has been alleviated, sciatic pain can be maintained by a tight piriformis muscle.
- Tight hamstrings almost always contribute to strain and fixation through the lumbar and pelvic regions. In the author's experience, releasing hamstrings often allows the sacrum to relax out of a dysfunctional rotation.
- Every lumbar vertebra attaches to the psoas, so the implications are clear. The psoas acts as one of the guy wires on the tent pole we call the spine. (I picture the spine more as a cell-phone tower with metal cables -- guy wires -- providing the essential stability.)
- Manipulating dysfunctionally shortened adductors will greatly contribute to your attempt to release the sacrum and lumbars. (I always work on them, and my own adductors tend to tighten up by mid-summer from running and biking. It's a daily challenge to keep them loose without sacrificing prime workout season.) The adductors are intimately connected with the psoas, so working on them entails working on the other.
- When working the neck, always include work on the sub-occipital muscles (I can't imagine not). New dissection procedures have revealed the existence of a previously unknown muscle and ligament complex that extends from the sub-occipitals to the dura mater that surrounds the brain. (!?!) (The term dura mater means "hard or tough membrane." The dura mater is one of the meninges. The Arabians believed the meninges -- three membranes covering the spinal cord and brain -- gave rise to all the membranes of the body, hence the term mater, meaning mother. So, dura mater = "durable mother.")
- The rhomboids are always involved in rib restrictions.
- Don't worry so much about asymmetries in the body. Focus on restrictions. If a segment seems to be in an odd position but it works the way it should, don't mess with it.
- The author also mentions the work of Rudolf Steiner (mentioned by Ryokyu Endo below) and his book Goethian Science.
"When your body is not aligned,
The inner power will not come.
When you are not tranquil within,
Your mind will not be well-ordered.
Align your body, assist the inner power,
Then it will gradually come on its own."
-- reference to Nei-Yeh (inward training), from ancient Taoist poetry
From "The New Shiatsu Method" (2004), by Ryokyu Endo
Rating: Outstanding -- an essential addition to your bodywork library. The author was a student of master teacher Shizuto Masunaga (1925-1981) whose Zen Shiatsu is examined below. This book is an expansion upon Masunaga's work. It features a logical eloquence combined with a powerful economy of words.
- Conventional shiatsu methods can actually build up a resistance within the body toward effective treatment.
- Take traditional acupuncture charts with a huge grain of salt. They merely represent approximations where the probability of contacting a tsubo is highest. The traditional charts can even be inaccurate, containing many errors. Part of their superficiality may actually be intentional.
- Nor do meridians make sharp angles as shown on the charts. They flow, as does nature, in very natural curves.
- Stagnated ki goes by the term jaki. Free-flowing ki is seiki. The real source of a person’s symptoms is the attempt to release jaki.
- When there is poor circulation in the major meridians, energy flow can take a bypass route: the Governing and Conception vessels.
- It was perhaps out of convenience that ancient charts show certain meridians located in only the arms, while others are located only in the legs. It was assumed that readers understood all meridians to have channels in both the arms and the legs.
- Additionally, each meridian has ring or spiral streams.
- The depth of a tsubo can change from moment to moment. It cannot be intellectualized. (As Werner Erhard said, “The truth, believed, is a lie.”) This is why we must adapt to our client’s felt need from moment to moment.
- When the bottom of a tsubo is reached, it “echoes” back toward you.
- Ancient Chinese referred to the receiver’s ki response as mei, which can be translated as “light” with a connotation of “wisdom.” Oriental medicine itself was perceived as “the light.”
- A full, standardized shiatsu sequence for the entire body is known as Basic Form.
- Boshin: energy diagnosis by way of observation.
- At times, practitioners in the East considered Master Masunaga to be a little crazy.
- Each main meridian has two spiral streams that begin at the top of the head. From there they end at the tip of the middle finger and the soles of the feet.
- You can’t assume that you know what ki is without some direct experience of it.
- Don’t fall into the trap of believing you help people based upon your self-ability. The accumulation of knowledge and technique is never fully effective. It will provide only fleeting moments of success at best.
- You don’t develop as a practitioner by learning the charts by rote. You develop by expanding your empathic abilities to the point where you can actually experience meridians.
- Conflict with others causes ki to become heavy and rigid.
- The release of jaki can lead, as we know, to some of the documented reactions associated with the 24 hours following a massage. These reactions can include skin rash, a mild bout of nausea, etc., and they sometimes go by the term of the Menken Response. One way to diminish this response is by deliberately guiding jaki through and out the limbs.
- When jaki moves toward the limbs it’s not always discharged fully. It can accumulate at joints, particularly the ankles.
- “Developed” nations foster lifestyles that are increasingly self-absorbed and individualistic. In such a context, ki becomes increasingly internalized.
- Approaching a tsubo as a fixed point will often produce no response or benefit.
- If you tune in and imagine where the client most wants and needs to be touched, you can hone in on depressions (kyo) whose center will feel like the tip of a grain of rice. Let go of where you want to press -- focus on the client.
- This "tip of rice" is the sha point where ki is most concentrated. Consider it not so much a physical spot but rather an expression of ki.
- Sometimes this tip will "echo" as energy travels to the point of pain or disturbance.
- In Japan there is a saying, "There is no second generation in a great master's time." This reflects the observation that the master usually dies before his teachings have been fully passed on.
- We cannot feel the rice tip with our ordinary sense of touch. It must be experienced from a different part of our brain, the part that's developed by empathy. You can even do harm to the client's ki if you insist on touching in only a physical fashion.
- Acupuncture charts display meridians that switch directions at sharp angles. In actuality, meridian streams flow in very natural curves. Classic texts don't depict meridian charts. They do however display the classic points.
- It is written in the classics: "You cannot teach the treasures of heaven to just anyone." The author infers, therefore, that classic charts are merely guideposts.
- It seems that much of the focus of modern Western medicine is under the control of the pharmaceutical companies. Increasingly, they dictate the treatments available to doctors for their patients.
- As you press, imagine how the client is feeling -- in each and every moment. Visualize the client's entire body in that single point.
- The observation that energy lines that flow in a person's ki body (which extends beyond the physical body), was discussed by the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925).
- If we resist the impulse to "try to find" kyo points and lines, our finger will naturally stop at the right spot. You know it's right when you feel the client's relaxation response.
- By developing our "empathetic imagination," we can locate meridians without referring to charts.
- Our ego depends upon conscious knowledge and information. By surrendering the ego for a time, the receiver's ki will appear more clearly.
- One of the most fundamental principles of Eastern philosophies is that the whole is contained within each and every part. (This is a point that can't be figured out, but it can be gotten, so says thousands of years of wisdom.) Each tsubo contains and reflects the whole of the body, and shiatsu must reach its bottom depth. When accessed correctly, the tsubo will then push back up against the thumb or finger. This indicates that the proper flow of ki is being restored.
- When the location of a tsubo remains unclear, this indicates a perception of separation between giver and receiver.
- All meridians pass through the hara (abdomen).
