Tag Archives: structual integration

The Right Question

“My back hurts … what do I do?” Fair question. More on this in a moment. But first …

I’ve been reading a fair amount lately about the topic of asking the right question in a business setting. To illustrate: your company is asking for feedback about the structure of staff meetings. Most of your fellow employees are likely going to give feedback quite pertinent to the structure that’s set up, like “I don’t think Robbin is the best facilitator to lead the marketing review; Larry should do that” or “Five minutes isn’t enough time for a realistic bathroom break for 70 people” or even “I want blueberry muffins.”

Right? Two things.

1) This feedback will likely all be addressed in a satisfactory way. For every question (which is what the feedback is, essentially asking “can we do it this way instead?”), there’s a very legit, real, true response

2) All of those questions, and therefore all of their answers, are completely moot if someone asks another question—”Is having a meeting really the best vehicle for doing what we as a company want to do in this case?”—and the answer is no.

The rug is simply pulled out. I love this! And while it seems pretty clear and Four Hour Work Week-ish in the office—spend your time on business, not just busy-ness—it may be less so when it comes to leveraging our own strengths in our health.

I’m certainly finding this our for myself. How many times did I as a college athlete count how many grams  of protein I’d need for each twenty minutes of plyometric training? How many mg of ibuprofen to combat the inflammation in my knees without giving me an ulcer? How do I release my left hip that’s been seizing up when I’m two hours into a grueling workout?

While all of these questions received legit answers (eight, 600 and a heel lift for my right foot), there were more fundamental things that needed addressing that probably would’ve made these questions moot. In short in this case, I was overtraining, and my form would get so poor at the end of long workouts I was wrenching my knees in my best attempt to just get through. I was also really favoring my right leg.

My questions in some ways were quite obvious to the situation. But there were much more fundamental questions I could’ve been asking, which would’ve pulled the rug out on the other ones.

And so … “My back hurts. What do I do?” If you ask a room full of experts in their given fields, you’re likely to get just as many answers, and all of those answers totally legit, actual, and empirically true. Yes, there’s a molecular thing happening with the actin and myosin; yes, T4 is locked in rotation; yes, your fascia is bound is a particular way; yes, your posture may well reflect your deepest emotions and beliefs about the way the world works …

See how fundamental and out-of-the-box you can get with your question first. It’s the most empowering and true thing for all of us.


Mind Asleep, Body Awake

I had an interesting session today in which my client wasn’t actually there. I mean, he was there in that his body was there, but my client as I knew him was checked out, in dream-land. And I was left to have a conversation with his myofascial system.

I’ve never had anyone fall asleep on the table. Either the sensations of the work are so intense, or I’m asking them to engage specific muscle groups, or something … no one’s fallen asleep until today. Today I was left to work entirely with the body—Karl’s body, in this case (not his real name)—devoid of any consciousness of what I usually think of as this entity called “Karl.”

The interesting part, for me, was what a conversation I had with Karl’s tissues, the systems underneath my fingertips, my forearms. In particular, while working his right hip abductors, I found his musculature doing things that I had always been certain were informed by the conscious mind: actions like prolonged guarding and pulling back.

As I sank slowly into a trigger point in Karl’s gluteus medius, I felt a familiar slight recoil of the tissue (meaning “too much!”). I backed off completely for a moment, then began slowly to put slight pressure on the same trigger point, only to have the whole structure pull back and guard again, like you might envision a jellyfish pulsing in the ocean under a false attack.

I had always been sure that this stuff was conscious mind stuff, like “okay, it’s too much because he’s anticipating my next move, thinking about how he’d better guard that area” … but Karl, indeed, was snoring away quite loudly throughout this whole “conversation” I was having with his hip. He was gone.

The body seems to have a personality of its own, wisdom aside.

Anyone else who’s had this experience, please comment or shoot me an email. I’d love to hear it, as this is all new stuff for me.

Anatomy Pop Quiz!

Get out a pen to jot down your answer. Got one? Great. Now please, stand up, arms relaxed at your sides. From here, lift your arm straight out to the front, palm down, up 90 degrees (that’s straight out from your shoulder).

The pop quiz question: what was the first muscle to engage in that movement? (You don’t need to know technical anatomical language for your answer to count, as in, you could say “the front of the neck.”)

Probably some muscle in the shoulder, right? Like the anterior deltoid. (That was my guess when I took this quiz.) Or, if you were being super savvy and had a sense of where this was headed, maybe you answered some part of your core, like the deep transversus abdominis.

The answer: the soleus, one of the deep muscles in your calf that connects to your Achilles tendon.

The reason: to begin the process of lifting your arm out front, and thus moving your center of weight more forward, your unimaginably intelligent body begins with an ever-so-slight movement of plantar flexion, or the ball of your foot pressing into the earth (or, if you’re driving a car, on the gas pedal).

(Another visual that might help if you’re still feeling confused: recognize that the plantar flexion, if left unchecked, would push everything above your feet backwards. And that’s where your arm moving forward comes in as a sort of balance, so only your arm actually moves.)

Can you feel it happening? (I can’t, but kudos if you can!)

Amazing, no? Now, pass your papers to the front of the class …

Is Ida Rolf’s 10-series too formulaic?

A great question that I’ve wondered many times, answered is his latest blog post by Tom Myers here : http://www.anatomytrains.com/blogs/tom-myers

(As a quick refresher: Ida Rolf’s 10-series is the foundation, if not the protocol, of the school of bodywork called structural integration. SI works with the body’s 3D shape through the fascial network—the all-pervasive connective tissue covering literally everything in the body.)