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Lou Gross Answers an E-Mail Client's Questions
He was asking because he wanted to get the Videos.
Mis-Alignment, Shortness, Basic Imbalance,
    Muscle Tightness, Interconnected tightness

Louis A. "Lou" Gross  BSEE
Master Postural Integrator since 1983
   22,000 hrs & 23 years - Body Structure Improvement Experience
   Olympic Athletes, Runners & Coach-Trainer
 4-pgs of Testimonials
   Championship Jr. College Track Team Consultant-Practitioner
   Innovative Stretching Coach since 1984
 321 726 9083

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His Introductory Emails to Me
(His words in reddish, mine in black)

I have spent the last couple of years trying to
correct the tightness in my body.  My alignment has
been off for years. 

I did have about 13 rolfing sessions which helped a little but didn't solve my problems. 

I'm between 5' 11" - 6 ft tall.  I'm about 200-210 lbs.  I
mainly do body weight exercises, cardio (mostly
walking on tread climber), exercise bands, and power
yoga.  Although, I haven't been doing much for the
last month except for pushing a stroller and doing
pushups since the birth of my daughter. 

You say in another email that the Rolfers just focused mainly on steps 1-10.  But in my experience a large person like you really needs 25, probably 30 hours including very deep muscle lengthening to get your whole body thoroughly enough so the bones and joints, as well as the separation between muscles, all are free enough.  This occurs when enough is also made "longer."  And my Stretching between Hands-on Sessions usually helps the hands-on do more as well as making improvements with the stretching itself.

And you have had 13 sessions x 1.5 hrs/sessions = 19-20 hours.
And without the extra stretching time each day.  Plus, having sessions a week apart, you will be re-accumulating fascial shortness in between their treatments.  The standard method's philosophy is to allow gravity's downward pull to work on the structure between sessions, but my own experience says that a lot of hours right away, 3-4 per day, a number of days in a week or two, works better on such a thick, long term hard structure.  We get ahead of the daily activity and we loosen all the hard stuff that gravity couldn't loosen anyway.

Further, I often recommend to tight & big people that they hold off on their running, cycling & weight work until I can get a lot opened & loosened.  Otherwise, when people do hard training between Bodywork sessions, the tendency is to bunch up and tighten some of what I have already re-lengthened.  So to make continuous progress, I like to do a lot sooner, and then enable the athlete to work out or run once the structural muscles are lengthened deeply & their gluing together is opened, and so we see some alignment.  But it "can" be done a couple of hours each week if need be.

There is also a feeling among a few practitioners that a person's body can only handle about an hour at a time.  With my own technique, and when people also eat a lot of dark green vegetable juices and eat a lot of seaweed, their fascia becomes softer and thus easier to spread, and the muscle fibers are healthier and recover from deep pushing through the fascia, much faster.  People who ate like this could handle 3-4 hrs/day 4-6 days in a row.  Other people can handle even 2-hrs a day, ongoing, when we stretched at the beginning of the sessions.

You have had the right idea; and I would guess your Rolfers did as good a job as could be done given the way the session hours were spaced out.   It is just that maybe no-one told you how many hours you really needed.  And the kind of fascia pulling stretching, that emulates the hands-on, makes it possible for the hands-on to really get that deep.  In my own experience, getting, for instance, 3-4 inches deep into the muscle-fascia systems of the thighs and abs, has required I do the stretching method with the person as well. 

In my own 5 ft 7 in 145 lb frame, I also needed a lot of strong yoga stretching to get my structure "really" long and open.  And I also had to change the cellular structure itself with the alkaline green leafy, high enzyme, high mineral content foods.  So that's why I recommend the stretching and the nutrition to everyone else - in fact, clients and friends who have done this also got great hands-on results as well.

I have been doing quite a bit of self massage with various tools/balls and have made further progress but not enough to satisfy me.  My injuries have led to a lot of structural imbalance in my body that I'm trying to correct. 