- Concentrate your empathetic imagination deeply.
- When you see through your heart, the dimension of time alters.
- At one point in his career, the author experienced moving into new realms not charted by master teacher Masunaga. He says, and I can relate to this statement, "I was now proceeding alone, yet felt I had no other option but to continue." The author also says he felt a strange loneliness at breaking new ground.
- Answers can become clear by concentrating your heart.
- The Conception and Governing Vessels are traditionally charted as traveling through the core of the body. In the author's experience, they also stream through the limbs.
- The body also contains "ring meridians" that stream horizontally.
- Each main meridian has two spiral streams.
- We have to step beyond "common sense" and the limitations of the conscious mind.
- Meridians are merely reflections of our more significant ki body that can extend outward for several feet. The ki body can only be experienced. When it's accessed, the recipient feels a certain "fitting" experience, a sense of wholeness. The existence of the ki body is described in the Kabbalah of Judaism, where it is said to extend about 7+ feet from the physical body.
- A common trap we can fall into is believing we're tapping into tsubos based on our own ability.
- Healing is not a function of technical proficiency. It's a function of heart, tempered with humility.
- There is nothing very mystical about all this! Maintain a sense of humor, and avoid being too serious about yourself. Work without calculation or trying to "get something back."
- When applying pressure, allow your elbows to bend naturally when the tsubo starts pressing back at you.
- When the subconscious is not suppressed, it knows what's true or false.
- By getting into the proper frame of mind, you can trust more of the actual doingness to your subconscious or the Tao.
- To live the richest of lives, we must strive to take care of others. The alternative is to spend our time calculating how to enhance our individual security.
- According to Saint Paul: "Although I have the prophetic gift and see through every secret and through all that may be known, and have sufficient faith to move mountains, but I have no love, I am nothing."
-- 1 Corinthians 13:2
" There are two ways of exerting one's strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up."
-- Booker T. Washington
From "Beyond Basic Training: Fitness Strategies for Men" (2004), by Jon Giswold
There isn't much here you can't get from a few articles in a men's magazine. However, Giswold (a personal trainer in Manhattan) did manage to make a couple good points:
- The Pilates system emphasizes precision of movement -- quality over quantity. (The same goes for the quality of repeating a mantra during meditation. By the way, when movement is precise, we can cut down on our workout times.)
- The core of our body forms a "tin can" around the torso. It's the place from which effective movement emanates. The lower boundary is the pelvic floor, and the upper boundary is the diaphragm. (The PC of the pelvic floor has been described as the lower diaphragm.)
- If the pelvic floor is overstretched (flaccid) or gripping (tight) and cannot relax or contract (just sitting there like dried leather), we lack a solid base of support. Without such a base we can easily lose our balance.
- Strapping around the cylinder are the transverse abdominus (acting as a type of corset) and the multifidus. These two muscle areas should co-contract and work as a unit to tighten the midsection and provide the spine with a gentle lift.
- Strengthening the core muscles is a vital -- and often overlooked -- part of an effective exercise regimen.
- It is easier to strengthen the transverse abdominus and the obliques than the abs. In addition, they give you a slimmer look when they're toned, whereas abs have little to do with the size of your waist.
- Throughout the ages, many great teachers have suggested that spirit (life force) occurs in the space between our thoughts. (This is an important point that will be revisited on this site.)
"When all is said and done, more is said than done."
-- football coach Lou Holtz
From "Thai Massage" (2004), by Ananda Apfelbaum
Despite a couple good points, this book will not go down as one of the essential texts of Thai bodywork.
- The "Six Perfections" of Buddhism are: a spirit of generosity, ethical discipline, patience, enthusiastic effort, concentration, and wisdom. (As I read about meditation and self-improvement, including the role of yoga, I see frequent references to the power of concentration but less mention of the equally important function of discipline.)
- First sentence of chapter one: "What greater gift can one give than the gift of love?" (Thank you, we know that.)
- Massage is capable of increasing one's levels of serotonin, the same neurotransmitter that responds to the antidepressant Prozac (which is said to boost the levels of serotonin available to the brain).
- "We do not concentrate on the illness, but on the entire body."
-- Wataru Ohashi, Do-It-Yourself Shiatsu (2001)
- The author speaks of "Thai massage therapists." They are masseurs. (Let's not impose our stultifying perspectives upon them.)
- Forms of reflexology date back to a variety of older cultures including China, India, Egypt, the American Indian, and the Incas.
- We're only up to page 11, and the author is already using that hallmark phrase of rank amateurs and poseurs: "As mentioned before."
- (Without displaying the commensurate academic arsenal or crisp writing skills, the author slips in the "BCE/CE" designation of years, instead of the standard "BC/AD". For my tastes, BCE/CE carries the baggage of political correctness, rigidity of thought, and socially walking on eggshells. In the name of trendiness and the guise of "inclusion," it is a violation of the human spirit.)
- Energy pathways in the body (meridians/sen) are not adequately captured by charts and maps. According to Ryokyu Endo (Tao Shiatsu, 1995), they are best perceived through personal experience (palpation).
- There is evidence that Thai culture arose from an ocean-based civilization in the western Pacific. (See the works of Edgar Cayce for a discussion of the land of Lemuria, sometimes referred to as Mu.) Thailand is the only country in southeast Asia never taken over by a European power.
- It is important to remember that the toes and fingers are the exchange points where the complementary sen and meridian lines converge.
- On the arms, there is little if any correspondence between Chinese meridians and Thai sen lines.
- Thai massage is noted for its emphasis on the legs. Leg work has a ripple effect upon the pelvis and the sexual organs housed there.
- The Thai term for massage is Nuad Boran, meaning "ancient massage." (I'm getting that part of this term reflects an awareness that we're borrowing a wisdom from earlier times, a type not fully understood at the moment. It may have been handed to us by forces greater than ourselves.)
- Traditional Chinese medicine views wholeness as its starting point. (Good point, and this is reflected in the work of Werner Erhard: The mind deals only with parts. It can understand "getting complete" or "becoming complete", but it can't get wholes, such as "is complete" or "being complete." This is the realm of the Self.)
- Most Thais practice Theravada Buddhism, which teaches that one's ultimate goal is the end of all grasping. (Did you ever notice that this goal is achieved to a degree after a powerful, successful massage? The client is in a semi-daze because they're not grasping at a palliative-of-the-moment, and they're confused because they don't know how to clog up the space they're suddenly experiencing.) Theravada means "doctrine of the elders."
- The author asks a superior question: whether diagrams of sen lines are stylized representations of the body in a form we don't yet understand. (Again, I believe this hints at some enlightened information passed down to our predecessors thousands of years ago.)
- There are ten main sen lines, all of which start at or near the navel. Even experienced Thai masseurs can have difficulty perceiving these lines, and precise knowledge of their locations is not necessary for a standard treatment.
- The most important channels run along the midline of the body.
- According to the widely published Joan Borysenko, the body stores not words but emotions, so it is through the release of emotion that we begin to affect healing.
