Dissolving Body Glue: Myofascial Unwinding
Trauma, physical injury, chronic postural distortions and even extensive immobility can create lines of tension within the fascial sheaths of the body. Each of the physical experiences that we have in our lives come with an emotional component that is generated in us as a response to the situation. In bodywork, many aspects of such physical treatment and therapy are addressing the structural aspect of the experience, not the emotional. It’s time to realize that complete healing and complete recovery require a release of the tissue and the related emotions. Have you ever flinched as someone touched you in a certain place, without remembering an injury you sustained to that area many years ago? This is the essence of tissue memory and the basis of chronic pain, chronic postural issues and the underlying basis for motivating our body in its movements every day of our lives.
As a result of replaying body movements and restrictions that are associated with past traumas, issues and habits, we will develop a pattern of movement that is a reflection of our past and limits our future. This can twist and distort our muscles and connective tissue causing strands of dense fibrous tissue to continue holding and protecting various parts of our structures in painful and unbalanced positions.
Many times, these changes will have begun as a result of an injury or trauma to the body. Any time we experience unexpected injuries, falls, accidents or traumas, we also have feelings and ideas that are associated with these incidents. Just as the structure retains a physical memory of the injury within the twists and spasms of the affected tissue, so the nervous system can also retain attached memories, fears and subconscious emotions that we experienced with the initial physical injury. As the memories dim over time, our body will continue to react to these sub-conscious images without our conscious awareness. And thus begins the separation of our conscious awareness from our own body.
In Myofascial Unwinding the therapist gently begins to unwind these tissue tensions, allowing the memories to begin to be released. This will cause the body to "replay" body movements that are associated with the memory which is a rather amazing and unpredictable process. As the body relaxes in the therapist’s hands, the nervous system takes over and releases stored tensions like the uncoiling of a spring, allowing nerves which have been trapped for a very long time, to elongate and restore normal function. This can remove years of pain and discomfort. There can be repetitive movements during the relase which can last up to an hour, many of which duplicate the initial movements of the injury or trauma. For instance, a competition waterskier that I treated began to unwind and his legs actually began to move as though he were slaloming through the water. This indicated that the waterskiing had overloaded his body’s mechanics and created a repetitive pattern which was the underlying reason for his chronic tendonitis.
It is almost as though a trigger has been pulled in one area of the body, that will then release all the areas that have shifted to accomodate the problem area. This may be similar to uninstalling a program on your computer instead of simply trying to delete it. The program may have inserted connections and parts of itself into other areas of the computer memory and even changed sections of the programming for your desktop, internet connection, etc. You can’t simply work on the biceps when there are connections controlling the habitual movement of the biceps that extend from as far away as the pelvis.
This type of therapy is particularly recommended for anyone whose body issues, pain and restricted motion can be traced back to an initiating injury, accident or physical trauma. Signs for Myofascial Relase would be pain that returns only hours or days after your massage, unconscious muscular resistance to movement, twitching during relaxation especially before sleep, emotional release during massage. It is especially wonderful for those suffering with chronic pain, as it is gentle, painless and relaxing while providing the most needed of therapies.
Karen S. Clickner, N.D. is also an Advanced Myofascial Release practitioner trained by John Barnes. Her clinic ISIS Holistic Clinic has a number of Myofascial Release practitioners in Brookline, MA.