I’ve mentioned this topic here and there but it keeps coming up so often that I feel like it needs a post of its own. Our bodies are systems and have lots of parts that interconnect. Muscles are a big interlocking system and once one of them is seriously out of alignment, it’s just about guaranteed that others will be pulled out of alignment. The longer the situation continues without any intervention, the more you will have muscles all over your body that are knotted or twisted or pulling in the wrong direction or squeezing glands or organs.
For a while now I’ve mostly been teaching my movement classes for body workers and I’m finding myself having more and more conversations about clients who can’t understand why you might need to work on the right hip when the pain is in the shoulder or to release the left ankle when the pain is in the left hip. They don’t understand when you try to explain that the muscles connect and that the place of pain is often not where the main problem lies or a connecting muscle that’s out of alignment may have to be addressed in order to heal the pain.
If you severely twist your ankle, all the muscles that are connected to the torqued area are probably going to tighten in response. If any knots or twists from the incident remain (most medical therapies don’t do anything to sort out the muscles after an issue like this) they’re going to lock in more deeply and over time the muscles that connect to the locked ones will be pulled and twisted as well. Eventually the torque in the ankle will impact muscles all the way up that side of the body. Once that side of the body is out of alignment, it will start pulling the other side of the body out of alignment. If you have a variety of accidents – even a small fall or minor twist can contribute– and leave the muscles untouched you’ll have patterns like that going all over the place, interconnecting and yanking on one another. Check out John Upledger, creator of CranioSacral Therapy, for a nice discussion of how patterns begin and linger.
Asking a massage therapist to massage only a shoulder or asking a movement teacher like me to give you movements that only address your hips is kind of like asking to have only the first part of a surgery and insisting that you don’t need the rest. Since I’m so very aware of the connections that link each part of the muscular system to the next it’s hard for me to understand how anyone imagines that their body is somehow made up of isolated parts that just have empty space in between.
I know I’m pretty much preaching to the choir since my readers are folks who already know this; I’m partly just ranting and partly interested to hear what others think about how we (or whether we should) educate people to understand more about the amazing system that the human body is.
To me it’s kind of like our own personal version of the great interconnected web of all life. Just as we want to keep the rivers and oceans and species and plants, etc. alive and playing their roles in the flow of life, we should have the same view of keeping the flow in our own bodies.