- "Massage is not technique, but spirit . . . . Listen to the body, for it will tell you what needs to be done."
-- James Mochizuki, teacher and practitioner of Anma
- Satish Kumar is editor of Resurgence magazine. He says that in the West, the habit of practice comes after the presentation of theory. However, from a Sanskrit view of reality, practice comes first. (This echoes the teaching of David Palmer, one of the leading figures in American massage and inventor of the massage chair. He says "We teach the kata (format/framework) which teaches the student massage. The kata is like a wise elder who has the wisdom of the centuries behind him." It transcends individual understanding. "If you trust the kata and develop an honest relationship with it," he says, "you will be rewarded with an unlimited stream of insights.")
- Before giving a Thai massage, says the author, "Bring your hands together in prayer, acknowledging this sacred moment." (Gag me!!!)
- Thai masseurs trade a little story about the Westerner who, complaining of a sore shoulder, comes in for a massage. After a long session, the foreigner is livid that the masseur still hasn't touched his shoulder. To his surprise, he finds the pain is gone, concluding that maybe it really wasn't sore in the first place. (How many times have I told someone who complains of a sore lower back that you need a full-body massage . . . to hell with your back! This also reminds me of the beginning of the old est training, at a point when the ground rules are discussed. Some goofball would predictably raise their hand and ask, "When does the training begin?", to which the leader would respond, "This is the training, you moron!")
- Tightness in the thighs often indicates problems in the lower back and/or abdomen.
- When thumbing, the pressure comes not from the pad of the thumb but through the crease at the middle joint.
- Whenever you press the starting point of any line, visualize and imagine that you are activating the flow of energy along its entire length. (Solid point, in itself almost worth the price of the book.)
- As with the book Thai Bodywork (below), the author illustrates the technique of "walking" up the adductors. This is a powerful release technique that I apply when called for. (The client is supine, with the thigh perpendicular to the trunk of the body, while you sit near their feet and "walk" the adductor and inner thigh with your feet. I find this to be a most effective stretch for hip flexors.)
- The section of this book that describes the actual Thai routine is difficult to follow, but I challenge most anyone to effectively put the process into understandable words.
- The author describes the process of "stopping the blood" at various points and times during the routine. I see danger signs popping up all over the place, and I consider this practice to be far beyond our scope and purpose.
- An adductor stretch can be enhanced by applying foot or hand pressure onto the greater trochanters. (I currently use my hand only as a stabilizer when stretching the adductors, but I can see potential here.)
- Compassion extends to everyone, irrespective of whether the person's attitude toward you is friendly or hostile.
-- The Dalai Lama
- Here's the first sentence of the section called "Squeeze the Neck": "This technique releases the back of the neck." (No shit, and it's this recurring simplicity that's bothersome.)
- Massaging the scalp "helps to prevent memory loss." (That's quite a claim that should have been footnoted.)
- Here's section 198, "Twist the Earlobes," in its entirety: "This technique relaxes the ears." (No foolin'.) "Twist the recipient's earlobes at various places." (Ananda, an article in Cosmo gets more informative than this. Perhaps your recipe isn't quite ready for prime time?)
- Without qualifiers or any degree of hesitation, the author describes cracking the back. Combined with "stopping the blood," I see almost a recklessness here.
- "Only a spontaneous (genuine) feeling of empathy with others can really inspire us to act on their behalf . . . How each of us behaves in daily life is the real test of compassion."
-- The Dalai Lama
From "Zen Shiatsu" (1977), by Shizuto Masunaga & Wataru Ohashi
- Here is yet another solid work that refers to Dr. Hans Selye's The Stress of Life, which is examined on the previous page.
- Diet is the root of good health.
- In 1831, Shinsai Ota published a landmark book called Ampuku Zukai. (Ampuku is a system that promotes deep and gentle abdominal release.) He wrote that honest, sincere and simple shiatsu is preferable to professional shiatsu that's merely technique-oriented.
- In Oriental diagnosis, compassion and empathy for the patient are of prime importance.
- Extreme fatigue diminishes the body’s natural healing power.
- The use of manipulative therapy alone does not penetrate to the fundamental cause of a problem that exists within the energy flow.
- If you focus on someone’s weaknesses, that person becomes nervous and resistant. Kyo points react the same way.
- Oriental setsu-shin (palpation) requires that the practitioner apply steady and firm pressure. This relaxes the sympathetic nervous system, which in turn allows the parasympathetic system to calm the functioning of the internal organs (and the entire body, for that matter).
- Symptoms that appear on the surface are yang, while the root of the disease -- which is deep and hidden -- is yin. Grass grows above the earth and is yang, while the roots below are yin. No matter how many times you cut the grass, it eventually grows back unless you pull out the roots. Likewise, you cannot treat disease by attending only to the yang (obvious) part.
- Even if you're not super-sensitive, you can still feel meridian lines by pressing on the correct tsubos.
- The condition of energy (ki) in the meridian lines is defined by kyo and jitsu, which are similar to yin and yang. Kyo is the condition of depleted energy, and jitsu is a state of excess energy. (Hypo vs. hyper, root vs. grass.)
- It is easier to find the jitsu areas (protrusions) than to find the real source of the problem -- the corresponding hollow areas of kyo (somewhat like the indentations on a golf ball, but larger).
- It takes more time to normalize (tonify/strengthen) kyo areas (jitsu areas call for sedation) because warmth must reach deep inside them to nurture strength. The classic medical books of the Orient compare tonification with waiting for the arrival of a lover -- affectionately, patiently, and without regard to time.
- There is an old Oriental saying (I realize the word 'Oriental' is politically incorrect, but it's the author's usage, and he's Japanese): "Behind every crime, there's a woman." (Talk about politically incorrect!) Likewise, behind every yang or jitsu condition there's an underlying yin or kyo condition.
- When the Liver Meridian is out of balance, this can lead to lack of sexual energy, including impotence.
- In Japanese swordsmanship (kendo), an amateur holds the sword with tensed fingertips. The master holds the sword with his hara -- the seat of his abdomen. He even swings the sword not with his arms but from his hara, a source of significant ki energy. In two-handed shiatsu, the patient feels oneness with you -- deep in his body -- when you concentrate all your energy in your hara.
- In order to tell an amateur from a professional, the author asks them to display their shiatsu technique. Unskilled practitioners blindly concentrate on their fingertips. A master, however, channels ki energy from the hara, in a state of complete relaxation.
- The founder and master of the Japanese Tea Ceremony was named Rikyu (1522-1591). Rikyu once said, "Don't shake your tea whisk with your fingertips, but with your elbow." Similarly, the author advises his students to apply shiatsu not from the strength of the fingertips alone (a quick way of burning out), but from their elbows. This is one of the keys to successful shiatsu.
- When a child playfully crawls on someone's back, she is unintentionally applying good shiatsu pressure. The energy of her being is fully concentrated in every movement, and the child's sincerity penetrates your body as a healing force. It is only when the ego is surrendered that mere pressure on the body becomes a supporting, vital force toward health (and well-being).