Having been a personal trainer for years, as you said in another email, your tissues are probably rather healthy, just from the exercise, based on my experience.  But you will reduce the tightness in your body much more and much faster with the fascial spreading technique that we use in Structural Integration, added to your muscle massage pressing technique.  Thus, you are intuitively correct in seeking out a stretching approach that lengthens the fascia to go along with your deep pressing massage.  But in my experience, the deep pushing does not move the fascia much. 

There needs to be a hand technique that moves through the tissue like a spreading movement through putty.  And as the outer layers are done, then a lot of opening between the muscles in the fascia in-between, and then pushing onto the sides of the muscles deeply -I often have to use my elbow angled into the muscles in the hamstrings for this part, but I can do it with fingers in many people's adductors.

My How-to-do Hands-on Videos also complement the stretching because I show how to lengthen the many muscles of the head and add a lot to the lengthening and opening in the torso and limbs that the stretching does.  They will teach you both the spreading hands-on technique and the way a session is organized to lengthen large areas of the body by loosening ad lengthening what we call interconnected muscle groups, & even sometimes in a specific order.

Injuries also create a number of opposing tightnesses.  So working just on the areas in pain is not as effective as also working on the opposite side of the body, and up or down the length of the body. where the tightnesses there are holding in the tightnesses you feel the most.

I have knots the size of baseballs in my neck that won't seem to loosen up.  I think my right shoulder hangs funny which leads to a lot of my problems.  I lean against a wall with
different types of balls and dig into the shoulder/trap area quite a bit.  It helps but there must be surrounding fascia/muscles that are problems as well.

When you just press directly in, without spreading the fascia, you can do what might be called trigger point therapy, but it is only a neuro-muscular temporary release technique. 

The neck is ALWAYS affected by tight hamstrings, abdominals and leg-thigh adductor muscles - all being short in the fascia, even if yhou have joint movement and flexibility.  It is the bellies of the muscles that are short in the fascia.  When I do a lengthening of a person's abdomen, the neck always seems to release in the back.  When we do the hamstrings, the neck and upper back releases, and the abdominals release vertically even more.  This is how the Structural Integration Method of the fascial lengthening "system" is constructed in the various steps of the "recipe."

You are correct in figuring out there are more muscles that are tight.  But the education I should give you should explain and show you what even more distant tightnesses are doing to keep your shoulder area tight.  Head tightness, that everyone gets, adds to the neck staying tight.  And that is indeed a big issue for a lot of people with tight necks.  The arm shortness in the fascia, even if the arms don't hurt, also affect the neck, shoulders & upper back & chest.  A big issue is your front to back zig zag that I explain about way below.

Your shoulder blades and neck are having to pull backward tightly to keep your structure erect in the face of shortness in the legs and all over the front of the torso.  Your abs are short, so the rib cage and neck-head are pulled forward and down.  To counter balance this, or we could say, to hold your head, neck and chest upward, you have automatically pulled back with the middle back area, the shoulder blade area and the upper back-neck area.  Once you relengthen the front and lower areas, the upper and back areas can release more completely, and easily.  That is how the Structural Integration Bodywork steps are actually arranged.

He told me what part of his structural shape looked like and then I asked further
My initial questions are in black on --- lines,
His replies are in dark red,
then my next replies are in brown on +++ lines.

---1.  Besides the bump out in the lumbar area, are
any of the vertebrae there sunken in, like, there would be a notch in the spine going inward below it, or there would be a notch above it?

I don't feel a notch.  It seems fairly hard and
compact below the bump.

---2.  Is there a notch in the vertebrae in you neck
when you hold your head up?

I feel what could be considered a notch about an inch
or two inches below the hairline then it is fairly
bony where the neck meets the shoulders.

---3.  Are your erector muscles bulging out in like
ridges, on either side of the spine going up the back?

Yes, without question.  I feel a lot of tightness
through my mid back when holding the baby for extended periods of time.

---4.  Is there a flat area of the lower back?

Yes, kind of.

