So many people ask me "how did you get this skill- how do you know what to work on?"
I feel like what I know can be learned easily by anyone who is willing to have a conversation. Yes, I have many years of experience in this conversation- but it doesn't mean you can't become diplomatic and problem solving yourself! The reality is that there is always a permission involved in every area of working with people. If you work on emotions with a therapist, or if you work on things in your medical history with a doctor, there are permissions given to access the areas to be worked on. With a therapist there is rapport to build, and safety and non-judgmental culture to be established. With a doctor you allow them a view into the history and symptoms so reasons can be found out for the current state.
For someone who works with bodies- I'm not talking to the conscious mind as much. For me to start a good conversation with the body, first I must be talking to the right part in the machine. You can't just start poking the shoulders and yell "HEY! Everyone will be happy if you just CALM DOWN!" First off- I haven't met anyone with ears on their shoulders... well not literally. The way your muscles get their communication goes through a sensor-filter on the connector of your muscle called the Golgi Tendon Organ which has something called proprioceptors. If there's only one thing you get from all of this- it's this next part. It's the key to this advantage.
Your proprioceptors are a communication conduit mainly in charge of 3 things:
1. How much pain you are in
2. Where you are in space relative to your body
3. And how much power or pressure you're allowed to load that muscle with.
To break this down simply- I've heard it said this way: think of it like a bungee cord. Stretchy in the middle, and hard hooks at the end. Your muscles are made in a similar fashion where the muscle is stretchy and the tendons are hard and attach to the bone on "hooks." Now- inside those hooks are the sensor which- if the hook isn't strong- it won't matter how strong the stretchy part is when it's dangling from space. So it self determines the amount of weight that can be carried in that muscle band.
This science on how to interact with these through Proprioceptive Neural Facilitation (or PNF) has been around for quite some time. The method was mostly developed in the 1980's but then again- some of its origin of concept dates further back to 1557 by Julius Ceasar calling it "sense of locomotion." As much as this is nothing new- improvements have been made even in the last 30 years. Through the influence of contributing sciences- (Chiropractic methods, case studies from massage therapy and physical therapy,) we find ourselves "at hand" *chuckle* with a much more clear and versatile approach called Muscle Phasing or Muscle Tempering.
This method was mostly pieced together by Rick A. Johnson who is a researcher and body-worker, and a keynote speaker for Chiropractic events- Loren Stockton. I would note that further refining has been done by my mentor Jon Thompson. The idea of "phasing" a muscle is that it goes through several back and forth phases in the brain communication process. The muscle self determines its current place, how much it can hold/ move, and re-assesses its capability by "proving" of movement without pain. Think of it this way- the brain sends a request, the muscle judges the possibility of that request being fulfilled (and rates how fast the project can be done) then tries it. If it does well, the estimate for future jobs are affirmed or even improved. The nervous system reassessing part is where we get our advantage with this method.
The benefits of this phenomena is that with most injuries or lack of power or range of motion, the pain is not an acute issue- meaning it's not a recently created problem. Chances are your body has had enough time to make the tissue in the area stable again and since the inflammation is (circumstantially) less it would do much better with full movement again. (Of course- in this method the goal is to create *some* inflammation- but more on that later.) So with accurate action (scraping, pressure or vibration,) on the most restricted areas (bilaterally and synergistic muscle action-wise) there is a much faster restoration of range of motion, allowing the muscle to move more smoothly with less pain and to move powerfully without being disrupted by obsolete danger signals from the brain.
You might say "yeah- but how do you know where the problem is?" That's a great question- I'm so glad you hypothetically asked! Many therapists and well-doers (of all sorts) can wrongly assume that the best idea is to dig in to the biggest lump of mess and start grinding away. (I admit it- I was there!) The problem with that assumption is thinking that just changing the structure is going to fix the problem. In one sense- yes- but no. If that really were the case- then chiropractors would have the easiest jobs and wouldn't have much return business as people wouldn't come back because of being all fixed up and perfectly healthy. Rolfing makes the same assumption- which the intention is good- but downplays a really big factor: the nervous system's self determination.
Your nervous system is like the editor in chief of the news print room that commissions new cells and designates whole departments to take on different jobs. If the editor doesn't feel great about a story- the story is thrown out and they go with a safe choice. If your nervous system feels unsafe about the changes made (in say a PAINFUL situation like Rolphing) So if the story is all doom gloom, grief and agony- no one is going to want to read it. It's much safer to go with a stirred up version of the same ol' same ol' with a touch of improvement. This is what happens when traumatic therapy happens. The body protects itself, despite the assuming therapist's best wishes, and tries to revert as close as is reasonable to what was before. Yes some benefits are lasting (thank goodness!) but the cost is OH so high! Sensitive people seldom return for a second dose of bone crunching assumptions. No one pays for that edition with complete peace.
Now have a take two. A CONVERSATION happens in this story. Someone new comes in to the editor- hands everyone in the department a healthy snack, asks around and tells them to take a few minutes to stretch and breathe. Then they connect with the story of pain at its source- gently- but firmly. They follow the lead next door. Working in some kindness from several directions- the feedback is what changes the conversation- you ask who is being bullied. You throw in some compassion and let it sit. It starts off as a small story, but you revisit it in just a little while. You add some more movement. A whole bunch of little stories become bigger stories, which become the new found reason for the tension somewhere else that started the whole big mess! Now that you've got your source, you take it all the way to problem as everyone else sees it. Since you've made room for empathy and restoration the big mess doesn't feel so intimidated at the idea of some change if it's positive!
Still not convinced there's enough evidence? Pain is the best communicator with the proprioceptor. Even if you're not aware of a pain consciously- you are at some level- that's right- the proprioceptors have the down low. A muscle will exhibit shakiness, a general slowness to engage, or weakness when experiencing pain in a movement. You give the muscles some oxygen, some helpful movement, and some fresh blood at a site that's been starved out due to a pinch on its supplies- and you get an opportunity to apologize in a language a muscle/ proprioceptor can understand! So once you hear out the issue and resolve it you have a lasting solution rather than a temporary payoff from a few extra resources. This is where the drastic difference between most methods of body therapy and Muscle Phasing/ Muscle Tempering sits.
I'm sure you're thinking at this moment about things to bring down inflammation and pain. Those are a part of my conversation- but for today let's just mention them. Don't worry though- I have lots of products, foods and therapies that amplify the benefits of my work in mind. Like I said- i'll mention them here and you can anticipate those conversations to come.
All that said- looking at the proprioceptor (sensor) action, comparing bilaterally (both sides of the body,) in muscle chains (synergistic patterns,) we identify a problem. Then by giving that same system feedback and reset opportunities we help clear out defunct reflex patterns, and eliminate the severity and longevity of issues. Then you have less pain, feel better longer, and I get a job well done.
Thanks for reading! More coming soon.
Peace and Blessings.