Home - Fixing Backs, Pain, Stress and
Tightness with Structural Integration
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As a preparation for chiropractic manipulations, the lengthening of the muscles and fascia allows the vertebrae to be looser and freer from one another, so they can move a lot better than if they were jammed up. This is what a brief back massage or hydroculator are used for, before the chiropractor attempts the adjustments. But the Bodywork makes all the muscles much longer, and the fascia much softer than those treatments. And it releases the deeper layers of muscles, in the back and in the other areas of the body as well. Then, when the massage and hydroculator are used for subsequent adjustments, they can do even more.
The chiropractors I've worked with say they can get adjustments after my work that wouldn't even move before, even if they've been working with the patient for weeks or months. And after the body alignment has been significantly improved, the adjustments go in very quickly with a minimum of effort and very little or no pain from the pressure.
The Bodywork does a lot more than a massage and hydroculator. It creates a long term and vastly improved change in the body's shape and the tissue's consistency. Everything is longer and more malleable. This helps in two ways. When people have chronic vertebral misalignment, they often get pains elsewhere in their backs after the chiropractor puts the vertebrae back in line. This is because the soft tissue length in the back is not long enough to accommodate the correct length of the spinal column when everything is stacked one on top of the other. So the muscles of the back get strained when the column of bones and disks is made longer than they can accommodate.
But with the Structural Integration treatment, the shape is made long enough. So no pains will occur. The same lengthening that allowed the adjustment to go in, and go in easily, also accommodates the adjustment without strain. The lengths of the soft tissue are balanced with the lengths of the bones, just what I've been describing throughout this book. Further, this is also the length, and organization, that keeps the vertebrae from being "popped out" again in the next few hours or days.
When we compare Structural Integration to other treatments that attempt to make the body's bones and muscles work together better, we can see that one of its most powerful aspects is its affect on the whole body. I've never treated a person whose vertebrae regularly went out of alignment who also did not have tight legs and pelvis, a tight head, and contracted chest and abdominal muscles. Shortness of the fascia in all these areas "peripheral" to the back keeps pulling vertebrae out of alignment and making back, neck and shoulder muscles very tight at the same time. Tight legs and abdominals especially affect the lower and middle back. Tight arms, chest and head, as well as legs and abdominals, affect the upper back.
Because of the length and malleability we create with the Bodywork, chiropractic patients are able to do their stretching and other exercises easier, without pulling their backs out. I, and other practitioners, also educate our clients as to the whole-body nature of their back problems and give them self-help practices like Movement education and stretching. The education shows us more efficient and less tense ways to move the body in our daily activities. And various kinds of stretching techniques can be used to improve the alignment that we did in the session. They can also correct any routine bunch-up that accumulates.
Sometimes vertebrae go out because of emotional or toxic physiological reasons, and very hard fascia prevents chiropractors from effectively using applied kinesiology, reflexology and their vertebral adjustments to "clean up" the organ stress as well as put the bones back in place. So, softened and healthier fascia, combined with a better aligned body, can help them do more of their therapies for this kind of condition. (Actually, this kind of toxic reaction is very common. Eating the wrong food and drink can do it easily. And a lot more people have this problem than is generally considered.) The organs get stressed and that activates their nerves and acupuncture points along the spine. Stressed organs, especially the liver, also activate reflexes in their associated structural muscles and that tenses them, too. It also tenses muscles at acupuncture points.
This is, in fact, a common cause for many of what are called stress headaches. When we're in a psychologically stressing situation, we tend to want to eat more physiologically stressing food. And when we eat the food, we, ourselves, actually become more stressed. When the body's organs get stressed, the muscles of the back, neck and shoulders, and points along the spine, tighten. This tension sometimes pulls out the vertebrae.
If the body has had a good amount of Structural Integration lengthening, then the "base" shape and consistency of the tissues will be long and soft. When the organ stress is released with say, reflexology, or if the toxins get washed out of the tissues with herbal and nutritional cleansing, a lot of the tension in the muscles will just go away. That allows a chiropractic adjustment to restore the vertebral alignment. And that alignment will immediately eliminate the additional muscle tensions that the slipped out vertebra was causing. And as I suggested above, many chiropractors have hands-on techniques to further the cleansing and de-stressing part of the process.
