resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Building From the Bottom Up
I caught up with my dear friend Honora Wolfe, in her Colorado painting studio where, if she is not praying in Bhutan or doing charitable work in a Nepali free clinic, she spends most of her time now.
Vaccines and Chiropractic: Evidence-Based Medicine or Medical Dogma?
Right or wrong, the chiropractic profession has historically been against vaccinations. However, a growing trend within the profession is seeking to reverse this position.
Immunizations by Colorado DCs: Really?
You probably didn't hear about it, but back on Nov. 21, 2013, the Board of Directors of the Colorado Chiropractic Association (CCA) adopted "immunization authority" for Colorado DCs as its No. 2 legislative goal.
Why You Should Include the Single-Leg Stance Test in Every Patient Assessment
The single-leg stance (SLS) test, also known as the single-limb stance test, unipedal stance test or one-legged stance / balance test, is often used in the geriatric population to assess static postural and balance control.
Curbing Label Overwhelm
For the average consumer, reading a food package can be overwhelming: natural, organic, non-GMO, gluten free, free range ... you get the picture.
Fibromyalgia: Put the Pain in Its Place
While some fibromyalgia patients respond favorably to regular chiropractic care, others experience minimal relief. Unfortunately, many of these patients must rely on pharmacological management to relieve their constant pain.
New Medical Technologies You Need to Know
We're all familiar with how fast computers become obsolete, as well as the rapid pace of development in the field of cell phone technology. The latest smart phones are far more powerful than desktop computers were only a few years ago.
Physical Exam 101: The Hands
I am sure you are familiar with the old adage: "When the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail."
Remembering Clarence Gonstead and 50 Years of the Gonstead Clinic
Dr. Clarence Selmer Gonstead (1898-1978) took chiropractic practice from back-alley bone setting to an understandable biomechanical science. His life was dedicated to clinical competency.
Medical Qigong for the Heart: Part III
Part 1 and Part II of this series focused on the physical aspect of the Heart and mental emotional aspects of the Heart respectively. Now, I would like to focus on the spiritual aspect of the Heart.
Peer Points: Always Seeking To Grow
Ellen "Kiki" Geary has spent the last decade honing her craft. As a specialist in integrative holistic care, she went straight from completing her master's degree in acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine from Bastyr University to building a successful and thriving practice in the small community of Anacortes, Washington.
Are You a Bad Chiropractic Patient?
My father was a great DC. In fact, as you might expect, he was the doctor of chiropractic I measured all other doctors against. Sadly, he died at age 61 when I was in my early 30s.
A Guide for Talking to Doctors about Acupuncture and Brain Chemistry
Before I begin any discussion of how to talk about the effects of acupuncture on brain chemistry, nervous and endocrine function, it is essential to understand just what physicians most need help with.
Finders Keepers: The Secret to Relationship-Based Marketing
Becoming a successful practitioner has less to do with what you learned in school, and more to do with your ability to find new patients and keep them!
Coding for the Subluxation: ICD-9 vs. ICD-10
When I attended chiropractic school, I was taught that chiropractors approach health care differently than the traditional medical establishment.
A Chinese Medicine Story: An Interview with Mazin Al-Khafaji
Mazin Al-Khafaji's work has interested me for years. In February 2014, we invited him for the second time to speak at the Southwest Symposium in Austin, Texas.
Knee Pain From the Kinetic Chain
As practitioners of manual medicine, chiropractors often treat patients suffering from knee pain.
A History Worth Telling
The popularity and the use of acupuncture for the treatment of animals in the United States is at its peak.
The Science of Stretching
In 1986, Rob DeCastella set a course record by running the Boston Marathon in 2:07:51, just 39 seconds off the world record.
February, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 02
Freeing the Heart, Part 2: Equalizing the Pressure
By Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD
Cardiovascular disease does not happen overnight. It is a progression that evolves over decades and genetic pre-disposition can accelerate this progression dramatically. That is why we read of so many people in the obituary column dying between the ages of 45 and 65 which is the prime demographic age range of so many of our clients.What is rarely considered is how these progressions toward cardiovascular disease figure into chronic somatic profiles that clients present to us every day and can dramatically affect their quality of life.
