Wow! The month of August has come and gone so quickly this year. One of the themes I have noticed this month in my practice is the body’s response to transition. Towards the middle to end of August almost everyone in my practice is transitioning in some way. Whether it’s the simple movement towards autumn, going back to work after spending time with family/friends or just reassessing what the next year will hold, everyone has something that they are transitioning into this time of year. And what I’ve noticed in the body is huge leaps forward in healing and/or recurrence of old injuries, aches/pains. Our bodies are such great record keepers of what we are walking through in our lives. They keep us on track with an incredibly intricate and intimate relationship with our minds. In my own experience, I have taken another deep dive into P-DTR® (Proprioceptive Deep Tendon Reflex). After two 4-day weekends of 64 hours of material, my brain feels like it is oozing out of my ears. Even though I thoroughly enjoy the information and find it completely fascinating, it takes some time for my mind and body to fully digest what I’ve learned. And each time I learn something new, there is a transition phase; where I enter into my practice with a refreshed perspective on how I see my client’s conditions and the best tack for treating them. As much as I enjoy this perspective shift, it can also be a bit disorienting. I’m in the process of expanding my view to include what I see under the lens of the new information I’ve learned. I can feel my body hold tension with this shift. And I am being asked by my body to move slowly with the new perspective so the tension does not become solid, rather it is more of a navigational tool on how to move forward. I know I probably sound like a broken record but I have to say it again, the human body is amazing!
Those of you who have seen me for treatment more than a few times know I have a serious bias against surgery. Conversely, I have a serious faith in the body’s ability to heal itself if given the correct input and care. In a few months I’m electing for surgery. It’s not a big deal but it is something I have put off for 25 years and I have recently decided is something I need to do. I discovered a small lipoma on my ribcage (benign fatty tumor) around the size of walnut in my twenties. When I asked my GP about it he said, “Well, I can refer you to a plastic surgeon to have it removed or you can just wait until it gets big enough to carry around in a backpack and then have it removed.” At 25, I was even more hypervigilant about surgery than I am now so I opted to see how things would progress. Well, they have progressed alright. With hormonal changes and my body’s need to hold onto more fat, the lipoma is at an uncomfortable size and I’ve decided I need to soften my opinions (once again). It turns out the things I’ve held most dear about the body are sometimes true but not 100% just like everything else in life. Now that my cognitive understanding is being lived out in my body, I have to adjust my entire nervous system’s response to being invaded by a scalpel, being helped by very sharp, precise, instrument to remove what I know will be problematic if I let it go. So, all of this is to say, the body is my best teacher for how to go with the flow, be exceptionally caring, and avoid getting too bogged down in thinking something is one way or the other. Everything has its place and the body is such a magnificent example of that concept.
Even though time is an abstract concept developed and maintained by humans, it seems to direct and determine the health and function of many systems in our bodies. Recent research states that the time of day that you eat has an impact on your cells and their ability to detox. Similarly, the timing of the bones meeting one another during gait has a profound impact on when muscles fire and how the body moves while walking. For example, one of the most important movements of the femur during gait is the “screw down” movement that the happens as the femur meets the tibial plateau and the fibula. The movement of the fibula before the femur screws down is essential for adequate firing of the quadriceps in gait as well as the inhibition (relaxation) of oppositional muscles in the kinetic chain. Maybe timing IS everything?
To continue with last month’s theme, all of the bones in the feet are designed to move while we walk. True pronation, which is the first phase of gait, means that each one of the 33 bones in the feet move in certain directions to cue the rest of the bones and muscles in the body creating forward movement. Because of this necessity for the bones of the feet to move, my approach to most orthopedic issues starts with the feet. Movement is natural to humans and immobility often results in pain. Walking is one of the most potent forms of human movement in terms of resetting the body’s neuromuscular system while simultaneously positively impacting organ health.
One of the coolest things that I learned from Gary Ward is the correspondence between the bones of the feet and the bones of the spine. For example, in his findings, the great toe (big toe) often corresponds to issues related to the atlas and axis (first two cervical vertebra) of the spine. It is amazing to watch when clients have neck issues and a neurological reset is made in the toes their necks feel better. There are lots of correspondences like this in the body primarily because nerves and fascia are in most areas of the body and there is now study being done on how these tissues communicate with one another. The body really is an amazing organism and its function and capacity are still being discovered.
Let’s start with the feet. I have had a long and arduous relationship with my feet. They have been bound with athletic tape, sprained, torn, iced until numb and generally hated on by me most of my life. In third grade I was wearing a size 6 shoe and my babysitter fashioned the name “Big Foot” which became the way most people addressed me until I was in high school.
I really thought my feet failed me in so many ways. Then I met the amazing and gifted movement specialist Suzy Babcock of Kinesthetics in Sebastopol and she introduced me to the book, “What the Foot?” by Gary Ward, creator of AiM (Anatomy in Motion™). Once I started to see what me feet have been doing all these years on my behalf (yes, all thirty-three bones and sixty-six joints) I became not only incredibly grateful but shamefully humble. Our feet are often a roadmap to many areas of our bodies feeling better, stronger and more functional.
The best thing about being in the bodywork field is the uniqueness of each body. There are certainly general movement patterns, structures, and injury responses but each body has its own language and I get to learn that language as I work with the person and his/her body. For me it’s similar to getting to take a German, Hindi, Spanish and Chinese class all in one day! All the while, I get to nerd out on all the muscles, tendons, nerves and their attachments and the impact on the organs and bone structures. Of course, all of these pieces inform a person’s health and well-being which makes it a very detailed, specific and personal journey for me with the person I treat. I love that!
Welcome to my Blog! This is a place where I will post musings, understandings, stories, and an occasional exercise or two all related to the body. I will focus on integration of the human experience with the body as the reference point. I’m very excited to be trying this out and seeing what comes forth over the year. Thanks for reading.