Home - Fixing Backs, Pain, Stress and Tightness with Structural Integration
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Accumulated Shortness Intro   
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FIXING ACCUMULATED SHORTNESS -PART 5 - shortness created pains #1

by Lou Gross, School Certified Master Postural Integrator,
27 years successful experience
For more information & free consultations, call 321-726-9083


Section 4.  Overview.  Now that you know about shortness and how we relengthen it, we can take some time to cover specifics.  Here is an explanation of different kinds of structural pains and injuries, and how they are caused by soft connective tissue shortness.  These are the well known problems that doctors give labels to, and offer surgery, pain killers, anti-inflammatories, and physical therapy to heal.  While these treatments may help repair already damaged tissue, they probably won’t correct the systemic shortness.  Often, simply relengthening this shortness in enough areas will take away the pain and tension, and correct a pinched nerve condition.  Relengthening will also help injured tissue to heal by removing the strain that caused the injury in the first place. 


            The first kind of pain, I call just plain tightness.  The muscle is so tight that waste products can't get out fast enough.  The excessive bunch up has made the avenues for waste elimination too narrow, and they're also too narrow to bring in the full amount of fresh clean blood.  Probably, the tightness is also generating lots more waste products than a muscle would when it's able to relax.  Lots of us get these kinds of pains.  Maybe we call them soreness.

            Massage can helpSo can even a local application of deep connective tissue lengthening.  This will make the muscle longer for a while and simultaneously clean out lots of old waste that's causing pain.  After the connective tissue improvement, regular deep massages can do more to clean out the recent accumulations because they can go deeper into the muscles and all the avenues are a little wider.

            You can do massage on the sore part fairly often.  But you have to be knowledgeable about this kind of localized “connective tissue lengthening.”  You want to make sure the pain doesn't keep repeating, or even get worse.  Lots of people have wanted me to treat only the parts that are sore.  But that doesn't fix their overall condition that keeps putting these muscles in tightness.  Repeated softening of just the sore area can actually make the pains worse the next time they occur.

            If the pain is in the mid to upper back, and the neck and shoulders, chances are that a side view will show the overall misalignment.  The person's back will be leaning backwards from the waste, while the legs, are leaning forward.  And the head is jutting forward.. (Try looking in a mirror, standing sideways.)

   What we point out in Structural Integration is that the thighs are also pretty tight and the chest and abdomen are probably shortened up, too.  So these parts, on the front of the body are pulling the head, neck and shoulders down,  toward the front of the feet.  In order to stand up straight again, the person's body has to keep tightening the back, shoulders and neck.  These muscles pull the front of the body back up, but they have to tighten up to do it.  Then the soft connective tissue grows into that shape and it’s there all the time. This is an extremely common condition. Tens of millions of people have it.

            Routine connective tissue lengthening where it hurts can help, for a while.  But when the tissue there gets really soft and the rest of the body remains short and hard, you could get more pain, and more often. The big bad guys keep pulling.  But the good guys just keep getting softer and easier to pull on.

What I try to do is give some relief, and then educate the client.   I want him or her to think “systemically,” and let me do more and more of the whole body realignment in each "fix-up" session.  And I’ll also explain how to actually lengthen those front muscles with a special kind of stretching.  That will improve the back, shoulders and neck condition on a long-term basis.  And the person won't be retightening those areas every day.


            The second kind of pain happens when the tightness has gotten so short that the muscle's little pain nerve sensors get tripped.  You can think of these as little micro-switches that get turned on when the muscle is so short in one place that it's pulling too tightly in another.  To be more accurate though, this usually happens when a whole area of the body is too bunched up.  Lots of muscles are too tight.

            I treated a college baseball catcher.  He'd been coming for physical therapy for a week because the triceps muscle in his upper throwing arm was hurting.  The daily physical therapy of heat, cold and electrical stimulation was aimed at healing what was thought to be damaged muscle tissue.

At first, I just wanted to give him a quick back loosening, as a treat of sorts. But I found his long back muscles were so hard and tight that they wouldn't lengthen nor loosen.  I realized his whole upper body was very tight.  We did a 90-minute treatment, including the arms. I started in the proper sequence, lengthening a and b, the chest and abdomen, then c and d, the sides and arms, and some e and f, the neck and head.  By this time, his arm pain had disappeared.  Then, I did g and h, his back and shoulders. And they gave way as easily as warm butter.  A week later, he was still receiving electrical stimulation for tissue healing reasons.  But he was also still pain free in his arm.


            A third kind of pain occurs in a tendon.  You know, a tendon is the harder, thinner extension of the fascia that connects the muscle body to the bones.  When the muscle body fascia has gotten very bunched up, it also gets hard, and it's also probably stuck to the nearby muscles.  Further, it's almost always held tight by other tight muscles in its interconnected network.

