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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.
MPA Media Wins 7 Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Dynamic Chiropractic and DC Practice Insights, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecedented seven publishing awards by the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE), the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
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!
Pain Underfoot: Metatarsalgia
Foot pain can interfere significantly with normal activities and severely limit participation in sports. Metatarsalgia is foot pain involving the metatarsal bones in the forefoot – the complaint of pain on the bottom of the ball of the foot.
Chiropractic Research in Review
Chiropractic Treatment of Lateral Epicondylitis; Cost / Benefit Analysis: Different Doses of SMT for Low Back Pain; Imaging for Occult Rib and Costal Cartilage Fractures; Treating Neck Pain: Thoracic Thrust Manipulation vs. Non-Thrust Mobilization.
Why Young People Need Chiropractic Now More Than Ever
According to a recent study published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, "It is now widely acknowledged that neck pain (NP), mid back pain (MBP), and low back pain (LBP) (spinal pain) start early in life and that the lifetime prevalence increases rapidly during adolescence to reach adult levels at the age of 18."
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.
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.
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.
Waking Up the Gluteus Maximus
In previous articles in this series, we expounded on the importance of the gluteus maximus (GM) in athletic performance and protecting the knee from injury. We also know there is a link between iliotibial band syndrome and GM weakness.
A Vibrating Capsule for Constipation? Relevance to Your Chiropractic Practice
The relationship between gastrointestinal (GI) complaints and back pain is not typically written about or discussed.
News in Brief
National Chiropractic Health Month: Be Proactive; Collegiate Roundup: Academic Appointments at Parker, Logan.
CCE Finally Takes a "Baby Step" Toward Reform
During a 16-month period from October 2010 to February 2012, I devoted four separate columns to the heavy-handed attempt by the Council on Chiropractic Education to radically change the chiropractic profession through the accreditation process.
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.
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.
Don't Turn a 2 Into a 10
The Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale1 is so useful because it can be used by almost anyone. Patients can use the numbers associated with the faces depicted on the scale or select the face that demonstrates their current level of pain from 0-10.
A History Worth Telling
The popularity and the use of acupuncture for the treatment of animals in the United States is at its peak.
April, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 04
Freeing the Heart Part IV: Reducing Resistance to the Heart's Expansion
By Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD
Studying anatomy and reflecting upon what helps my clients to feel and function better are the foundation for what I am writing in this series. With that said, let's delve into the anatomy of the esophagus a bit further to set the stage for understanding the implications of its postulated tendency to re-set its resting length in response to physical injury or intense emotional experience.
The superior esophageal fascial mooring is anchored directly to the spheno-basilar junction to my perception through the buccopharyngeal fascia/pharyngeal raphe.1 This anatomical interpretation suggests that the entire length of the gastrointestinal tract (GI) is suspended downward and forward of the cranium. Consider this notion and its implications. My speculation is that a shortened esophagus with a superior strain being pulled on from below by any manner of GI disturbance will eventually contribute to the incompetence of the hiatal sphincter. It also makes sense to me that hiatal hernias might be the natural evolution in the progression of dysfunction to such opposing tensions over many decades. The maximal strain point of the esophagus is proposed to include the portion of the tube enfolded by the heart just before it pierces the diaphragm muscle.
The association of heart troubles and GI disturbance are considered a possibility by some2 yet, most often in the literature heart troubles and esophageal dysfunctions are described as if they are completely unrelated. This defies common sense to me. The intimacy of the anatomical enfolding of the heart around the esophageal tube is a related variable; structurally, if the esophageal fibers are contracted or go into spasm and, as a chemical irritant, when chronic gastric reflux is considered.3 Since no one pays attention to such variables, this might be one way that we may contribute to our clients' quality of life, as well as to possibly slowing the advance of cardiovascular disease.
Another implication of such strain along the length of the esophagus is that its tension can literally pull the head down upon the neck and is an influence contributing to the head being pulled forward which will inevitably activate the extensor reflexes of the spine.4 Might this be related to your clients chronic neck and upper back pain? Let's remember that the superior sympathetic ganglia and the vagus nerve have their most intimate communication between the occiput and the 1st cervical vertebra, the atlas.5 Compression of this autonomic interface can have far reaching influences on sympathetic and parasympathetic coordination of physiology, including that of the heart function to my sensibilities. Enhancing the ease within the space between the occiput and the atlas is one of my most reliable markers that a therapeutic effect has been achieved during a bodywork session.
With the head being pulled forward and the extensors of the upper back reflexively tightening, guess which segments of the spinal cord provide sympathetic supply to the heart, T1, T4 or 5? Could both of these compressions add to an over stimulation of the heart neurologically, a kind of structural squeeze play that begins with a functionally shortened esophagus. How many of your clients present to you with pain and muscle spasm between their shoulder blades? Loosening the tension of the pericardial sac is another contribution to "freeing the heart." My proposed definition of stress has been that in response to the intensity, repetition or duration of what is experienced by an individual as a stressor will result in the body sacs cringing and that the tubes within organs and between organs will shorten and narrow.6 This might happen either in response to a sudden occurrence or insidiously, over a long period of time which might include multiple events.
Many technique orientations might assist the pericardial sac to loosen. Those which I most commonly employ are unwinding and recoil techniques. The basics of unwinding were learned from Dr. John Upledger, developer of CranioSacral Therapy and the recoil techniques from Dr. Jean Pierre Barral the developer of Visceral Manipulation.7,8 Dr. Barral would want me to acknowledge the he learned recoil technique from, Dr. Paul Chauffour, the developer of the Mechanical Link approach to osteopathic manual therapy.9
A rather curious phenomena has occurred five times over the past 10 years where I actually felt the heart shift its position between my anterior-posterior placed palms when using a combination of unwinding and recoils techniques in a rhythmic fashion. The reason I mention it is the exceptionally positive response of the clients for whom this happened. All reported fewer somatic ailments and increased energy in their daily lives. Whether this was a shifting of position between the esophagus and the heart or a rotation, side shift or caudal or cranial slide of the heart as a whole, is unclear. Yet, it did happen and the clients felt much better. In this series, I am recounting what may be possible, not what can be predicted.
Another technique I have found to be helpful to lessening resistance within the thorax is the fascial stretching of the pleural sacs of the lungs. This is accomplished by softly anchoring the pleural dome of the lungs and caudally stretching the tissues adjacent to the sternum and just above and below the breast area. The intention here is to assist the sliding of the pleural sacs and to assist the ease of movement between the pericardial and pleural sacs.8 Reducing the resistance within the thoracic cage is the therapeutic goal. If the heart has less resistance to its expansion, it is my conjecture that it's coronary arteries are more likely to expand as well which may reduce the speed or quantity in the build-up of plaques within these crucial arteries. A river with a steady current has less sediment accumulation. Are our arteries really that different from other natural containers of moving fluid? To reprise, my clinical experience suggests that applying our palpation efforts to the structures "inside" the thoracic cavity is the most efficient way toward easing the tensions that the heart must overcome during its expansion phase. Such efforts positively contribute to "freeing the heart."
Click here for more information about Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD.
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