- In proper shiatsu, the stationary hand tonifies while the active hand sedates.
- When we observe a magician performing a trick, we're attracted to the hand in motion. However, it's the stationary hand that actually performs the deception. In shiatsu, the supportive (yin) hand provides the penetrating support needed to prepare the body for treatment. Without this force, the manipulation of the hand in motion (yang) will remain superficial and often painful. The interaction between the kyo and jitsu forces, utilizing two-hand manipulation, is the only effective method for balancing our body's energy flow.
- Again, jitsu points are easy to find because they are obviously distorted areas. Kyo points are deeper and therefore more difficult to find, but are more important than jitsu points. In using tonification-sedation techniques, hold the jitsu (grass) point with one hand and concentrate on tonifying the kyo (root) point with the other hand. Once the kyo point is tonified, the jitsu point will correct itself.
- Ampuku (massage to the hara or abdomen) is sophisticated and difficult to learn, and skilled practitioners are few and far between.
- If you suddenly press hard on a kyo area, you will find the spot difficult to treat. Kyo points usually have a penetrating stiffness and are resistant to insensitive manipulation. When a kyo point perceives an "attack," the entire body will contract in order to defend it. Instead, slowly manipulate and penetrate the area involved. Then hold and wait until you feel the stiffness subside. Not only the kyo point but the patient himself will open up to you.
- Gentle pressure that feels more like support to the patient is necessary to find and treat kyo points. They're concealed when the patient is stiff, so relaxation is the key to treating them effectively.
- The temptation is to concentrate on the jitsu point where the stiffness can be felt. However, skilled therapists don't do this. When you find the jitsu and corresponding kyo point in the hara, or wherever you are treating, just hold the jitsu point and tonify the kyo. Only then will the stiffness and resistance in the muscle connected with the jitsu (grassy) point subside.
- Beginners have a tendency to give longer shiatsu treatments than do professionals.
- It is a myth that effective shiatsu requires strong pressure with the thumbs and fingertips. Nor is it true that diseases can be cured merely by pressing certain points on the body.
- When forming fists for shiatsu, try not to tense your fingers.
- In Japan, many masseurs develop calluses on their elbows. This is simply from overuse.
- Patients who are abnormally stiff often find that finger pressure alone is not very effective. Some of them even boast that they can wear out a practitioner or that they don't feel a thing.
- At the point of maximum stretch, a muscle has minimal contractile power. Thus it offers little resistance when pressure is applied. In addition, we can treat more effectively with less pressure.
- In chiropractic medicine, strong thrusts are often employed to correct joint problems. The technique resolves the situation in the short term, but eventually the distortion reappears because the muscles surrounding the joint have remained in their distorted positions. (This point is echoed by Leon Chaitow, Clair Davies, and Bernard Schatz on the previous page.) Without working on the muscles and meridian lines that are connected to our internal organs, lasting results cannot be achieved.
- The author has a brief section titled "How to Stretch the Spine and Cervical Vertebrae." My response is, particularly with the neck, "Don't do it!" Leave this to a trained and certified professional, such as a chiropractor.
- The proper pressure for using your elbows should be similar to when you lay down on the floor with your head propped up by your palms. Also, avoid using a pointy elbow. In dealing with tight areas, place your palm on the stiff (jitsu) point and your soft elbow on the kyo point.
- Do not press the sacrum with your elbow.
- If one hand does not support the hara, the effectiveness of manipulating the legs is reduced by half. It is through the hand on the hara ("the mother hand") that the general condition of the meridian lines can be felt.
- It is unfortunate that modern education overemphasizes the brain yet ignores nature's real source of strength: the tan den (seat of the soul), located in the hara. People who have a weak tan-den tend to have weaknesses in the lower back, particularly between L3 and L4, including subluxations.
- The most difficult tendency to overcome when learning shiatsu is tensing your fingers when applying pressure. This is not good shiatsu. When you relax your fingers and apply soft pressure, you'll penetrate deeper into the body and feel the meridian lines.
- The basic philosophy behind shiatsu is to restore the normal functioning of the body rather than to treat symptoms. The longer the body has been neglected and functioning abnormally, the longer it will take to balance itself.
- The faster the relief that a treatment promises, the stronger the potential side effects.
- Problems often do not lie in the area of direct concern (such as in tennis elbow, where some would treat only the area around the elbow itself). Problems usually concern the body as a whole and should be treated that way. (Echoes of Dr. Hans Selye.)
- In chiropractic (which has been demonized at times by the medical hierarchy), subluxated areas are adjusted using a thrusting movement. In shiatsu, however, one never presses on a subluxated area. Instead, one tries to achieve total flexibility in the area at large so that the vertebrae return to their normal position naturally. This work includes bending and rotating the legs. These techniques relax the distorted muscles that caused any subluxations and allow the vertebrae to move back to their normal positions.
- Lack of energy can be due to an accumulation of toxins that must be eliminated.
- Psychological fatigue, hypertension in the autonomic nervous system, and hormonal imbalances can adversely affect sexual performance, leading to impotence or frigidity. (In my personal experience, fatigue is epidemic in this country.) The author says he's experienced many cases where he treated one condition and inadvertently relieved sexual problems. Treating sexual problems for their own sake will not produce long-lasting results, because the situation is often the result of a variety of factors. These include hypertension, overwork, and shouldering too much responsibility in life.
- Eye problems: The eye is a delicate organ that consumes more oxygen than any other organ in the body. The liver and kidneys also require large amounts. When there's a lack of oxygen in the body, these three organs compete for their share. Since the eye is not crucial to physical survival, it usually loses the battle.
From "Indian Head Massage" (2003), by Denise Whichello Brown
This is part of the British "Teach Yourself" series of books, whose format I find self-limiting. This particular book does not even begin to explain the full dynamics and potential of this healing art.
- Indian head massage finds its roots in the ancient system of medicine known as Ayurveda.
- Indian head massage can relax and soothe tense eye muscles. The eyes may become brighter and clearer.
- Our word "shampoo" comes from the Indian champi, which means "having your head massaged."
- The system includes massage of the ears, which contain over 200 acupressure points.
- Psychological imbalances of the sacral/sexual/abdomen chakra include sexual perversion, promiscuity, possessiveness and greed.
- Circular friction to the temples helps relieve eye strain. (I find it useful to circle the temples with the heels of my hands, exerting slight inward pressure filled with awareness and intent.)
- A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory and difficulty in focusing.
From "The Alexander Technique" (1996), by Richard Craze
Another brief introduction from the "Teach Yourself" series, stronger than the one above.
- "The right thing to do will probably be the last thing we will do, left to ourselves, because it would be the last thing we should think would be the right thing to do."
-- F.M. Alexander
- Frederick Matthias Alexander (1869-1955) was an actor from the island-state of Tasmania, Australia. Renowned for his one-man interpretations of Shakespeare, he was dogged by recurring bouts of losing his voice before and during performances. His technique is based upon his succesful attempt at overcoming his voice-loss at inopportune moments.