Two core principles of the Inside-Out Paradigm assert that the body's two imperatives are to allocate resources (oxygen and nutrition) as equitably as possible to all body tissues and to distribute the strains of physical and emotional stresses across as broad an area as possible. The allocation function is carried out by the blood vessels while the body's intricate reflex arc system governs the distribution of strain thesis. It is my premise that all forms of therapeutic massage and bodywork can positively influence these dynamic relationships.
The names that are given to cardiovascular problems are many and varied. The basic categories concern the heart itself and blood vessels. These terms include: heart attack, stroke, angina pectoris, atherosclerosis, arteriosclerosis and high blood pressure; all pathological progressions are labeled as diseases. I will explore other heart progressions that relate to disruptions in its electric rhythmic activity, infections and congenital pre-dispositions in a separate article.1
In order to de-mystify some of these terms, let's review the contrasting definitions of arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis since even pronouncing them tangles my tongue. According to the Mayo Clinic, healthy arteries are flexible, strong and elastic. Over time, however, too much pressure in your arteries can make the walls thick and stiff and sometimes restricting blood flow to your organs and tissues. This process is called arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Atherosclerosis is a specific type of arteriosclerosis. Atherosclerosis refers to the buildup of fats in and on your artery walls (plaques), which can restrict blood flow. These plaques can also burst, causing a blood clot which can either affect your heart causing a heart attack or, if it reaches the brain, may provoke a stroke.1
Functionally then, the term that I propose which makes the most sense to our orientation as massage therapists is "endothelial health."2 This relates to understanding what happens along the internal walls of arteries as a result of increased pressure and the accumulation of calcium and fatty deposits along their inner vascular tubes. Constant high blood pressure hardens and stiffens the arterial walls and makes them more likely to sluff off plaques. Again, it's a progression of deterioration. Pressure is like the Goldilocks fable... too hard, then, too soft, and finally, ah, just right! Instead of seeing pressure as the enemy, let's resolve to learn how we might assist the body to equalize its internal pressure(s) "between" the body's three great cavities and "within its 60,000 miles of blood vessels."3
In 1987, Dr. Jean Pierre Barral DO, inspired my understanding that the pressure within the thoracic cage needs to be "less" than the pressure of the cranial cavity and within the abdominal-pelvic cavity in order for circulation to maintain a normal homeostatic flow of fluids back to the heart.4 With this perspective, our goal as massage therapists is to increase the pliability of the chest wall, especially around the space of the heart, and to also ease the tensions throughout the thoracic cavity. Let's add two steps to the proposed screening protocol from my last article. First, lift the client's head, memorize its weight. Next, palpate the tension of the abdominal wall.
At the end of any bodywork session, not only do we want the chest to become more distensible, we would also like the head to weigh less and the tension of the abdominal wall to ease. All three markers are reliable indicators in my clinical experience that the pressure between the cavities has equalized to some degree.
Let's review one "inside-out" technique that can jump-start the easing of thoracic pressure. Its effectiveness relies on the loosely organized areolar connective tissue along the posterior margin of the diaphragm muscle. Standing on the right side of your supine client, posteriorly contact the opposite side of the spinous processes, beginning at C7, with your upper hand and placing the palm of your lower hand just below the anterior costal arch. Softly anchor C7 with finger tips in contact with the opposite side of the vertebra then stretch the abdominal tissue inferior and medial toward the belly button. Feel for the connectedness between your hands. Your intention is to stretch the internal tissues within the chest so that at the interface of the diaphragm, the downward and medial stretch gaps the loose connective tissues allowing the thoracic pressure to flow from an area of greater concentration to one with a lower concentration. A diffusion gradient is being manually produced. This same procedure can be repeated along each vertebra from C7 - T12. Yes, do both sides.
This approach is not the whole enchilada, but it consistently primes the pump between the thorax and the abdominal-pelvic cavities. And, this technique allows for a two for one potential effect. This same long lever stretching while anchoring each vertebra creates a potential rocker effect to the vertebral/rib complex which is theorized to hydrate and contribute to mobilizing the posterior thoracic spine. Therefore, is my premise that the progression toward all forms of cardiovascular disease is a backstory lurking behind many chronic somatic problems. It is also my assertion that as massage therapists we can make a real difference in the quality of life for our clients as we aspire to comprehend how the human body really works.
Click here for more information about Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD.
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