            Now, your body, when it's healthy, expects the muscle fascia and muscle fibers to stretch when you make strong movements, or even not-so-strong, repetitive movements.  And your muscle and tendon length was designed by your genes to be the right length.  When it's not bunched up, it is the right length to balance the length of your bones and move you around without pain.

            But here's the problem.  A really bunched up muscle body shortens this piece, or length of tendon to muscle/fascia to tendon.  So this somewhat elastic tissue between your two bones is shorter than it's supposed to be, by a large amount.  When you move, the muscle body is supposed to lengthen.  But the muscle body can't do it because it's too hard.  So the tendons are forced to try.  Imagine. Your muscles have gotten harder and tighter than your tendons.  But the tendons aren't designed to stretch that much.  So their little coil nerve sensors trip their micro-switches and tell your brain that they hurt.  Actually, that's a good wake-up call, so you'll do something to loosen them.  Because if you pull on the tendon much more, it'll tear, and you'll have a body part that hurts a lot more and doesn't work so well anymore.

            This is what tennis elbow is all about.  When you grasp the racquet firmly, with your arm outstretched, you're tightening all the muscles of the arm and, little by little the fascia in the bellies of all those muscles gets shorter and shorter and shorter.  And the arm muscles, shoulder muscles, chest muscles and back muscles all get hard.  Eventually, the point of greatest stress begins to hurt, which is the tendon connected to your triceps muscle on the outside of the upper arm, where it goes to cross the elbow.  Often times, the muscle itself hurts, too.

            Standard physical therapy will apply cold, rest and so forth to try to heal that tendon tissue.  But what is also needed is a relengthening of the fascia in the entire arm, hand, shoulder and upper torso network.

            Carpal Tunnel syndrome is similar.  Improving the ergonomics of the typist's position is now a common preventive measure. But once the pain hits and the tendons are irritated in their sheaths in the wrist, there's already been critical bunch-up and some tendon inflammation.  The muscles that operate the fingers for typing are located in the forearms but they also interconnect to muscles throughout the torso.  And a lot of times, the back is rolled forward because the chest and abdomen have gotten bunched up in the typing position.  This pulls an upper back vertebra out of alignment, which, in turn, creates more arm muscle tightness, even when you're not typing.  Trying to put the vertebrae back in at the chiropractor's is a good idea.  Relengthening the fascia in the muscles that pulled it out of alignment in the first place will help it go in and stay in.

            Yet, even when the arms are really well re-lengthened and the person has much better flexibility in the hands, wrists and arms, there's a lot of pain still left.  Inflammation has occurred and perhaps some tissue damage.

The usual medical treatment for inflammation is often Tylenol or Advil and a brace on the wrist and forearm.  But it often works better if we eat lots of tissue healing food. We need 5-10 times the amount of nutrients to heal as we do to simply maintain.  Here the person needs a lot of minerals, B and C vitamins, and loads of anti-oxidants.  Protein for rebuilding tissue helps, too.  And topical herbal medicine treatment can help heal the inflammation and re-nourish the tissues at the same time.  I, myself, healed an eight-month-old wrist sprain, once and for all, with loads of sea vegetables and two quarts of dark green leafy vegetable juice daily, for three weeks.  This provided me with enormous amounts of calcium, magnesium, manganese (for joints) and dozens of other "synergistic" trace minerals, plus lots of vitamins and the fantastic healing agent and anti-inflammatory, chlorophyll.

            A tendon can tear when things get too tight.  This commonly occurs for football and track runners, and even for basketball players.  A very forceful stride pulls tremendously on a very shortened and hardened muscle on the back of the thighs, in the hamstring area.  And it tears.  While it takes some time for the tissue to heal, it can be helped to heal faster by lengthening the entire leg and pelvic structure very deeply and very thoroughly.  Athletes have told me that it felt good and gave them a faster and more pleasurable recovery time from races.  After there's been tissue healing, deep lengthening can be done right over the injured area.  Athletes said that felt good, too, and they could feel these special manipulations were breaking up the old scar tissue.

            When the whole network of muscles on the back of the legs gets tight, it’ll pull on all the tendons.  And the big Achilles tendon at the back of the ankle can tear.  It can occur in even the best track and field runners and jumpers. The muscles on the back of the calves connect to the heal bones in the foot via this tendon.  When the calf muscles get too short, the tendon can tear.  But very importantly, I also want to point out that the calf muscles are interconnected with the big hamstring muscles on the backs of the thighs. And these get pretty tight themselves.

Achilles tendon problems occur because the fascia in all the leg muscles, gets short, including the adductors on the front inside of the legs.  And it especially occurs because the entire back of the legs has gotten very tight and hard.  The hamstrings are a major player here.  Keep these and the other leg muscles lengthened with connective tissue spreading, and athletes can prevent injuries to these tendons, and other leg muscles and tendons as well.


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