- Moving with a natural grace and poise takes less energy and creates less tension than moving incorrectly.
- Alexander said that if people go on believing that they "know," then it's impossible to eradicate negative behaviors. It becomes impossible to teach them.
- As he consciously tried to restore his lost voice, Alexander noticed that nothing he did would work, so he decided to look at "not doing." Doing, he noticed, creates tension in and of itself.
- Self-improvement must be based on the indivisible unity of one's mental and physical aspects.
- After moving to England and assisting actors there, he become known as "the protector of the London theatre." In his work, he assisted the likes of George Bernard Shaw, Aldous Huxley, Henry James, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Nineteen doctors signed a letter to The Lancet (the British medical journal) urging that Alexander's technique become recognized.
- Proper posture is not something we can regain by simply trying harder. It involves automatic reflex responses that, when working well, appear to support the body almost effortlessly.
- The more we try to do something the worse we make the matter. Doing causes the problems. When we let go and stop "doing", we benefit. "Not doing" is probably the most difficult thing we can do. Unfortunately, humans are great at "doing."
- By letting go, into the moment -- not concentrating on the end-result -- we learn to naturally relax and move more effectively. We start to let go of our preconceived and ill-taught concepts of the "right or wrong way" of doing things, and we start doing things the way nature intended.
- Alexander introduced his concept of "inhibition," though he didn't use the word in the usual sense of hang-up or fear. He used it in the sense of pondering an action, the moment before we performed it, so we were fully at choice whether to perform it or not. We have the option of stopping or continuing, without compulsion either way. This concept resembles the idea of "reversibility" introduced by Moshe Feldenkrais, whose work is examined on the previous page. It also resembles what Werner Erhard calls being "at cause" in our experience, rather than "at effect." Hopefully we can discuss this phenomena more fully when we eventually look at The Alexander Principle by Wilfred Barlow. (I believe this concept can have important ramifications toward conquering addictions such as smoking.)
- Many people hold their jaw extremely rigid.
- We can throw away the bad habits of a lifetime if we just use our brains for a few minutes.
- We cannot recover the proper use of overly contracted muscles by "doing." It is only by "not doing" that we can relax them and allow them to regain normal function. There is no movement in itself that can release a muscle. (I can see what Alexander was driving at, though this statement may at first seem to contradict the basis of trigger-point therapy.) Release comes from letting go of any trigger mechanisms that fire in the muscles causing them to contract. We cannot "unfire" by "doing." Only by "not doing" do we cause release and relaxation. "Not doing" is harder than doing, simply because we've lost the art of it. Letting go is difficult because we think of it as something more to "do" rather than not do.
- Because muscle has a very rich blood supply, it can remain relatively free from infection. The fibers of the involuntary muscles are smaller and finer than those of the voluntary ones.
- Any excess compression or distortion of the spine is likely to interfere with neural pathways.
From "The Book of Ayurveda: A Holistic Approach to Health and Longevity" (1995) by Judith Morrison
This book is heavy on the lists and jargon, light on the insight and practical value. Not particularly recommended.
- "To understand Ayurveda you must think Ayurvedically." (Say what?)
- Ayurvedic teachings were recorded as sutras -- succinct poetic verses in Sanskrit. The language has a wealth of words for concepts both within and beyond everyday awareness.
- Our inner wisdom is the part of our individuality that cannot be swayed from surface reality.
- Few people in the West have sufficient training to accurately assess another person's constitution, or life force.
- Freedom from disease is the result of many factors including: healthy foods and activities; acting wisely, based upon the discrimination of good from bad; not becoming overly attached to the objects of the senses; the habit of charity; the cultivation of kindness; the development of truthfulness; of pardoning others; and keeping the company of other good people.
- Regular exercise helps keep the energy channels free from obstructions. However, we should exercise to half of our capacity to avoid fatigue.
- Satisfying sexual union between two people brings increased health, vitality, immunity, and an enhanced state of the ojas. (Ojas are subtle substances, located in the heart, acting as a way-station between mind and body. They seem to be related to chi, or life-force.) This union must be developed over time, with each partner being concerned with their partner's satisfaction, not only on the physical but on the emotional, mental, and deeper spiritual levels. This builds up a trust that allows the surrender of the defenses of their innermost being, allowing each to open completely to the other and the unity of orgasm. Healthy sex also needs the clarity of total awareness.
- The mere gratification of lust disturbs the ojas, the emotions, and the immune system.
- When you oil someone, maintain an attitude of nurturing.
From "Thai Bodywork" (2002), by Niclaire Mann & Eleanor McKenzie
For my tastes, this book is top-heavy on technique without enough theory to place the movements within their proper context.
- The main focus of Thai bodywork is to help attain or regain balance in the flow of energy (chi, ki, prana) in the body. This ancient craft has a close relationship with Indian Ayurveda, yoga, traditional Chinese medicine, and Japanese shiatsu.
- The techniques presented in this book are in the "northern style." The "southern style," also called the "hard style," is practiced mainly in Bangkok.
- Thai massage can be considered a form of meditation, with the potential for placing the receiver in a near-trancelike state.
- The treatment relieves holding throughout the body through its particular emphasis on comprehensive stretching.
- The quality of the treatment comes from the carefully tuned "listening skills" (including palpation skills) of the practitioner.
- A two-hour treatment is ideal, allowing both giver and receiver to move into a higher space of awareness.
- Sen lines are similar to though not identical with the meridian lines of acupressure. One sen line, the kitcha, extends from the navel to the clitoris or penis.
- On the inside leg, all three sen lines begin in the hollow between the ankle bone and the Achilles tendon.
- While applying pressure, do not adjust your position.
- (The technique of "foot walking" the groin muscle -- adductor -- holds great promise for loosening up the hip flexors and inside thigh to a degree not seen in other modalities.)
- The common knee-to-chest stretch aids in opening the pelvic area.
- When applying alternating thumb-presses, the authors recommend that you imitate the walking of a penguin.
- The buttocks contain many points of energy release. These affect both legs and the lower back, as well as internal organs.
From "The Complete Guide to Pilates, Yoga, Meditation, and Stress Relief" (2002), from Paragon Publishing
Finally, and this step is long overdue, the Literature Review begins to look at yoga and Pilates. These disciplines have the potential of becoming an integral part of a complete lifestyle. The first couple books examined are mere primers -- not particularly deep -- and available in the bargain racks of some book stores. For now we're just getting our feet wet.
- The practice of Pilates helps to develop mental concentration and focus. The importance of focus is a recurring theme in the literature of self-improvement and is often seen in peak performers, especially in sports. Pilates helps integrate a focused mind with flowing physical movements, assisted by rhythmic breathing and a centered posture.
- When we fail to deactivate the classic fight-or-flight response, these stressor chemicals remain in the body.
- As we know, the abdominal area is the source of bodily strength, helping to tone the pelvic floor muscles.
- Human beings tend to use short, sharp movements that appear jerky when compared with more graceful mammals such as cats. That's an example of tension hampering movement.
- A few minutes of deep relaxation is more effective in reducing tiredness than a whole night of restless sleep.
