Learning Your Body

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Western medical thinking seems to mostly by-pass muscles unless they’re prescribing a muscle relaxant or repairing a serious injury. I’m not sure if that’s why most people have so little understanding about their muscles or if it’s just the general lack of holistic health education. I didn’t understand so much either until I embarked on this long healing journey. Two main pieces I’ve been paying attention to lately are the way patterns set in and spread if there’s an injury and nothing is done to restore and re-balance the muscles and the way those patterns start interconnecting with other unaddressed patterns to create complex patterns of tightness and pain.

I’ve noticed that when a student comes to me because of pain in a hip I often have trouble convincing that student that we need to address the whole body and that there will be other areas that impact the part that hurts. All the massage therapists I know tell me they have the same trouble with clients who don’t want them to work anywhere but on the exact place where they feel pain.

The whole muscular system is interconnected so if you injure a muscle in one area and don’t do anything about it the twist or knots in that area will slowly start pulling on the other muscles around it and when those twist they start pulling on other muscles and so on. Then if you injure a muscle in another area another pattern moves out. Sometimes several patterns wind up intersecting in one place and it’s likely that that’s where you’ll feel pain but a practitioner has to work on all the patterns and they often have to work more at the source of each pattern.

I find when I work with people on my triggers of release stuff they’ll often have results in their shoulders, for instance, not only from working on the shoulders but also from the hands, wrists, elbows, hips, low back, neck, knees, ankles and feet. Which other areas have the most impact will vary depending on each person’s patterns.. Once people work with the movements and check in to before and after results they start seeing how much one area can impact another.

Dr. Janet Travell expanded on the earlier work of Dr. Dudley Morton to develop a body of work on myofascial pain and trigger points that was later used to create Myofascial Therapy and since then a number of therapies have developed that work with these theories. John Upledger in writing about his Craniosacral Therapy discussed how one fall, if no treatment to restore the muscles was done, could lead to pain and problems in many other areas years later. The best advice is that any time you fall or have a painful injury you should visit a skilled massage therapist (I highly recommend Cremeans’ Bodypatterning but it’s available only in limited places at the moment) or craniosacral therapist and also practice some movements like the triggers of release developed by Feldenkrais and Robert Masters (my Kindle book, Restoring Fluidity and Freedom of Movement, combines these movements with yoga).

If you’ve rarely or never had bodywork to get your muscles back to health and, especially, if you’ve had falls and accidents where treatment ignored your muscles, then it may take a long time to restore your muscles to good health. This is not a go to the doctor and get a shot or pill to end the symptoms kind of thing. You can take pills to get rid of the pain but they won’t address the actual problem. Getting your muscles back to health is a commitment of time and energy. If you do something like my movement work in between appointments it will go much faster but you need to start down the path to restoring your body with a willingness to be patient and count success in small increments.

In relation to a spiritual journey, all those knots and twists in your muscles are blocking the nadis, which are the channels through which prana and kundalini flow. Besides balancing the chakras, the main point of yoga is keeping those channels open on the theory that it isn’t possible to reach enlightenment if the energy can’t flow freely through your body.

Please, if you’re in a car accident or fall on the ice or get knocked down by a falling shelf (etc.) take care of your muscles! If you haven’t ever done much to get your muscles unwound and aligned properly, start!

Submitted for Jenny Matlock’s AlphabeThursday, which is “L” this week.

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8 thoughts on “Learning Your Body

  1. Our muscles do so much, keeping our bodies erect and moving. Sometimes, I thnk we forget how much they do. Except when they hurt! This was a very interesting article. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!

  2. I was 23, and my whole left leg was in increasing distress. My hip joint became inflexible and painful; my back started to hurt on the left side. I finally worked up the courage to go to the doctor, and he explained that I had a small (one square centimeter if that) bone fragment in my foot. He gave me a temp orthotic to retrain my foot to walk flat instead of on its side, and all my pain disappeared in a fortnight. So when anything hurts, I tend to focus on my feet, and I never doubt when someone says things are all connected.

  3. Amen!

    It’s sometimes hard to hear the words our bodies have to share.

    But, oh my, when we listen…

    …it is a lot easier to get the messages!

    I really liked this link. I totally agree with your philosophy here.

    Thank you.

    A+

    • Yes–I find it mysterious that this country has reached a place where most people are raised to ignore their bodies entirely and stay as numb to pain and symptoms as possible…

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