+++These thru number 4 all indicate the deep tightness in the legs all around and in the abdominal area.  You get tightness in the mid back because in addition to the tightness you already have in the back, the front in the abs are short and so you tighten even further with back muscles right above the abdominal shortness in the front, in order to remain erect holding the baby.

---5.  Do your hamstrings bulge out in the middle of
the back of the thigh even if you are just standing still?

I believe so, they are certainly tight.  My calves are often really tight as well, and the bottom of my left foot hurts periodically.  I do a lot of work on these areas but I'm beginning to realize that all progress is eventually lost b/c the tightness in the abs, which I certainly feel now, causes it to tighten up again.

+++I would say the need is for a lot more fascial spreading in the legs.  Yet is is true that when the abs get longer in their own fascia, then the zig zag will reduce that way, too.  But your big legs, need fascial lengthening deep down and from toes on up. You get foot pain probably because the muscles from the calves that go to the bottom of the foot - and those to the top of the foot - are tight and the thighs keep the lower legs tight.
+++When the abs are short, the only way to stand upright is to swing the thighs forward & arch the back backward, & that makes the back muscles tight & also makes the leg muscles tight to counterbalance the weight of your torso leaning backward.  So you don't fall over to the back.  But when this happens, the legs lean forward & the calves in back, bulge outward, like, to try to hold the weight of the legs going forward by tightening the back of the calves to hold them onto the hell and foot.  So your foot tightness can be caused by this.

---6.  Are your kneecaps in line with your feet
direction or do they point forward awhile the feet splay out.

The right foot is closer to being in line with the
knee but I think it is off slightly, my left foot
(actually the entire lower leg below the knee seems to
be rotated inward.  When I rotate it outward I feel it
in my left hip and if I straighten my foot, I feel it
all through the lower leg muscles.

+++In general I would say the whole thing is a lot of hamstring shortness that turns the lower leg bones from the knee.  It can also be now in ligament shape but the h/s are a big culprit.  You feel it in the side of the pelvis because the whole pelvis is also bunched up.  When you feel it tight when you try to rotate the foot outward to be straight, you feel the areas of tightness that are holding the leg-hip joint in this position.  The out sides of the pelvis, the inner hip rotators inside the buttocks, even the adductors in the medial or middle side of the thigh could be short, and pulling the thigh turned toward the middle.  Allof them cause the turning, so it helps to lengthen all of it including the lower legs.

---7.  The left leg, the one where the foot turns inward, is the kneecap also in line with the foot?  Is there more of a misalignment of the kneecap than on the other leg.  And do you feel extra tightness in that leg, in that side of the pelvis, or
in the lower back on that side?

The bone that I mentioned near my tailbone on the left
side is something I remember the chiropractor telling
me about years ago.  I vaguely remember that much, my
tailbone is certainly deformed after the fall I took.
I'm not sure I could explain the bone or what caused
it better than that without seeing the xray again.

+++When you fell, was it just on the rear middle or was your body turned somewhat to one side - maybe the left side.  That would compress the left side.

Yes, the left leg looks crooked, the knee is more in
line with the foot but both seem to rotate toward the
midline.  My left shoulder feels more supported by the
left leg than the right side does.  The right shoulder
hangs farther forward and is more internally rotated.

+++If I had a digital or Polaroid-regular set of photos I could see
and describe better - obviously you have a side to side tilt and
rotation as well as front to back tilt.  This is common & lengthening the whole structure to deeper & deeper levels gets to the muscles and interconnected muscles that are now all in a fascia shape.  You might even look like this floating in the Space Shuttle as well as when you stand and tighten against the shortnesses already combined with the downward pull of ravity.

I will probably order the #1 stretching video to see
how it works out for me.