- You are only as young as your spine.
- Besides its role in injury prevention, stretching improves our ability to concentrate and focus the mind.
- The "cobra pose" of yoga, illustrated here, can awaken kundalini energy -- the "coiled serpent" at the base of the spine. (This can have important ramifications for heightened self-awareness and sexuality). This pose can also help relieve tightness in the sacral area.
- We spend most of our waking time in a state of beta brainwaves. We spend only about an hour in alpha. Meditation helps to restore the balance by increasing our time spent in alpha. It helps us to recover feeling and to experience the world directly -- in the present -- before the sensations become "interpreted" (conceptualized) by the left side of the brain.
- Whereas the beta state is thought oriented, alpha is more intuitive. Where beta is concerned with doing, alpha leans toward being. And as beta is concerned with calculation (not adding numbers, necessarily, but mental masturbation -- "figuring things out," even the "un-figure-outable"), alpha fosters imagination.
- Mantras should be short & sweet, a point made by Dr. Herbert Benson (see Beyond the Relaxation Response, below). For some Christians, a popular mantra is "Alleluia," which comes from the Hebrew hallelu (praise) and Jah (Jehovah), and means "praise God."
- Very few people have all their chakras open and in balance.
- Contrary to popular belief, the chakras are positioned horizontally, like CDs whose edges you can barely see. Like CDs, they are round.
- Images are the language of the subconscious mind.
- The bewitching sounds of Ravel's Bolero were inspired by the interminable sawing rhythm of a mill.
- This book also mentions the pioneering work of Dr. Hans Selye, whose Stress of Life is examined on this site.
- Long-term stress changes the balance of hormones in the body and leads to exhaustion. A suppressed immune system, slower metabolism, and slower rate of cell repair results in rapid aging, weight gain, and a greater risk of degenerative disease.
- When stress levels rise, breathing tends to use only the top third of the lungs. Harmful toxins are not breathed out.
- Autogenic training helps foster an altered state of consciousness known as passive concentration, a state of awareness similar to meditation whereby you relax by not actively working to do so.
- Laughter triggers the release of endorphins.
- Many Eastern philosophies incorporate the idea of "mindfulness" -- being acutely aware of the present by keeping the mind fully absorbed in the task you're performing. When one becomes fully involved in the moment, even the most mundane task can help focus the mind. (We're getting back to that famous Latin saying of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order: "Age quod agis," or "Do what you're doing.")
From "Pilates and Yoga" (2004), by Judy Smith, Emily Kelly and Jonathan Monks
Well-illustrated, a little short on theory, and often available in the bargain racks.
- The word yoga is Sanskrit for "union" (which is related to the word "integrity," as in wholeness and completeness). In the West, the spiritual aspects of yoga are generally de-emphasized.
- Correct posture can give the illusion of losing six pounds of body weight.
- Among the professions of Joseph Pilates were boxing, performing in a circus, and training British detectives in self-defense.
- As mentioned above, Pilates aimed to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor. According to author Emily Kelly, well-trained pelvic floor muscles may help improve orgasmic potential in women and erectile function in men. (I don't believe the pharmaceutical companies wish us to know this.) It is now believed that the pelvic floor muscles work best in conjunction with the transverse abdominis, which is contracted constantly during Pilates exercises.
- In most every position, if not all, pull the abdominals in, never allowing them to sag, and keep your spine neutral. (If you've ever practiced the Tae-Bo exercise routine -- a great workout -- you'll recall the emphasis on pulling in the abs.)
- The hip flexors (iliopsoas) tend to be one of the tightest muscle groups. When they become permanently tight, the hip bones are constantly being pulled down, emphasizing a lumbar curve in the spine. This leads to a tight lower back, and it weakens and disengages the abdominals.
- Research shows that we consider people with good posture to be more attractive. We make assumptions that they're in control, confident, and capable.
- The body tends to open up only when it truly feels safe to do so.
From "Whole Body Massage" (2004), by Nitya Lacroix, et al.
A basic introduction, also found in bookstore bargain racks.
- In India, it is customary for a bride and groom to receive a massage before their wedding day.
- Cleopatra is recorded as enjoying a foot massage during dinner parties. Even the lowliest Egyptian workers were paid in wages of body oil sufficient for daily use.
- From the 1800s, there are records of Cherokee and Navaho Indians using massage on their warriors.
- As hands stroke the body, they can unlock not only physical tensions trapped in muscles. They can be trained to acknowledge, with complete acceptance, the essence of the person within. (Well put.)
- Research has shown that massage can have a protective effect upon the immune system for up to a week.
- The energy-release points for the "third eye" chakra are located in the temples, forehead, around the eyes, and at the base of the neck.
- A firm but relaxed abdomen will allow tension to slip away from the upper back and shoulders.
- Ayurveda (which we will discuss, in time) is known as "the science of longevity."
- Even at the poorest levels of Indian society, mothers can be seen oiling and massaging their infants daily. This continues until the child is about three, when it's reduced to about twice a week. From the age of six, children take part in a weekly massage ritual with other members of the family, even learning to exchange massage with each other.
- Being a head masseur in India is a fully recognized profession, and there's even a special caste set aside for it. The profession is generally handed down through the same families. (You can tell this book is British. If an American wrote it, they'd probably use the politically-correct term "head massage therapist.")
- The author states that warm oil is more easily absorbed into the skin.
- Exerting pressure on various points around the neck can help relieve strain and imbalances in the eyes, in addition to the ears.
- People can look more open and lively after a massage because their defensiveness has been reduced.
- In Chinese thought, the points on the earlobe correspond to the head and face, the outside edge of the ear to the spine, and the middle ear to the internal organs.
- Sexual energy can be blocked in the sacral area.
- Signs that your client is releasing tension and anxiety include yawning, laughing, shivering, and even shuddering.
- A tight back exerts pressure on the skull, leading to, among other symptoms, eyestrain.
- Back to the fight-or-flight response: If the adrenalin is not discharged some way, this could lead to disturbances in thought processes and perception.
- Sugary snacks and most processed foods stimulate the release of the stress hormone cortisol.
- The point known as Bladder 62 (in the first indentation directly below the outer anklebone), is known as Calm Sleep and can help ease insomnia.
- Stimulating the toe reflex points assists the brain to receive and send messages to and from the rest of the body.
- Being the most distal part of the body, the feet are often the first to collect and retain toxins, particularly around the joints.
From "Practical Reiki" (1999), by Richard Ellis
This one is basic to a fault; I cannot recommend it. Not to worry, we will look at more substantial reiki texts in the near future.
- "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans."
-- old proverb, also attributed to Woody Allen
- One fish says to another, "Do you believe in this ocean they talk about?"
-- Chinese proverb
- Reiki (rei-ki) is a Japanese word that translates as "God light energy."
- Ki, the life force, is supposedly visible in dense forests, at the ocean's edge, or in mountainous areas.
- Each chakra has its own color.
- Electric appliances can scramble your electromagnetic field, so it's important to take breaks. These appliances include televisions, computers (oh shit!), and cell phones.