Applied kinesiology (A.K.) tests also give parallel results with my body reading evaluation and with what I know I've improved with the Bodywork manipulations. Short, hard muscles and fascia test functionally weaker than longer, better toned muscles in alignment with their bones. With A.K., what I haven't yet treated often tests weak; and after my work, nutritional and acupressure treatments, if needed, improve the muscle strength right away. By freeing the muscles from the constricted shapes of the hard fascia, these neuro-muscular techniques can do what they're designed to do, better.
Chiropractic manipulations and applied kinesiology also have the ability to "instantly" improve the entire body's alignment. This happens after the person's had significant lengthening and alignment from a good Structural Integration sequence and then a vertebra pops out or the body gets stressed. We pop our vertebrae out of alignment with different kinds of physical activity, even after the organization of the muscles, bones and fascia is made closer to the ideal. I, myself, find that my back feels a lot more uplifted, right away, when somebody gives me an adjustment, especially if it's right after I did some good stretching.
So the combination of chiropractic and Bodywork or yoga, works very well as maintenance.
For the treatment of long term structural problems or injuries such as whiplash, falls, and jams, my experience has shown that the combination of Structural Integrated Bodywork and chiropractic works better than either of them alone. People stay looser and more pain free during the series of treatments and progress seems to go faster than when I do the Bodywork alone.
I found that after doing a number of sessions of Bodywork to lengthen a person's whole structure, I could do the rest of my work better if the clients then had alternating treatments of Bodywork and chiropractic with A.K. They had less tight muscle structure when they came to see me for another session than they did at the end of the last Bodywork session.
Because I had lengthened more of the fascia, with my last manipulations, the chiropractor could do more with the A.K. and vertebral adjustments than she or he could do before. The adjustments would correct the more recently occurring vertebral misalignments and even some more of the chronic ones as well. And the A.K. balanced out the neuro-muscular pattern all over the body. That released a lot of muscle tensions we couldn't get at previously. And, of course, with more muscle relaxation all over the body, I can do more fascial manipulation.
Conversely, to illustrate how important the soft tissue alignment is to the chiropractic treatment, a few of my clients have reported diminishing or negative returns when, in the middle of their treatment, they stopped seeing me and only went to the chiropractor.
Which treatment should come first? And in what pattern should the treatments be applied? The answers depend on what we're treating. Here are a few ideas of the way I would do it. If you're in acute pain because a vertebra went out, get an adjustment. Your fascia was long enough for you to live your life without the pain before it went out. So just fix the immediate cause. Then you can get a series of Bodywork sessions just because it's a healthy thing to do.
If your back did go out enough for you to seek professional help, it might go out again. Personally, I think that's a good signal to get some Bodywork because if you need an adjustment later on, all the lengthening will allow the chiropractor to then do more for you. Besides enabling you to get easier and more thorough adjustments, the freer neuro-muscular abilities of your body will allow a knowledgeable chiropractor to use special A.K. techniques to identify and correct some long term structural problems caused by past traumas.
If you suffer from a long term tight structure with a lot of back problems, you'll get the most out of your chiropractic sessions if your fascia is softened and your structure is lengthened and aligned. So you might want to get a number of Bodywork hours right away, and then start alternating chiropractic and A.K. treatments with Bodywork treatments of a few hours at a time.
If you choose to do this combination for athletic maintenance during a season, you can alternate chiropractic with Bodywork tune-ups, doing them close together in a set. Along with massage as well, they'll help you remove the bunch-up, correct the vertebral misalignments and maintain muscle health, good physiology and body organization.
could be like this: You do a chiropractic adjustment first to correct the
very recent vertebral misalignments. That relaxes things and you do the
massage and then Bodywork sessions. Then the greater length of fascia
allows another brief chiropractic treatment with A.K. to balance out the
musculature and improve the neuro-muscular tone. This can work nicely if
the chiropractor has a Bodyworker in the office. If this convenience is
not available to you, then a massage and Bodywork session can come first
and you would finish up with a full chiropractic visit. These are just
possibilities. Of course, you’ll do it to suit your own needs and