+++Yes number one - I suggest the number three as well because it shows a couple kinds of rotational stretches and a LOT of hands-on. You will also then be able to do some things for your wife and baby.
+++Remember that fascia is one big bodysuit.   So it works best going round and round as well as targeting the areas that really need more as a key factor.
+++The Athlete's Book has a step by step of the hands-on and a general explanation of the phases of the process, in muscle groups.  Not a muscle by muscle sequence but an area explanation.  It also has a part on how different areas affect other areas, like hamstrings affect such and such.  It's brief in each item but would be helpful in knowing what to work as a group.  Like, some people get benefits in the adductors after my coached stretching of new torso uplifts.

Another EMAIL
Where I describe
more about this basic or standard
imbalance of the whole structural shape.

I am emphasizing that this person has a Basic or Standard Imbalanced shape - from what was explained here and earlier.  And I explain that imbalanced shape.

---Overall, I can say you have what is called the basic, or standard, imbalance (because millions of people have it) with some extra tightness and misalignment, probably caused from both the distortions from the injuries and also because you are big and strong, so you will have the anterior shortness (which I explain a little below) and then the pulling back muscular effort you would automatically do to keep standing up straight.
---I point out this front to back common zig zag in my videos 1,2,3,4 and explain what to do about it, providing stretching movements and hands-on manipulations to improve the situation.  So your idea to get them initially is an accurate solution. 
---Once you get into loosening and seeing how to “unravel” your structure, you may want to get another hands-on session from a professional to get more of the tissues “deeper” to be able to stretch better.  But you will be more knowledgeable this time around to know where someone should lengthen in order to be more effective.  And you will be looser and longer, deeper, and all over, so the specific hand fascial spreading would make a nicer, bigger difference. (That's what I have felt in me and in what happens for my clients.)
---A lot of what I say here you may already know.  But since our emphasis is on spreading fascia appropriately, I describe it.

I'll try to explain my situation a little further.  If
I reach around to my spine I can feel a lower lumbar
vertebrae sticking out.  I believe the front of it
dips forward with the back of it popping up (I can't
remember what the chiropractor I went to years ago
called it).

---This makes sense – it’s an anterior downward tilting vertebrae toward the front - it means your psoas muscles which connect at the top to the transverse processes of the lumbar vertebrae, and also to
their vertebral main bodies, are shortened (tight) and the bottom of the psoas is connected to the top medial (inner) side of the thigh bones, which also indicates that the adductors are tight (down the inside of the thigh) and the medial lower legs and even front of thighs and legs are short (tight).
---This is common; a lot of people have forward leaning lumbar areas.  It’s more common to have the vertebrae not protruding, but it is somewhat common to have one or more bump out to the back.
---You may even have an inward then outward then inward then outward front to back to front zig zag of the spine.  A photo of the spine from a 45 deg rear-side angle often can show this.
---If we measured the length with a tape measure, from that vertebra, especially, through the abdomen and then down the front of your legs to your feet, it would be shorter than the muscular distance down the
back side to the heels.
---This is not an easy or quick thing to fix totally, the specific spinal protrusion, even with a lot of hands-on, but the tightness and postural misalignments can get better fairly soon.  In fact, it is sometimes easier to get more lengthening with appropriate fascial
stretching.  But in general, the combo of the two works best.  Since you’re already had a lot of hands-on, the stretching part is, from my past experience including with my own structure, a good thing to start doing.  Some amounts of your old tightness did get loosened or
straightened, but I do not know how much yet.  More explanation on this is below.

--After getting some of these videos' improvements done, so that you are noticing it is making more and more length, a chiropractic adjustment now and then can possibly give a boost to the proper positioning of the vertebrae (that you at that point have allowed to
occur more, from the lengthening you will have been doing - there is enough room for the vertebra to be put into the proper position when the muscle-fascia of all the areas interfacing to the back are longer.) And, also, it might tell you in a precise spot or 2 or 3, where you need to lengthen more (among other places – see my analyses below). 

Instead of bending from my hips for example, it feels as if I bend from this vertebrae that pops out.

