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The Year to Make Things Happen
It is hard to believe that the Year of the Ram – 2015 is half over. Time seems to be moving especially fast. This is the year for things to happen for the acupuncture profession.
We Get Letters & Email
A House Divided? (May 1 issue) provoked significant response from readers. Here are several of the surprisingly similar comments we received.
Our Biggest Challenges to Compete in Wellness Care
In the first article in this four-article series [May 1 DC], I made the case that chiropractors should either embrace offering lifestyle wellness in their practices or face the possibility of losing their place in the wellness care marketplace.
Leg-Length Inequality and Pelvic Fixation: A New Approach to the Negative Derifield (Part 2)
As we noted in our previous article, with a positive Derifield (+D), the doctor observes the reactive (shorter) leg in the prone position that becomes longer or "crosses over" in the flexed position.
TMF 2015 Scholarships
The Trudy McAlister Foundation (TMF), a nonprofit organization established to support students who are on track to make contributions either to clinical practice and/or to the understanding of the role of Traditional Oriental Medicine, has announced the 2015 scholarship recipients.
Rethinking Musculoskeletal Pain – A Public Health Perspective
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the world's oldest and largest association of its kind, founded more than 140 years ago and boasting over 25,000 members.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients, in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2 to 4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
Use Technology to Gain New Patients and Improve Efficiency
From the smartphone in your pocket to your microwave oven, advancements in technology have made almost every aspect of our lives easier.
Professional Credentialing and Board Certification: An Ethical Faux Pas
Because of the Affordable Care Act, health care systems are coordinating care through accountable care organizations (ACOs) in order to reduce the cost of care and improve quality of care.
What Does Success Mean to You?
Recently, I was asked to speak to young, budding businesswomen about running a successful business — and at first I thought, "Me? You want me to speak to others about success?!"
Acupuncture in the U.K. Today: A Personal View
When asked to write a short piece on the current state of the U.K. acupuncture profession, my first response was to say it has all been relatively quiet.
Breath: The Movement of Oxygen and Energy
I remember with surprising clarity the first time a patient started crying during an acupuncture treatment I was giving. This is now quite a long time ago, back in 1999, when I was a student.
Reducing the Autogenic Inhibition Reflex: Making Weak Muscles Strong
The autogenic inhibition (AI) reflex is a sudden relaxation of a muscle in response to excess tension.
Spieth Thanks His Chiropractor After Historic Masters Win
Jordan Spieth didn't just capture the hearts of golf enthusiasts worldwide with his record-setting, wire-to-wire victory at the 79th Masters Tournament.
The Modern Acupuncturist
You studied ancient Chinese medicine, but I'll bet you don't practice it! Contrary to popular belief, our medicine has evolved A LOT over the years. Let's take a brief walk through history and discover the differences between ancient and modern acupuncturists.
The Nectar of Plants: Essential Oils and Chinese Medicine
Essential oils are a very hot topic these days, especially with the likes of the Ebola virus and the resurgence of measles lurking in our awareness, but when I first became interested in Chinese medicine, essential oils weren't on the radar screen for acupuncturists.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 2
A talented young woman presented herself with emotional mood swings, which included being nervous, anxious and jittery.
First Do No Harm?
There's no questioning the frightening nature of breast cancer, which strikes one in eight women in the U.S. – eclipsed only by skin cancer in terms of prevalence.
Acupuncture and the Pulse
In 1991, I attended a martial arts workshop hosted coincidentally by Sung Baek, a martial artist and the head of his lineage as a Korean trained acupuncturist. I was enamored by the details Sung could attain from the pulse, as told to me by some of his apprentices.
Giving Vets the Care They Deserve
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the largest integrated health care system in the United States.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2-4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
ACA or ICA: Which Best Represents You?
Last June, I was honored to represent Texas ICA members as their representative assemblyman at the ICA Annual Meeting in Kansas City.
How One Little Symbol (#) Gets You More Patients
Are you struggling to get more fans or followers for your acupuncture practice? Or are looking for ways to simply connect with your patients? Or do you just want to know how to keep them engaged (comments, retweeting, liking and sharing)?
Calculating Billable Units
I recently learned of an office that was audited based on the number of acupuncture sessions performed in one day. Is there a maximum number of sessions that can be performed in one day?
The Source-Luo Point Combination
The luo collaterals are part of the acupuncture channel system presented in the Su Wen and the Ling Shu (The Nei Jing). The function and clinical application of the luo mai are primarily presented in chapter 10 of the Ling Shu, however, they are also found in others chapters in the Su Wen and the Ling Shu.
June, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 06
Feel the Read: An Unconventional Approach to Bodyreading
By Raymond Bishop, PhD
When a local Pilates instructor asked if I would be interested in teaching a class in bodyreading to her instructors, I initially was very excited. As I began to contemplate how I might structure such a class, a number of difficulties occurred to me.The most obvious is that teachers in my profession have a very different language for describing and (more importantly) experiencing what we read than Pilates instructors, in part because of very different intentions as to what we wish to teach and accomplish with our clients.
I started imagining what the first steps of such a review process might look like, basing this bit of speculation on my teaching experience, my work in this area and reviewing various texts.1 I decided to start by formulating a basic model for how bodyworkers are taught assessment. The first part of such a protocol had to do with looking at a body standing in an anatomical position in the gravitational field - the most familiar way most of us first learn to evaluate deviations from established postural norms. The type of assessment in which I am interested here is simply the "reading piece," rather than the application of a rigorous set of palpatory and movement tests such as those an experienced physical therapist might perform before developing a treatment protocol or corrective action.2
Such a reading might start with placing a body in front of an actual or imaginary grid and looking at deviations from "true verticals or horizontals," and describing such asymmetries with a simple and consistent language. Conceivably, we would notice such obvious discrepancies as higher or lower with respect to the same structure on the opposite side, or focus on how each side's shape fails to fall precisely where it should on our grid. When considering patterns in the sagittal plane (along the side), we might employ a hypothetical plumb line from the ear lobe to the lateral malleolus. We would then describe those structures that fall farther in front of or behind that line than we would expect.3 Such structures are either too anterior or posterior.
We might finally consider relationships in the transverse plane, focusing on the balance and symmetry of the stacked horizontals from the arches of the foot to the sphenoid or the cranial vault. We can think of these horizontal planes as joints or, to use a term more familiar in the SI community, diaphragms. The latter is perhaps a nicer metaphor in that it allows us to consider soft-tissue planes such as the respiratory diaphragm, the arches of the foot and the floor of the pelvis (the levator ani and related structures), as well as boney articulations (such as the knee) as fluid relationships that become distorted in a number of ways.
Shifting our awareness to relationships in the transverse plane is a bit more conceptual because the actual number of soft-tissue structures that are purely or even largely horizontal is quite small. Yet, "seeing horizontals" actually proves very important for most models of "structural reading."
We now assume all three planes have been studied and the results tabulated. Once the student has completed their model of asymmetries, they would then begin to match the locations of imbalances with specific anatomical landmarks. These would be the boney attachment points for muscular structures4 most likely involved in pulling the body out of alignment. Once the anatomical landmarks are identified, the student then starts laying the muscles on them and formulates a working list of the usual suspects that contribute to any deviations we observe. They do this by organizing groupings based on similar locations and actions, but also should consider relative depth of the structures involved and perhaps extend their seeing to the layer at which this deviation occurs. At the same time, they need to consider not only synergists, but also those antagonists they certainly will find just as compromised by any local fixation.
A further step in this evaluative process involves seeing larger-scale adaptations created as a result of a local strain. For instance, a shoulder girdle torsion and elevation will create adaptations in the cervical and upper thoracic spine, as well as in the ribs. These regions must therefore be studied if we wish to do more than free up a very specific strain pattern. By logical extension, not only will we find adaptive strains in the pelvis both on the ipsilateral and contralateral sides, but we also will find lower thoracic lumbar adaptations that reinforce or counteract the patterns in the upper spine and thorax. Prioritizing and strategizing as we see these larger-scale adaptations snaking through the axillary skeleton adds an inevitable level of complexity.
If you agree with my thinking so far, you will anticipate my next shift in attention from the girdles to the limbs. How is it possible that an elevated and anteriorly displaced shoulder girdle will not shorten and twist the arms in similar or oppositional patterns? Of course they do. Therefore, as we extend our seeing through the appendicular skeleton, we begin to see a more intricate representation of how a local asymmetry sets up multi-level matrices of unique adaptations in the system we began evaluating with our seemingly simple imaginary grid not so long ago. All this makes the process of structuring a single intervention much more complex than if we choose the less interesting option of "just fixing the shoulder."
Such a sobering conclusion begs the question: If I am doomed to be overwhelmed by the complexity of such patterns, what do I do? While any effort to answer such an enormously complex question in a short essay is doomed to failure, there may be another way of attacking this entire problem, one rarely considered in those classes in which we address problems of seeing and strategizing. I will shift my focus and leave such a discussion for another time.