- We can view old photographs of ourselves to help rediscover long-forgotten emotions.
- As discussed by Mildred Carter in Body Reflexology (first page of the Literature Review), the medulla oblongata (Oblongata Davida, baby?) is located in the center of the occipital ridge. The author here says this point is connected to the third eye, and accesses the memory bank for all childhood and past-life emotional trauma.
- The shoulders are where we carry the burdens of other people's expectations for us -- our mother's on the left and our father's on the right.
- High levels of ki help enhance the immune system. (I'm sure the author meant both high and unblocked levels of ki, didn't he now?)
- According to the Oxford dictionary (there are several, buddy), empathy is defined as the power of projecting oneself into the object of contemplation in order to fully comprehend it.
- C-7 is a common blockage point along the spine (this is good to know, and I'm not being sarcastic). Even if the pressure occurs further down, it backs itself up to C-7.
- When it comes to breaking up old stuck emotional issues, our greatest ally can be breath. Often a person will be reluctant to breathe into an area that is stuck or stagnated, and the breath will appear shallow and weak.
- Negative and detrimental thoughts can grow as fast as weeds in a garden. They can choke all beautiful and delicate flowers if they're allowed to take control.
- Attachment is the source of all suffering. (Werner Erhard says that lack of integrity is the source.)
- "Death is such a mystery, we know so little about it." (I paid good money to read this?)
- "One love, one heart, let's get together and feel all right."
-- Bob Marley (I can't believe the author took the bait and included this cheesiest of quotes.)
- According to John Shen, a well-known Chinese doctor, acupuncture is 10% technique and 90% spirit. (If we replace the word "spirit" with "intention" I think the point comes across more clearly.)
From "Beyond the Relaxation Response" (1984), by Herbert Benson, MD
This is the less-meaty follow-up to 1975's Relaxation Response by the Harvard doctor. The first book is looked at on the previous page.
- During periods of deep relaxation, the individual's mental patterns change so that he breaks free from "worry cycles."
- Symptoms of anxiety include short temper and the inability to get along with others.
- Buddhists, as Gary Zukav points out in The Dancing Wu Li Masters, believe that he who reaches a state of enlightenment succeeds in transcending ordinary logical thought. They begin to directly perceive "the inexpressible nature of undifferentiated reality." The unenlightened person sees the physical world as many separate parts.
- The medieval physician Paracelsus said, "All drugs are poisons." Even today, that's not far from the truth.
- Tibetan Buddhists, among others, believe that meditation causes a positive disturbance in the universe and that it puts them in tune with its beneficial energies.
- Meditation requires some degree of attentiveness. Similarly, the Catholic Encyclopedia emphasizes the importance of attentiveness during prayer: "Attention is the very essence of prayer. As soon as the attention ceases, prayer ceases."
- We need to avoid an aggressive attitude toward intrusive thoughts. Let them be there.
- When attempting to solve an entrenched problem, the overactive use of willpower activates the sympathetic nervous system and in turn may aggravate the situation rather than improve it. In other words, a slightly passive attitude, coupled with the "Faith Factor," will allow the problem to subside -- only when we stop trying so hard. This poses a complicated challenge: We're working to improve a situation, but we're being told not to care about how our actions are working.
- After running or jogging four or five miles, many runners experience a natural "high." When coupled with the meditative attitude of the relaxation response, which includes a comfortable mantra, this high will often occur in only the first or second mile. Also, exercise becomes more efficient. When Benson and other researchers reported these findings in the medical literature, several marathoners were upset because they felt the beans were spilled on their secret competitive techniques.
- The relaxation response can enhance creativity by breaking down the unproductive "wired thinking loops" in the mind and allowing fresh associations to occur. It has been hypothesized that new associations occur because new "wirings" have been formed.
- Creative freedom benefits from a laissez-faire approach. When we "back off" a problem and assume a more passive attitude, the solution is given more of a chance to reveal itself.
- The book Fringe Medicine by Brian Inglis describes the technique of British spiritual healer Harry Edwards: For the healing power to begin to operate, Edwards found he must avoid the temptation to concentrate. "It is not a mental concentration that is needed," said Edwards, "but mental abandonment. The ideal to be arrived at is a state of mental meditation, with the directive of seeking contact with a spirit." (Or to act as a channel rather than assume one is the prime mover.)
From "The Psoas Book" (1981/2012) by Liz Koch
When this book was first discussed in the massage literature many years ago, it appeared to have so much potential promise. Despite a few key points, this book simply does not deliver. Of course, the current edition of the book includes the obligatory schedule of upcoming workshops.
- Each psoas is approximately 16 inches long and about the thickness of the fist.
- It passes directly over the ball-and-socket joint connecting the leg to the hip, thus affecting the leg’s range of motion. When constricted, the pelvis and leg move more as one unit.
- The roughly diamond shaped trapezius begins its upward journey at T12, known as the lumbo-dorsal junction. It's here at T12, near the solar plexus, that the psoas begins its triangular journey down to the lesser trochanter. (One more aspect of the importance of the solar plexus). The trapezius and psoas exist at two different layers of depth.
- Embedded within the psoas are nerves serving reproductive organs.
- Although the psoas is often called a hip flexor, it functions more like a pendulum supporting the free swing of the leg while walking.
- A supple upper psoas, at full length, engenders better tone in the erector spinaes. (Probably vice-versa, too.)
- A constricted psoas can lead to menstrual cramps.
- The psoas doesn’t weaken in the sense that it needs traditional strengthening. More often the psoas exhausts itself due to an overwhelmed nervous system.
- It is generally inadvisable to palpate the psoas or search for trigger points here. Doing so can trigger the fight-or-flight response. Non-invasive, indirect techniques are more effective.
- In the realm of sports training, the development of muscle control often takes precedence (unfortunately) over skeletal balance. Gaining speed at the expense of mounting tension is often the goal. (Excellent point.)
- The impulse of walking is initiated at T12. The psoas works as a pendulum and the legs simply follow. (Koch was certainly influenced by Moshe Feldenkrais on this point.)
From "The Vital Psoas Muscle" (2012) by Jo Ann Staugaard-Jones
Long on exercises, short on theory and research.
- In the foreword, Dr. Gary Mascilak also notes that the psoas is generally regarded as a hip flexor. However, he reminds us it’s also a stabilizer. (On a plane or ship, a stabilizer reduces roll or sway. On the human body, we can therefore see its role in reducing herky-jerky movement. A stabilizer can keep us steady on our feet, steadfast in our minds.) Mascilak also calls the psoas “the front butt.”
- We free the psoas rather than strengthen or stretch it.
- The author calls the psoas the most important skeletal muscle in the body, given that it’s the only muscle that connects the spine to the legs.
- What doesn’t show up on charts is that the psoas slightly spirals (torques) along with the pelvic structure it enhances.
- The psoas plays the role of a keystone in an arch.
- The psoas converges with the diaphragm at the solar plexus.
- It’s been called “the hidden prankster.”