---That would seem part of the condition.  You seem to have it that the back is already bent forward at this tilt.  The bending forward is due to whatever is in front – anterior – to that vertebra, and is
pulling it to the front and down to the floor location in your body, where the line of muscles and organs ends up.  Maybe the shortest parts are up in the belly or thighs, but the picture, so to speak, makes it still
angled forward. 
---Shortened abdominals as well as the psoas can also cause this pull to the front.
---When this place in the back where you bend from is the case, everything above this location in your body also gets angled as well.  (I describe it in more detail of what general muscle areas are affected and what the shape becomes, in my back book.)

I don't have the normal lower back/tailbone curve.

---I assume you mean what it is supposed to look like in the anatomy books and what a lot of people do have; a smooth curve without a lot of jam-ups & nothing protruding.  Is this what you mean?   Moving down from that vertebrae (which is probably the 3rd or 4th lumbar),
---L3 and L4 is indeed the location of the adductor-psoas shortness where it impacts the spine in the basic imbalance, the rest feel compressed finishing into a hard, bony point of a tailbone. 

I believe the front of my pelvis tilts forward and the back of the pelvis and lumbar spine all pull in tightly together.

---You are describing the exact condition of the basic imbalance.  In the pelvic area it is known as an anterior tilt.  And the cause is exactly what I described above.  The primary part of the solution is
to lengthen the adductors as well as all the rest in the “chain” of anterior muscles.  Rolfing (r) (the original brand name of Structural Integration) has steps 4,5,6,7 to specifically horizontalize the pelvis (because Ida Rolf (r) recognized this “standard” imbalance, as she termed it).
---The tightness pulling together - could be vertical tightness and also width tightness toward the inside.  The vertical I have been describing.  The width tightness in the lower back is often from the shortened deep adductors.  They pull the whole pelvis into the medial or middle line.  You might also have tightness in the outside of the pelvis in the gluteus medias & gluteus minimus which are there, and that will make the Illio-tibial tract (IT Band) tight.  This is a tendon coming from the connection of the Gluteus Maximus in back with the tensor-fascia-lata muscle in the front.  That makes the side of the thigh tight and the lower leg also gets tight from this side tightness in the pelvis and thigh.  When we have the basic imbalance of the front to back zig zag we also get the muscles in the buttocks, including the gluteus maximus, tight.
---And in all fairness to your Rolfers (r), they may not have had enough time to accomplish this deeply enough since you are large structurally, or your muscle-fascia was too hard in physical consistency to get it to lengthen with their hands-on techniques.
---You were correct in attempting to get more done by getting more sessions from other practitioners.  But, of course, I don't know what they did.
---As a footnote:  The tissue would be hard like that, commonly, (if it was) from being tight for a long time, or from a diet of not enough fruits and vegetables, or from injuries, or and even if you continued to make it compressed during the time period of treatment
of 1 session a week, from regular weight work and running.  
---Re-bunch-up causes the practitioner to have to redo thru the same areas – although the tissue will give way a lot easier and faster the second time.  But it can also keep the misalignment of front-back zig-zag in your body, and that in itself will keep the inner muscle strain with the legs pulling tight against the back, the back pulling tight against the legs, and the psoas in between, connected at its two ends to both these places, will be stuck tight all the time.
---That's why I have my stretching videos for people who also get hands-on.  The stretching can improve on this.  And then a person can do the same technique with other stretching & yoga.  I do this in my own yoga classes.
---This analysis of multiple muscles explains why working a lot on the psoas specifically is not a complete solution.  In Rolf’s (r) sequence, both the leg part and the back part also have to be done.  And the sequence does not have to be done exactly as in the standard method, but all the areas do have to be lengthened.  I went to a workshop where they showed us how to do the abdomen and chest first, even into the psoas, and for some of my classmates, we saw knee cap angles straighten out just from the abdominal-psoas lengthening.  And then we did the back, very importantly , to make both sides open.  But there are other “structural organization” reasons Rolf (r) does it this way.
---All areas, though, have to be done very deeply and all over for someone your size and with your distortions from accidents in both the buttocks tailbone area and the shoulder-neck area
I feel like the front of my body opens for the most part except for the quads and chest. Although the area through the ribs and solar plexus seems very tight as well.