Before proceeding, I need to briefly speak to an important dimension of traditional bodyreading: the study of bodies in movement. Since in my view, this is such a difficult issue, any effort to demonstrate how one might structure readings in motion, even at the most basic level, would take us too far afield. Those interested in this topic might begin by delving into the books by Myers and Maupin.5
Many argue that the real key to creating meaningful and sustainable change begins in having good movement evaluation skills. The notion is that if static release is good, asking for movement while manipulating soft tissue is at least three times as good. Seeing and being able to correct movement patterns in gravity while shifting movement often proves essential for a sustained rehabilitative outcome. Such information is essential if we intend for our therapy to help re-educate and empower the client by giving them a repertoire of simple tools to "keep that tight hip free." Touch therapy without movement education has been repeatedly shown to be of less sustained value. There is no judgment in this opinion; it is simply an important underlying point.
Movement obviously is a kinesthetic experience. It's this underlying notion of the value of kinesthetic sensing that provides us with the key to our alternate approach to reading bodies. There are a few interesting pieces of the puzzle that will prove very useful for the novice "kinesthete." One piece is the value of having some sort of formal training in experiential anatomy. Without such training, how can any student begin to translate what they see to what they feel? Any bodyworker interested in developing such skills has a number of excellent trainings available.
Whatever the source, any interested student wishing to enrich their ability to "feel the read" will quickly find a movement program that fits their needs. Once such training has been successfully integrated into the practitioner's experience of body as movement and self, they will begin applying this knowledge to how they read. Some practitioners of a highly kinesthetic and intuitive orientation will feel drawn to this affective approach to reading and will be quietly working this way, even in their more traditional classes. Such folks will read more by feel than by external descriptive models, although they will lack a coherent level of specificity of language in their readings.
There is an implicit assumption that those who work mostly by feel have different ways they process their sense impressions. We can think of these approaches as falling into two broad categories: literal readings and metaphorical readings. In a literal reading, the bodyworker forms a clear anatomically based three-dimensional image of the client's strain pattern. They easily label the specific muscles that feel compromised and see some approximation of the degree to which the structure deviates from the norm. Certain qualitative issues such as excessive density, the nature and location of adhesion to related structures, and specific movement restrictions sensed locally and more distally will, to varying degrees, reveal themselves during such a reading.
On the other end of the spectrum are those sense impressions that are more "energetic," for lack of a better descriptor. In this type of sensing, the therapist perceives deviations of shape, texture and other properties, but the words employed are less exacting, being mostly more allusive or evocative. We find in such readings qualitative terms such as dense, heavy, sticky, stringy or desiccated.
If I seem to be presenting a rigid "either/or" scenario, then a correction is needed. Sense experience is highly variable and extremely difficult to describe. Also, anyone who reads by feel may receive a series of rapid impressions that contain random literal or metaphorical elements, or both. Certainly, sense impressions have great range, rather than falling into discrete quanta. Our problem in describing such impressions is a function of their volubility and ephemeral nature, and our inability to measure them. We usually are left with only the client's reporting of the accuracy of our descriptions of their pain as confirmation that our descriptions are "right."
As I read my audience now, I fear the kinesthetic intuitive approach remains shrouded in mystery, as if many of you believe only that which we can measure is real. In my view, the mystery is rather that those who work this way remain so timidly silent and cloak their abilities in the language of mainstream bodyreading or esoteric doublespeak, rather than attempting to be as clear, precise, and direct in their wording as the skilled anatomist. This concern is magnified when we learn many scientifically trained practitioners are equally adept in both "kinespheres." Much of the misunderstanding around the intuitive approach comes from a reticence to play esoteric "name that tune" games, because of the difficulty of finding a clear descriptive and, more importantly, the "excludedness" felt by those who do not process this way.
My intent in presenting such ideas is to evoke openness and inclusiveness, rather than elitism and separation. Just as sense experiences exist on a continuum, so does our understanding. We must always aspire to reach beyond ourselves in the search for greater understanding. Fear and intellectual laziness are no excuse, nor is the ego-driven need to appear more intelligent or sensitive than another. We all have our own gifts and distinctive ways of working. No one approach ever trumps another, since decisions based on preference are subjective and individual. In the case considered here, there is no inherent advantage to one approach to reading bodies over another. Our intent is rather to expand the range of possibilities by offering creative alternatives to the more commonplace mode of how we see.
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