- Sacro-iliac problems can overwork the psoas.
- Beyond the relatively benign Constructive Rest Position (CRP) approach mentioned by Koch, Staugaard-Jones offers little in the way of bodywork methods to address the psoas, only the most indirect. We’ll stick with the PNF applied to the ankle, as discussed on the sports massage page, which is but one step removed from direct palpation.
From the magazine articles "The Opinionated Psoas" found in Massage and Bodywork magazine, four installments, February-September 2001, by Thomas Myers
Myers is emerging as one of the leading writers in the field of bodywork.
- It's at least an arguable opinion the legs start at T12-L1, and the psoas begins the division into "two-ness" which culminates in our bipedal walking.
- Although the predominance of mechanistic thinking in our anatomical training has led us to think of each muscle as being a discrete unit with a singular function, we can see from this example this is simply and obviously not true in the case of the deltoid. Could such an argument be applied to the psoas?
- You know the difference between an amateur and a professional? The amateur says "Ooops," while the professional says, "There."
- To this day, the full role of the psoas resists full understanding and meets with professional disagreement on several fronts.
From “The Complete Illustrated Guide to the Alexander Technique” (1998) by Glynn MacDonald
Superlative history, background information and theory. Falls a little flat in the description of the actual techniques involved.
- “Must we not admit that the mind and soul are of a bodily nature?”
- Lucretius (99-55 BC)
- Good posture relieves pressure on internal organs.
- “Verbal instruction as to how to correct wrong habits of movement and posture is very difficult. . . . To take a step is an affair, not of this or that limb solely, but of the total neuromuscular activity of the moment.” (Sir Charles Sherrington, physiologist and Nobel Prize winner in 1932)
- The relationship between the head, neck and back has a paramount influence on the whole organism.
- In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1973, professor Nikolaas Tinbergen spoke of the importance of Alexander’s work. He noted its ability to promote depth of sleep, overall cheerfulness and mental alertness, and resilience against the outside pressures that life presents us.
- Rudolf Magnus (1873-1927) was a Dutch physiologist who found that any interference in the head/neck relationship altered the use of the limbs. He demonstrated that head-neck reflexes were the central mechanism in orienting an animal to its environment.
- In the 1960s, professor F.P. Jones of Boston demonstrated that adherents of the Alexander Technique used less muscular effort in their activities.
- In the late 1980s, Dr. David Garlick of the University of New South Wales noted that appropriate use of postural muscles in the back frees up the respiratory muscles – thoracic and abdominal. Since they were no longer called upon to support the trunk of the body, they could do what they were designed to do: help the body breath more slowly and deeply. Thus breathing improved naturally, without the benefit of special “breathing exercises.” Garlick also noted the implications here for improving one’s sense of well-being.
- In 1992, Dr. John Austin noted a direct relationship between the Alexander Technique and respiratory endurance. Austin, professor of radiology at Columbia-Presbyterian in New York, also noted increasing strength and/or endurance of the muscles of the abdominal wall. He also noted that these improvements appeared to be indirect results (precession) of the lengthening in stature that the Technique fostered.
- Dr. Tristan Roberts was an instructor in physiology at the University of Glasgow. In his journal article Reflexes, Habits and Skills, Roberts noted how many people carry themselves with stiff joints and contracted muscles, leading to fatigue and even pain. Somehow the therapist must induce the patient to become aware of the proprioceptive signals that initiate the unwanted activity.
- In London theatre circles, Alexander became known as the “breathing man” because of his ability to breathe effortlessly and noiselessly when acting or reciting. He criticized the fashion of “deep breathing” as an exercise that doesn’t get to the root of the matter. On the contrary, the body needs to release and then expand naturally. This process involves a coordination of the entire muscular system.
- Alexander asserted that he did not deal with specific symptoms directly. Rather he fostered better patterns of body-use which formed the basis for improved psychophysical functioning.
- Alexander also asserted that physical exercise performed under the umbrella of unreliable sensory feedback information could not be beneficial. It could even aggravate the problem.
- Practitioners of Alexander's methods work with their whole body, which avoids producing a buildup of shortened and tense muscle in any one part. This conveys an expansive stimulus to the recipient.
- When we “end-gain” (going for the goodies, the end-result, while ignoring the intermediary process), we can block results because we generate excessive muscular (and mental) tension in our determination to get we we want.
- Our sixth sense is that of proprioception. Coined by Sherrington, the word means not merely how we ascertain our position in space, but whether too much muscular effort is being employed in doing so.
- The number of nerve receptors in neck muscles in much higher than in other areas of the body.
- When the spaces between the neck vertebrae enlarge, we create more room for blood vessels to provide an increased flow of blood to the brain.
- In his book The Neurophysiology of the Postural Mechanisms (1967), professor Roberts (University of Glasgow) argued that the primary aim of the neuromuscular mechanism is to counteract the downward force of gravity.
- Muscle fibers divide into white fibers for strength and red fibers for rhythmic movement and posture. Experiments with rats show that after spending time in earth orbit their white muscle fibers were virtually unchanged, but the red fibers of the back began to atrophy. Moreover, these red fibers became more like white fibers. One conclusion is that the force of gravity, lacking in outer space, is necessary for the postural fibers to be stimulated.
- Garlick explains that red postural fibers, particularly of the back muscles that support the trunk, require constant nerve firing from mechanisms stimulated by gravity. Also, stimulation to these postural fibers needs to be performed at a low level of activity, not at the higher levels often used in physical exercise.
- With the Alexander Technique, red muscle fibers (posture) that have altered through misuse or overuse into white fibers (strength) are gradually converted back into red ones, as nature intended. The appropriate balance of red and white fibers in the body is now re-established.
- Raymond Dart (1893-1988) was an Australian anatomist and anthropologist who followed similar lines of thought as Alexander. Dart had a disabled son who was plagued by occasional muscle spasm. As Dart experimented with movements designed to aid his son, he would hear cracks or other audible noises as muscles let go of joints they had been jealously guarding. He noticed that synovial fluid within the joints now had increased capacity to form gas bubbles. Joints that for years had moved little, if at all, could now assume a gradual and in some cases even a rapid new mobility they were originally designed to have.
- A masseur must rein in the tendency to work too hard in order to “help” the client. By trying too hard the masseur can transmit excess tension from their own shoulder and hands.
- In his book Freedom to Change (1976), Dr. Frank Pierce Jones describes the startle-pattern reflex: It begins with an eye blink, the head is then thrust forward. The shoulders are raised and the arms stiffened. Abdominal muscles shorten, breathing stops, and the knees are flexed. The response is brief and unexpected, making it difficult to control. It is the model of other, slower response patterns: fear, anxiety, fatigue and pain. These states all display postural changes from the norm that are seen in the startle pattern. In all of them, there is a shortening of neck muscles, which displaces the head. Flexion accompanies this process, so the body is drawn into a slightly smaller space.
- “Work done with anxiety about results is far inferior to work done without such anxiety, in the calm of self-surrrender.”
- Bhagavad Gita
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