---Chest tightness (besides the rib cage and other muscles itself) comes from both abs tightness-psoas tightness-leg tightness and from arm-shoulder tightness.  It also always comes from back tightness.  I have done some good hands-on for people sitting in a chair, on the back, and as I got deeper, their front loosened and opened.  I have done deep adductors in the thighs and the chest released from this, too.  The adductors hold the abs and psoas short, so in the sequence we lengthen the inner legs and then the abdominal area and then even add more of the chest lengthening and widening.  I do this a lot.  When the abdominal area is longer, the pull on the chest rib cage is less, so the muscles of the chest can open now more.  With tight abs and tight adductors, the muscles of the chest are pulled closer together by "the outside force" so trying to open an area above is not the place to be opening - it is the interconnected areas that are tighter that need to be lengthened first.
---In addition, we learn from doing the sequence of steps that the adductor tightness keeps the quads on the front of the thighs from adequately lengthening.  And when we do deep;y in the hamstrings on the back of the thigh, after the front has been lengthened somewhat, that goes thru the connection inside the pelvis, from the ischium sitting bone to the lower most part of the abdominus rectus in the front of the belly, behind or underneath, the pubic bone.  WHen the hamstrings as another piece of the network are lengthened, their pull on the bottom of the abs releases and people feel their abdominals getting longer and the pull at the top of the abs by the diaphragm releases, too.  So then we would want to lengthen and broaden the chest even more.
---Perhaps the Rolfers (r) did not get into loosening the abdominals long enough to free up the ribs, or maybe they did not separate the ribs one from another with lengthening the intercostals.  And short fascia in the arms, even if they move OK, always keeps chests tight
in the deeper muscles (as well as necks & shoulders tight).

---Quad tightness indicates hamstring tightness and lower leg front and back tightness.  And adductor tightness.  Hamstrings seem to be involved in EVERY leg tightness.

My head does kind of stick out like, there isn't good spacing between the cervical vertebrae.  Basically, my entire spine seems compressed.  If I lay flat on the floor I can put my hand easily between my lower back and the floor.

---These three things almost always go together.  Your overall structure is, as you say, very tight, and you can visually see how it is zig zagged. 
---The hand under low back almost always indicates short abs and adductors (besides back muscles and maybe even the shortened hamstrings are contributing).  The pelvis is being pulled and tilted such that there becomes an arch in the lower back.
---For people I have seen, head sticking forward is from being tall and having to look down, or from looking over a desk or drawing board, or from the excessive zig zag in the lower back- so that the lower back arches backward, the chest spine curves forward and the neck spine extends out front from this upper thoracic curve to the front.  The neck and the lower back area are kind of parallels to each other. 
---Jammed vertebrae indicates the whole body suit is short but more specifically, the front is short as you have described (quads and chest) so you have to tighten your back to try to pull up the torso, neck and head in order to walk around all day without being forced to look at your feet.   Ida Rolf (r) even used to call this a large part of the condition of “being at war with gravity.”
---Tight hamstrings, in a line of tissue going down the back of the body, also cause jamming in the neck and back vertebrae.  Usually, both conditions are in everybody. When you arch backward to counter the front shortness, you will also be tightening the back of the legs and buttocks, as well as the back, neck and head.  In the 10-step sequence, we have to lengthen even the back of the legs deeply in order for the jaw tightness to release.  It is pulling all the way down, and also, pulling the head and neck back to counter the pull down in front, makes the back of the head and the jaw tight, too.

As for my right shoulder/chest/neck area.  If I put my right hand behind my lower back with the back of my hand against my back (like a wing), my right shoulder blade pops out a couple of inches.

---Another indication of back shortness and abdominals-chest shortness.  You describe things very accurately and your continuing interest in getting the fascia lengthened “enough” is absolutely accurate.  With shortened abs - and therefore shortened everything else as I described, you have to arch back with the upper back including the shoulder blade area.  And when you put the am to the back under you as you describe, the chest tightness is causing the shoulder blade to pop out more.

---What I also tell people to do is apply the foods in my Foods for Structure article on the website.  This helps the neuro-muscular part of the structural length to stay released and it helps the fascia spread longer and easier.

My right knee clicks when I walk up the steps in my house. 

---If this is not from a torn or pulled knee ligament, it also means tight legs, even just tight hamstrings.  There could be an imbalance between the adductors & the outside of the thighs, meaning the illio tibial tract (and that is also the pelvic muscles as I described, and also the psoas play a role because then affect downward into the adductors.)
---An exercise to strengthen the adductors is to be on a pushing foot machine to make small movements.  With a longer pushing movement the outside of the pelvis is worked instead.   But it is a systemic shortness in the overall picture that should be lengthened and then focus on the specifics with exercises.

My left foot is turned in somewhat.

---Oh, this indicates that the left medial leg muscles, psoas, gluteus maximus and/or hip rotators are short.  I addressed this way up at the top of this page.

I believe in addition to the spinal maladies I mentioned above, there is a small bone to the left side of my lumber vertebrae/tailbone that tightens up that area as well and forces the spine out of place slightly.

---Please name the bone – you can look on my website’s links page to Neat Anatomy Stuff and in it the Gray’s Anatomy book on the internet.
---Maybe it is a cyst, a fatty little bump that might wiggle to the finger pressure.  Yours is further down but I once had one of a half inch diameter about T12 – L1 level.  Without seeing it I can’t tell what it is.  If it is in the buttocks next to the tailbone or sacrum then maybe it is part of those bones.
---I have never heard of a small bone there in the lower back above the pelvic bone crest.  Maybe it’s something else that’s hard, or part of the big bones of the pelvis, or something is indeed changed in the shape of your tailbone or sacrum.
---As far as forcing the spine sideways, this could be a contributing factor but I have usually found it is deep structural muscles that are having a much larger impact, including in the legs and what was smushed tighter when you fell..

My entire back feels compressed along the spine with
areas of deep tightness right up into the neck/head.

---This is, as I said, common from people having to arch – or pull – the back backward to compensate for the shortness in front.  You have to tighten the back to the neck and head and down the back of the legs to hold yourself erect.  And the shortness in the hamstrings and calves as well as adductors pulls down on the whole spinal erector muscle system between all the vertebra.
---In video 1,I am in the beginning, demonstrating this pull back versus the fascial spreading, stretching that does what I call “elongation lengthening;” we stretch to make the whole cylinder around the torso longer, rather than tightening the back to try to make just the front longer.   I call the just pulling back tightly a "rubber band" like pull and it is not lengthening  the fascial collagen fibers' locations thru the fluid of the fascia,  like spreading the furniture in your living room back out longer from a compressed bunch up of them.

If I had to pick a symbol on my keyboard as a
description of how I feel.  I think < or {would be it.

--Exactly.  The basic imbalance.  The pulling back is in the thighs, lower legs and heels as well as in the torso and neck.  Even the head and jaw are affected, and so are the upper arms.  I often demo to in-person folks to feel my upper arm with their fingers, or my jaw line, or different places along the back or back of the legs – and I lean forward to simulate what the front of the body will be shortened in, and then I lean backward to simulate what the pulling back in compensation does.  And people feel the tightness in all those areas.
---Once there is more length, people also feel in their own bodies when it is tightening up again.  But this time they know more about what is going on if they have read or listened to someone describing it.

---In a nutshell, my method of stretching recognizes all of this dialogue from both of us, and gives stretches to straighten it out.  And my hands-on videos teach body therapists and other folks how to do a lot of the technique – even when they have not been to Structural Integration school.  My phone session, initially, helps people get the feel (and understanding) for it all while I am there and guiding them.



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